A few weeks back, I mentioned how happy it made me that the second book in Beth Revis’ Across the Universe trilogy was just as good—if not better, actually—than the first. Now, after reading the last book in the trilogy, Shades of Earth, I can unreservedly state three things:
2. Even though it didn’t quite reach the heights of A Million Suns, Shades of Earth is a totally worthy finale to a space opera that is smart and thoughtful, fabulously entertaining and completely engrossing.
3. I am truly excited to see what Revis comes up with next.
After all of the life-changing events of the first two books, Amy, Elder, and the others have arrived on Centauri-Earth. It’s time to wake the frozen passengers on Godspeed...which means that Amy will finally be reunited with her parents. But the reunion doesn’t go as she’d imagined, and her relationship with her parents feels immediately off-kilter and uncomfortably different—after all, she’s grown up a whole lot over the last few months, and suddenly being expected to Sit in the Corner and Be Quiet While the Adults Talk doesn’t jive with her newfound self-reliance and independence. Additionally, as the only person in the colony who has experience with both groups—with both cultures—Amy is feeling seriously confused about where her loyalty—and her trust—belongs. Eldest, meanwhile, is trying to retain and live up to his leadership role, but is having a difficult go of it: the newly unfrozen colonists don’t take him seriously, and neither group particularly trusts the other. Banding together to survive the dangers of the new planet—which, it turns out, is home to a race of unfriendly, sentient beings—is going to be an uphill battle, at the very least.
As before, Revis keeps her story from getting repetitive or stale by switching things up—a new set of characters, a new set of conflicts, plenty of new dangers, a new setting—but it still works as a part of the larger whole. Not only do Elder and Amy continue on their own personal journeys of maturation and identity, but the overarching storyline continues to explore different facets of freedom, agency and obedience.
Some readers will be put off by the love triangle that gets introduced, but this is a rare case in which I feel it was a necessity: with all of the threads surrounding choice throughout the series, it seems only right that Amy would be given the opportunity to choose (or not) Elder, rather than being with him by default. As she said in A Million Suns, “Love without choice isn't love at all.” It feels a bit rushed towards the end, and the Villainous Doings in this one are more black-and-white than the shades-of-gray of the previous books, but it’s a strong ending to a strong series, and one that will stay with me for quite some time.