Wednesday, 1 February 2012
A Million Suns by Beth Revis
The sequel to Across the Universe, this is a dystopian novel set in space. Once again, it follows Amy and Elder in their separate lives aboard Godspeed, and delves into their growing infatuation for one another as it continues to grow in a realistic, albeit quick manner.
As a general overview of what I thought, I would say this book is much better than the first (though this review is harder to write without spoilers or abandoning good English). I didn't know what to expect from book two because, in many ways, the ending of book one was very final and suggested a very linear series with the same kind of goal each time. But Beth completely blew me away by turning the book on its head- turning it into a mystery novel, without losing its strong YA elements. I really mean that, since I could never predicted that this or that would happen. About half way through, I felt some of the foreshadowing was a bit too obvious and that the protagonists were being a bit unobservant, but it quickly passed and the book became enjoyable and wonderful once more.
The romance is better here than book one, but I was startled by the fact that Amy seemed to completely forget Jason though, in book one, I remember him being mentioned often. Amy and Elder do seem to have chemistry, and you can tell that it was one of those "I want to love him, but can I or should I?" romances which can get tiresome as our protagonist goes home and spends a few pages agonising over little details and their numerous loyalties. Not so here, I felt. Instead it's more of a thought that passes through Amy's head (Amy's the reluctant one and Elder the hopeful, but never pushy other) when they flirt with something more romantic. One thing I that I really liked was how Beth portrayed how they were flitting about the subject of their relationship, without having to mention it every time. It was lingering there and I loved that it didn't need to be perpetually repeated.
The plot of the story isn't actually all that different to book one: an unknown someone is causing trouble and they have to find out who. That sounds worse than it is, since the ship is full of discord and their are other issues to contend with i.e. Amy's peculiar appearance (to the ship's residents) and Elder's duties as a leader. I can't say too much about that without giving away spoilers for book one or two, but I assure they are interesting and perfectly apt for the tone and setting of the book. The conclusion of the mystery side of the story was really well done because I kept doubting myself and I was of the opinion that it could have feasibly been any of three people. The other side of the story concerned Godspeed's mission- that is, it's mission to find a new planet to inhabit. This starts with a bang in the book, so to speak. The point reached in book one is rendered unimportant in comparison to what we learn in the first few chapters of the book, but once again it is faultlessly blended with the story and doesn't seem like a straight-forward plot device.
Things I didn't like about the book are almost so minor that they aren't worth mentioning, but they are the reason A Million Suns gets a 4 and not a 5. There are frequently scenes were Amy goes to see her frozen parents, and though I could accept her reasons and couldn't defend a complaint, they annoyed me. I kind of felt that she was going there so that some point about her adjusting to life on board Godspeed could be made, and not that it achieved a great deal. Another thing was that Victria seemed bent on hating Amy, despite all the selfless, supportive things she did. I couldn't understand why would she hate Amy that much, even if she did blame her for... well, something bad in Victria's eyes.
A Millions Suns succeeds in being something I could never do. It is a riveting story wrapped in messages of loyalty, trust and change. Elder and Amy seem to realise that after everything is done, the only person they know they can trust is one another- and even when it seems a shaky idea, it's rooted firmly and will not change. The use of Orion is also amazing; constantly leading us to the grey area of whether we can trust him or not. This is a YA book that I can actually feel safe in calling mature for not dodging around issues. In some ways, you could say there is too much being confronted in the book: ostracization and sexual exploitation being the two worst and most prominent. But I would fire back that our society has this and more: just because a protagonist is younger doesn't mean they won't face these issues.
Seriously, just don't miss this book. It's (to use a word I notice Beth using on her blog frequently) awesome.