Shades of Earth (Across the Universe, #3)Shades of Earth by Beth Revis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I should preface this review by saying that I’m not a fan of the romance genre. I roll my eyes at the scandalous embraces and rippling torsos on the covers. I laugh at the ridiculous titles. No, seriously. Out loud. I think they’re hilarious. Half this series focused on a romance. …And I liked it. I feel like this has been some kind of guilty pleasure that I’ve had to justify to myself with the sciencey bits. And without the sciencey bits, I probably would have hated it. I certainly wouldn’t have read the whole trilogy. But the sciencey bits were good. And the romancey bits were good. And mashed together it was a good series.

Shades of Earth, the third book in the Across the Universe trilogy, takes up precisely where it left off. Amy and Elder are sitting in the cockpit, about to embark on their one way mission to Centauri-Earth. And everything immediately starts going wrong. Which I appreciated very much.

I find myself comparing Shades to Allegiant, the third book in Veronica Roth’s Divergent series. Except everywhere that Roth went wrong, Revis went right. Both books switch perspectives every chapter back and forth between the in-love couple. But where in Allegiant, I kept having to check back to remember who’s perspective I was reading, I had no trouble telling an Amy chapter from an Elder chapter. All of the logic was sound, the characters stayed true to themselves, and the plot twists and foreshadowing were on point. Completely unlike Allegiant, where the “twists” felt like they were made up on the spot and the character’s choices became completely illogical. The books even have events that can be paralleled near the endings. But instead of the moment feeling unjustifiable, and the end of the book feeling empty, Shades makes total sense and has you feeling all the feels at the end. When I put down Allegiant, I felt hollow, listless, dissatisfied and utterly disappointed. At the end of Shades, I let out satiated sigh and found myself smiling. …And the sciencey bits of Shades are rooted in science. Allegiant, not as much.

Like I said, I’m not big on the romance genre. And I have an extremely low tolerance for saccharine sap. (Slow clap scenes make me angry, and scenes with singing make me slightly homicidal.) But there was so much more going on than Amy and Elder’s relationship. …And there were deaths. One of them gruesome and bloody and horrifying. Which is always a big plus in my opinion. Amy and Elder could never be alone for five minutes without someone getting maimed or dying tragically or violently. …Oh! That’s why I liked this series! 😛

Considering that, as I’ve already mentioned, this book is half romance, Beth Revis retains her crown and title as queen of creating sexual tension. It wasn’t quite as intense as the second installment of the series, A Million Suns, where the characters literally don’t touch for half the book, but it was definitely there. Usually the reason for the characters not getting together was their lives being in danger as they snuck around to not make out and gather clues instead. I always appreciate a book where the characters can set aside their hormones when they’re in mortal peril. (Hunger Games, I’m lookin’ at you!)

I’ve read a few other reviews that say the ending is good except the cheesy last chapter, but since it involved my favorite character, I was completely fine with it. Quite happy with it actually.

So, start to finish, this book- and this entire trilogy- was full of suspense and really good. I’m eager to see what Revis comes up with next.

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Emperor of Thorns (The Broken Empire, #3)Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The third and final book in the Broken Empire series has the perfect end. A bitter-sweet ending actually. Which is the way I like books to end. I also needed a day to reflect and recover, which is also something I like in a book.

Oh, and before we go any further, it should be said that this series has been the most unapologetically violent series I’ve come across. Or at least it’s the most violence done for character development and story line, not cheap shock factor. Shocking it may have been in many cases, but never unfounded.

So, first and foremost, I love that Jorg, the main character, stays rock steady throughout the series. He doesn’t suddenly start doing good things just to be a redeemable character by the end. In fact, any time he does do something good, he rejects it and makes up a dishonorable motive. Jorg does his damnedest, in fact, to keep his status intact as an anti-hero. Heavy on the anti. Yet as contemptible as Jorg ensured himself to be, I ended up adoring him quite against my better judgement. But I guess that puts me in league with every other character in the book. Every time one of his allies stand with him, I wondered what they saw in him that would make them fight so hard. I figured out it’s the little moments, the times between him nuking kingdoms and slaughtering princes, that make him likable.

As for the story itself, though it jumped back and forth in time as it did in the second book, this time it didn’t confuse me. I have to commend Mark Lawrence on keeping it straight, though. There were times during the “Five Years Earlier” parts when I’d go “Oh yeah, that hasn’t happened yet,” since the “current” story line of the second book takes place after the “past” story line in this one. Like I said, commendable, since I barely made my way through that sentence.

I also loved the way magic was real and science was viewed as mystical. I had to giggle every time they would make mention of electricity or the like, since it was spoken of as “Builder magic,” a mysterious thing that was beyond reason. Though I do have to wonder why the Builders froze that poor “Custodian.” My guess is he was the lab rat. The first to get thrown into stasis.

One of the major mysteries in Emperor is the identity of the Dead King, which I figured out a little before half-way through the book, but I think I was supposed to. I mean, I think the clue I figured it out with was pretty glaring, but I’ll have to wait till my friends finish the series before I can compare notes.

I’m a little sad that there will be no more adventures with Jorg in the Broken Empire, though Lawrence gives sound reasoning for it in his note at the end. At least I’ll be able to get more stories set in the same universe with his upcoming book Prince of Fools. And if I’m lucky, I’ll get an ARC to read!

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