Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Million Suns - Beth Revis

Way back in 2011, I read a book called Across the Universe.  Because I had not started the blog then, I have no formal review for it.  Just a few quick sentences I jotted down when compiling the list of books I read that year.  It surprised me.  I had not really expected to enjoy it, but I did.  It seemed at the time, and still does, a likely candidate to be put on film.  From some mild Google searching, it appears that a movie has not yet been announced.  Still, with the success of The Hunger Games and an upcoming Divergent movie, I think Hollywood is about to jump on the dystopian bandwagon young adult authors have been riding for years now.   

Across the Universe would fit the bill.  Teenage girl, Amy, wakes from cryo-sleep long before she should on Godspeed, a ship sent from Sol-Earth (the one which revolves around our sun) to reach and populate Centauri-Earth (a planet revolving around two suns many light years away from our solar system of origin).  Suddenly alone in the strange culture which has developed aboard the ship, Amy befriends the young future-leader, Elder.  

Fast forward to book two: A Million Suns.  I will admit, I had forgotten about Universe in the two years since reading it.  At the time, the sequels had yet to be released and, without having the organization of the blog then, they dropped off my radar.  Fast forward two years.  A week or so ago, I stumbled upon (literally...I was on StumbleUpon) a list of books on which Revis' work featured. Turns out, the second book of the trilogy came out last year and the final book was released in January.

Suns proved a quick, easy read.  Revis created a wonderful science fiction world aboard Godspeed when writing these books.  The details of the world capture your attention, as they do in any good science fiction story.  The book contains a few big twists, although they are not difficult to guess in advance.  The plot in general does not stand out or impress outside of its setting.  It is not bad, but not exceptional either.

The characters are the weakest point.  They are each so fundamentally focused on one end goal that their actions and motivations lack some necessary dimension.  Amy seems to have no other aim than getting off the ship.  While this is understandable, I appreciate more depth in a heroine.  Her actions and desires betray her selfish and prideful belief that her plan is the best one for everyone aboard the ship.  She has no empathy for the personal history and struggles of the population of the ship.  Elder, on the other hand, balances out Amy's insensitivity toward the people.  His focus is to lead them well and he does so, albeit not to their satisfaction.  I found him to be the most balanced character as he tries to balance the needs of his citizens and the needs of Amy.  The people themselves have such little dimension as a large group.  The secondary characters in Revis' books have never captivated me.  I do not find them engaging or interesting.  The only secondary character I had any vested interest in throughout Suns died.

Revis writes a decent book.  Great setting, good plot, but I would love to see some stronger, more complex characters.  For young adult sci-fi, though, she ranks fairly highly in my book.  The cover art of both Universe and Suns stuns.  If ever you intend to break the old adage and judge these books by their covers, you would expect true greatness.  I hope Revis has poster versions of these covers hanging in her office somewhere because they really are lovely.

What young adult books are you reading lately?  There are so many out there in this dystopian/sci-fi genre right now.  Revis offers a good middle ground between the excellence of Suzanne Collins' work and weak efforts being churned out by inexperienced writers.  How would you rank the young adult books you have read?

Pages: 386
Date Completed: May 4, 2013

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