Shades of Earth

A while back I heard about a story set on a spaceship, going through the universe to seek a new planet for a new home to its passengers. I read it and was delighted to discover that it was the first part in a trilogy. So after reading Across the Universe, of course I has to read A million suns and by then there was no question whether I was going to read the final instalment, Shades of Earth, or not. I did and was pleasantly surprised in more ways than one.

During the first two books we’ve met Elder and Amy and the spaceship Godspeed, soaring through the universe, toward Centauri-Earth, their new home. Amy was a frozen passenger and not meant to wake up until the spaceship landed, but was woken up early by a mistake. Elder was born on the ship, meant to be the new leader after Eldest stepped down. But when Amy woke up, everything changed. She was nothing like the people on the ship and her mere presence made people uncomfortable. Everyone but Elder. And the more they got to know each other and the more Amy got to know Godspeed, the surer they both became that there was something on the ship not quite right.

In Shades of Earth, when Amy and Elder finally have discovered that the ship actually already are at the planet, instead of still on the voyage like Eldest said, they decide to leave the ship in the escape shuttle, along with one hundred frozen people and fifteen hundred of the shipborn people. Both Amy and Elder are excited, Amy to finally get off a ship that has been nothing but unkind to her and Elder to see the real world for the first time. But when they step out on Centauri-Earth, they discover that not quite everything as they thought and had hoped. The frozen people, now awoken, takes control and makes Elder and the shipborn fear that they will be turned into either slaves or soldiers. And Centauri-Earth is a strange place. The sky is full of pterodactyl-like birds, flowers that will numb your body if you smell them and, strangest of all, ruins that fit perfectly for humans, which makes them think that they were built by something similar to what they are. And it doesn’t take long before another, stranger and even more dangerous creature then the pterodactyl-like birds makes their presence known. Some kind of alien, determined to kill Amy, Elder and their struggling colony.

All I knew when I started to read Shades of Earth was that they were going to land and see Centauri-Earth, something I was excited for and curious about. Though I didn’t doubt that Beth Revis would let me down with the last part of the Across the Universe trilogy, I have to admit, I was a little scared. I have never read a trilogy that was great through all three books. There’s always something I don’t like, a part or even a whole book. And most often, that book is the last. Because that’s when everything is supposed to explode, when all the answers comes, when all the pieces are finally put together. And when you’ve had two books to imagine exactly why the world looks like this or why the country is ruled the way it is or why they’re at war etc. etc. it’s quite easy to go a little too big. To think and fantasize and imagine things that are too huge and then, when reading the last book and getting all the answers, ending up disappointed. Or at least, that’s how it is for me. So, naturally, I was a little afraid. It turned out that I had absolutely no reason to be afraid at all.

Of course, I had some ideas of what I thought would happen when Amy and Elder finally set foot on Centauri-Earth, but I think what I was most afraid of was that it would be some kind of Pocahontas story. Something with them coming in and taking something from some kind of species that had lived on the planet for a long time. But, again, I just needed to trust Revis and in the end, there was no Pocahontas vibe to Shades of Earth at all and that was a relief.

There was, instead, a mystery. In both Across the Universe and A million suns, Amy and Elder have been trying to see through all lies weaved around Godspeed and Centauri-Earth. Now they have yet another thing they need to discover; exactly what built the ruins on the planet and what kind of creature are the aliens, really? They have to work hard and fast, because for every day that passes, people are dying. And all the clues they collect only makes them more and more confused.

It was, truly, really fun to read Shades of Earth. This is one of those novels were you just flip page after page, sucking in every word like a vacuum cleaner. Amy and Elder, their story told by alternate chapters, were really fun to follow. They were both strong characters who knew what they wanted and knew what they had to sacrifice to keep the people they love safe. They never gave up in finding the answers they needed and I loved being on this journey with them.

The whole trilogy is the first one where I liked all three books and every little piece in them. It was amazing, from beginning to end and everything in between. The end, in particular, was wonderful. After everything exploded and things started to settle and the book drew to a close, the last piece of the puzzle was found and put back where it belonged. It was sad, very sad, when I finished that last chapter, that last page, the last sentence. But sad in a good way. Because I can’t think of a better way to end a book and a trilogy than how Revis did and I’m so happy that the whole trilogy lived up to my expectations. It was amazing and I know I will come back to this story again and again and that I will love it just as much then as I do now. It is, truly, a masterpiece among the stars.

Meant to be

There is something relaxing in reading a love story. They’re usually soft, smooth, almost soothing books that doesn’t take very long to read. Something you pick up and read without really having to think too much. I’ve read a few so when I heard about a novel similar to that of my favorite writer in the love story department, I just couldn’t resist.

Meant to be
is a story set in London with straight A student Julia as our protagonist. She has followed every rule ever set in her life without blinking, she loves her books and always has a chart or a plan or a map up her sleeve (or in her messenger bag). Julia especially love Shakespeare so when her school sets up a culture trip over to London during spring break, Julia just can’t resist signing up. She’s always heard so much about the city from her parents and she can’t wait to come there and experience it all for herself. But London does not turn out exactly as Julia has planned (and she has planned well). Julia is paired up with Jason Lippincott, class clown, to work with during the ten days spent in London and already on the first night there, Jason brings Julia to a party, definitely not something in Julia’s well-planned schedule. The day after, Julia wakes up to a text from a mysterious guy she met during the party the night before, but doesn’t remember, and so a wild chase over London begins for her, with help from Jason, to find this guy. But for Julia the chase seems a little unnecessary since she already has her MTB (meant to be) waiting for her back in the States. Well, not waiting exactly since they haven’t spoken for years, but Julia is quite sure that something that is meant to be will happen. And Mark is her MTB so she knows that will happen. But running around in London, chasing a guy she doesn’t remember with Jason makes her wonder, for the first time in her life. Is there really anything like meant to be?

Like I said earlier, when I heard that Lauren Morrill’s Meant to be was similar to Stephanie Perkins stories, though set in London, it was impossible not to pick it up and see for myself if it was true. And it was, sort of. Though both authors write love stories, they’re not the same, even though I definitely saw some similarities. But for me, Meant to be missed something that Stephanie Perkins books has and, looking back, I probably shouldn’t have dived into Meant to be hoping it would be like something that would have come from another writer.

But there wasn’t really any fault with the book. It just wasn’t quite as good as Stephanie Perkins and that got me disappointed (even though I shouldn’t have been). It was a nice story, like I said in the beginning, a soft and smooth love story. It was quite fast-paced and written lightly, in the way teens talk and that fit the story perfectly. There was an interesting main character in Julia and her goofy sidekick Jason, who both got me to laugh and scowl when doing some stupid stunt. The book in itself was quite funny and I laughed loudly more than once, but there was also moments when I got a little annoyed. Sometimes at the characters and sometimes at the turn of event, which wasn’t always what I would’ve liked, however, at times it feels good to read a book that turns right when you wanted to go left.

The only thing that really bothered me was the end. Not the ending in particular, not how it ended but the way it did. It was a love story and I will spoil a little here saying yes, there is a happy ending. And all through the book, all through 287 pages, Morrill worked toward that last moment between Julia and her guy. And then it was over in two pages. It was like starring out a window for hours waiting for the circus caravan to pass by and then blink once only to realize you missed all but the back of the last truck. The end in itself was smooth and I can understand why Morrill ended it where she did, I just think there could have been something more. A conclusion of some sort. It just stopped, practically in the middle of everything. There was Julia and she had been fighting for love for ten days and you’d been with her for every second of the ride and the moment she got it, it was all over. And that was a true disappointment.

I also think that there was just a few too many question marks left hanging in the air. I usually like that, like that the author doesn’t explain everything and every fate of every person ever brought up in the book. It gives the reader something to think about when the book is finished. But here it was just a bit too many things that wasn’t explain, or, during the book, wasn’t explained thoroughly enough. That and the end bothered me enough to say that this was a good book, but far from great. At least the cover was pretty, though.

Keturah and Lord Death

I read a lot and thus come across books of every variety and a surprising amount of the books I read are not, what I call, “good enough.” They’re good, but not great. And only a few are so good that I have a hard time putting the book down. But Keturah and Lord Death was one of those few novels that I read until I couldn’t keep my eyes open and then fell asleep longing for morning when I could continue reading.

This strange story starts when sixteen year old Keturah Reeves sees the great hart not far from her cottage, the one that the men in her village has been hunting for quite some time without being able to get it. Keturah is spellbound by the beautiful creature and follows it in to the forest, deeper and deeper until the hart disappears and Keturah realizes that she is lost in the woods. After a while a man appears, a man she instantly knows is Lord Death, and he is there to claim her. But Keturah isn’t ready to die yet, she dreams of her one true love and a life with him and so she bargains with Death. As the gifted storyteller she is, Keturah tells Death a tale but says that he won’t hear the end until she’s been granted one more day, for which Death says that she can leave and come back the following day to tell the end of the story and then go with him, but if she manages to find her one true love in that lone day, he will let her go and she can still have that life she has always dreamed of. Keturah leaves the woods, return to her little village not knowing how to find her one true love in a single day but knowing that she has to do it, in order to keep living.

It is a very strange yet interesting story, were the main character, Keturah, is made out to be the most beautiful girl in the village, and also a wonderful storyteller who can spellbind any man, woman or child with her tales. The stories she tells Lord Death are intertwined with the actually story and only makes the book deeper and more intricate. The story and the world in Tide-by-Rood, where Keturah lives, are wonderful in a simple way. There are no phones or computers, it’s more the setting of a sixteenth century world and it fits great in with the wonder that is Lord Death.

As I said, Keturah is made out to be very beautiful and I really like that in the book, she takes a step away from that, often saying that she doesn’t want to be loved for what she looks like but for who she is. I think that is a very important moral point, especially for the potential younger readers of this book. Keturah in herself is very deep and interesting, she knows what she wants and she’s not afraid to go after it, whatever it is, and I love a strong main character like that. The plot in itself is very interesting, but it doesn’t come alive until Keturah speaks. Maybe a story of a girl, lost in the woods, bargaining with Death for another day to live and find her one true love can seem shallow or girlish or tedious, but this book is anything but. I think it could go very wrong if you don’t have a strong enough character to hold it all up, but this story has that; Keturah is perfect in every aspect.

The rest of the characters are interesting, Lord Death in particular, and all have their own life and hopes and dreams they pursue while Keturah searches for her one true love. It’s fun to see the village through her eyes as she’s looking for the man she’s meant to marry, seeing so much more than just a cottage here or a woman there. In villages, people know each other and that is greatly captured by the author, Martine Leavitt. Keturah has her friends, Gretta and Beatrice whom both have something they are good at and both have a man they love and hope to one day marry themselves. But they give it all up to help their friend, trying to save her from the horrible fate waiting for her in the woods if she doesn’t find her one true love.

This isn’t just a story about love and finding love, it’s a story about friendship and family and doing something good for other people. Saving someone else instead of sacrificing everything just to get what you want and what you need. But, possibly the best thing with the book wasn’t the story or the characters or that it wasn’t just about love but so much more. No, the best thing was the writing. Because it was truly amazing and breath-taking. I feel head over heels in love with this book after the first few sentences, just because of the writing. It was wonderful, poetic, almost magical. So soft, wavy like the ocean, full of beautiful sentences and meanings that made me think about my own life, not just Keturah. And I love, truly love, books like this. That have everything that makes a book fantastic. I usually have high hopes and expectations when I start reading books and I had that with Keturah and Lord Death as well. But it lived up to every one of my expectations and was, somehow, even better than I thought (and hoped) it would be. It was amazing and fantastic and wonderful and I hope you give this book a chance because it is worth it. I have read very few books like this one and I know you don’t come across them very often, but when you do, for a moment, everything seems right in the world.