Thursday, February 14, 2013

Joint Review Discussion: Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

I really enjoy doing these joint review discussions of dystopian reads, and this month I'm doing a cople with Christina of Reader of Fictions. These are more in-depth than my usual reviews and discuss plot points in a (mostly) non-spoilery way. Today we are discussing SHADES OF EARTH,  the third book in the ACROSS THE UNIVERSE series.

Publisher's summary:

Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceshipGodspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience. 
But this new Earth isn't the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed's former passengers aren't alone on this planet. And if they're going to stay, they'll have to fight. 
Amy and Elder must race to discover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been for nothing. 

Christina and I decided to discuss four topics: Plot, Elder, Other Characters, and The Ending. The first two we discuss below, the second two we discuss over at Reader of Fictions.


While book 1&2 were all about the ship of lies, book 3 is all about the planet of lies. Once Amy and the shipborns crash land on the planet and the frozens are awoken, it’s clear that some people have more information than others - and they’re not sharing. Revis is stellar at delivering an exciting, fast- paced plot with twists galore. We get so many jaw-dropping reveals in this last installment, but they all work with the info we’ve been given so far - which is so hard to do.

And since this is Dystopian Feb, I do have to give Revis props for creating a truly horrifying dystopian scenario on the planet.

Oh geez, I hate the “ship of lies” tagline. It may be true, but it sounds so melodramatic! Beth Revis does like to drop the twists and splosions on her unsuspecting readers, and I agree that those are what make the Across the Universe series so un-put-downable. I also loved that there was one last puzzle to figure out, carried over from A MILLION SUNS, which had a sort of treasure hunt plot.

The dystopian culture on the planet is fabulously dark and creepy. I love the way that when they first landed, the first reveals had me really skeptical. I mean, much as I was hoping for some dinosaurs, I was highly unsure about whether they made sense. In the end, though, Revis gets all of it explained, unfolding it slowly and mesmerizingly before your eyes.

Yes! The dinosaurs! However, I was curious about the distinct lack of other wildlife whatsoever. I could have used a dinosaur chomping on a squirrel scene (just kidding!).

The last puzzle clue was very cool. And also the way Orion’s statement “soldiers or slaves” came into play.

There is one major question I still have - it relates to the plague elder and the mono-ethnicity of the last generation shipborns, but I won’t go into it here since it’s spoilery. I’ll just have to ask Revis sometime.


Hahahaha! Yes! There should have been more creatures. There were some bugs and birds, maybe, but I don’t remember any mentions of anything else, do you? Though maybe this planet really just didn’t have any life forms before. However, that would seem to suggest that it wouldn’t be a great place to establish a colony.

The whole puzzle things was great, and I was really glad to see that make a comeback. Orion does not present information in the most logical way, but it’s more fun this way. Thanks, crazy!

I am very curious about this thing you can’t say! The mono-ethnicity is interesting in general, because it’s garnered a lot of … concern in the blogosphere.

I’ll tell you on gchat! Let’s see if you can explain it to me.


If anything has hampered my enjoyment of the series, it’s the character of Elder. It’s not that I object to Elder per se (I actually like his sort of inept yet good-hearted leadership), I just don’t love him in a romance with Amy. The romance was never a big deal in the first two books - with Amy rightfully wary of Elder and attributing her feelings for him to him being the only boy her age.

It was awesome of Revis to bring two major complications into the Elder/Amy relationship in this book: 1) Amy’s father - who naturally doesn’t approve of Elder and 2) Chris - the hot new guy with whom Amy has some great chemistry. But as much as loved Amy’s father ribbing Elder, I don’t think he was enough of an obstacle. And Chris - what do I say about Chris other than #teamchris all the way!

Ooh, yes, I very much appreciate the character of Elder for his leadership style. After so many heroes that can do anything, I like that he’s good-intentioned but not actually a particularly good leader. He tries, but that doesn’t mean he’s successful. In SHADES OF EARTH, Revis highlights this by introducing Elder’s foil in the character of Amy’s father. Compared to Amy’s dad, it’s so obvious what a drawback Elder’s youth is and how much he lacks a naturally commanding personality, despite his years of training to serve as Elder.

So far as the romance goes, I’m with you wholeheartedly. What I loved so much was Amy’s hesitance to date Elder because she was sort of shoehorned into being interested in him through the lack of other options. I was a bit disappointed to see reason become less of a factor for in romance so quickly, perhaps because of the added dangers of the new world, making her want to be in love while she can, or the introduction of her parents, making her revert to a less mature, thoughtful place. I would really like to have seen Amy’s father be more of an actual obstacle; I laughed with malicious glee every time he told Elder off. I’ll join you on Team Chris! They do have much more chemistry than she and Elder do!

I didn’t entirely believe that Amy would commit herself so thoroughly to Elder here. She didn’t seem to be doing it to defy her father (but then, I didn’t entirely understand Amy’s relationship with her father, so I could be wrong). Maybe as a way to show she was on the shipborns’ side, despite them not accepting her for so long? Or maybe she really did fall in love with him finally once she realized she cared for him more than his scant competition (c’mon Amy, give Chris a chance - or what’s wrong with all the old dudes? Ageist much? LOL).

Yuck! Amy, do not hook up with the old dudes. Please. Maybe it was sort of a pity move, though she might not have realized it. Her dad was really killing Elder’s self-confidence and insulting his leadership. After two books with him, she knows how hard he tries and how much he cares. What better way to show dad that he’s wrong about Elder than by dating him? Other than that, I really don’t see it. She doesn’t really ever seem to like Elder all that much. Wasn’t she laughing and joking with Chris shortly after meeting him? (I could be wrong about that, if my memory’s playing tricks.) I don’t remember her and Elder having too many light-hearted moments.

Yes - she and Chris were having a ton of fun together. I think he was making her remember her old life on Earth and how it could have been. So perhaps sealing the deal with Elder was her way of accepting that she was never going to get her old life back.

In my opinion, you always take the guy who makes you laugh. Plus, he’s hotter. And more capable. #TeamChris

Aww yeah!

Don't miss the rest of the discussion over at Reader of Fictions!


SHADES OF EARTH is out in hardcover. Visit the author's website for more information.

See index of all dystopian reviews at Presenting Lenore

FTC disclosure: Bought


Liviania said...

I'll avoid reading about the ending, since I haven't read this one yet.

Zibilee said...

I still haven't started this series, despite the fact that I picked the first and second books out of my pile and put them on the top. When I heard the author speak at SIBA a few years ago, I was enthralled with the premise, and I can't imagine that I am not going to love it when I finally get around to reading it, and the others! Nice discussion post!

Miss Scarlet said...

I actually liked the Amy/Elder relationship, but after reading the thoughts you two had on it, I am rethinking it! I am a sucker for a love story, though, so I probably created something more to theirs in my mind.

Kelly said...

I said this on Christina's post, but it needs saying again! I am so surprised that there's a #TeamChris thing happening!

I'm about halfway through and he's just so suspicious - why was he back at the ship alone? Trying to open the seal to grab a megaphone? Pff. Likely!

Christina said...

Yes! We are making people question Amy and Elder. VICTORY!

Knighton said...

I didn't like Chris at all, especially after he didn't try to stop Amy from going . . . (spoilers prevent me from saying). I liked the ending. I thought the world she created was pretty frightening on many levels.

Emily said...

I loved this book! That zombie-chicken-merit badge cracks me up!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you gals on the way Elder was handled—I love that he tried so hard to be a good, just leader, but he just couldn't seem to make it happen.

And Team Chris?! For shame! (Yeah, ok, they had better chemistry...but...but...just no). :-)