“Eldest lied to you,” Marae says calmly, “because we lied to him.”
A Million Suns by Beth Revis
This book was good. Let me tell you how good it was.
So last we saw Elder and Amy, they had just discovered that Godspeed, bound for a new earth deep in space, was not moving. They had also just killed the Eldest (the leader at the time), making Elder (who was next in line) in charge. The story picks up just a few months after the last one, with everyone desperate to find answers to their questions. How can we get off this ship? Can we get it moving? How long can we last out here? What will happen to us?
Moving along with perfect pacing, the story addresses issues of government, leadership, society, and also the laws of physics. That last one especially– if the revelations at the end of the last book had you questioning the author’s intelligence, don’t worry: it was duly addressed!
As for the other problems, well, I think they are what make this book so strong. Not many dystopias actually have the characters– and you– questioning the effectiveness of different forms of government. Is keeping your people content bread and games worth the loss of individual freedoms? To what extent does democracy work? And most importantly, what makes a good leader?
For each concept, we see both Amy and Elder’s reactions to their often different opinions on the subject. And I loved the way Revis wrote their actions. Because Elder is just a kid. He’s like 16 or 17. Amy is about the same. They are young, but leadership and impossible decisions are thrust upon them. They rise to the challenge with startling realism. They make mistakes. They don’t always figure everything out in time. Everything Elder and Amy did was so perfectly real and the emotions they conveyed poked at my heart. I feel like I really know them.
I was at times angry and frustrated with them, but in a loving kind of way. I am way too emotionally invested in this story. It matters a lot to me whether or not these characters live or die.
One thing I especially like about Amy and Elder is that neither is a particular stereotype. They are kind of regular people, whose opinions are derived logically from their positions and experiences in life. I like that they don’t always agree and I really loved the dynamic between them. Some romances were meant to be– but what really stood out to me was Amy’s questioning of whether or not she liked Elder because sheliked Elderor because he was the only other teenager on the ship. It was interesting to watch her evolve.
And while we’re on the romance, I would like to point out this book’s lack of convinient make-out scenes. They were never forced in to small places together or left alone for unreasonable amounts of time. Things happened very…naturally between them.
I’d also like to address the fact that Amy was almost raped in the last book (for those of you who haven’t read it, the scene isn’t graphic, and is handled with tact; it’s not a reason to forgo the book). She is still dealing with the aftereffects of that (because who wouldn’t?) and it does play a role in her relationship with Elder. I thought this was very important makes it makes this issue out to be, well an issue. It doesn’t trivialize it down to a plot trope. Snaps for Revis.
Another fantastic element of this book was space. Space is always cool, and I loved that Revis set her dystopia out there. It makes it so much more unique, especially because they are so isolated. A lot of times in dystopias, there is the dystopian nation and like random wilderness surrounding it. It doesn’t make sense– where did the other 5 billion people go? But here, it is carefully thought out. Almost like in experiment in human nature. And the way Revis addresses space, the fact that she makes it so beautiful and haunting, makes the setting even cooler.
Revis in general is pretty good at world-building. The scope of Godspeed is thought out nicely, with little details (like the way the people on the ship speak) that make her story believable.
If I had to choose one thing that really sealed the deal on this book for me, I’d definitely say it was the fact that a seemingly typical dystopian plot was subsidized by a stronger over arching goal– they were on a mission to colonize a new planet. This mission drives a lot of the mystery and secrets and pulls the plot along nicely.
As for the ending, lemme just say that I never saw it coming. It was brilliant. It basically reinforced my belief that this book most certainly did not suffer from the middle-book doldrums.
There was one more thing that I wanted to say about this book, but I can’t remember now because at 18 years of age I am apparently losing my mind. While I’m still lucid, I’m going to give you one last piece of advice:
Read this series.
0. Couldn’t get past chapter one for fear of wanting to kill myself. Book induced suicide…
1: Yuck. Ew. Below Average. Probably didn’t even read the middle and skipped to the end.
2. Ok. Would’ve been better if I’d written the ending and everything else.
3. Not bad at all. Very enjoyable. Quite nice. Recommendable.
4. My kind of book. Near ideal, but something was a little off (annoying names, bad ending, that sort of thing).
5. WOW. Makes me wonder why people watch T.V when this is out there. Really liked it. Don’t expect to see this often.
6 and above. What I want my book to be.