Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

Title: Shades of Earth
Author: Beth Revis
Length: 369 pages
Published in: 2013
Genre: post-apocalyptic world/dystopic
ISBN: 9781595143990
Source: 
public library
Reason for Reading: 
This is the third in a trilogy by Beth Revis and it has been one of my favorite series to follow. (I’m very sad it’s all over!)
Rating: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads):

Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceshipGodspeed behind. They’re ready to start life afresh–to build a home–on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn’t the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed‘s former passengers aren’t alone on this planet. And if they’re going to stay, they’ll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who–or what–else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed–friends, family, life on Earth–will have been for nothing.

My Thoughts: This was a wonderful end to a story I love. While I was sad to see it end, I found it to be just the kind of end I liked.

There is a lot going on in this book. The population of humans from Sol-Earth have been unfrozen and the shipborn people fear them. Despite the differences between them, both groups go to Centauri-Earth. There they are forced to work together to survive some intelligent alien life forms that populate the planet. I’ll admit that I managed to work out, for the most part, what that alien life form was before it was revealed without much thought on my part. But that doesn’t change how excited I can get about how the story leads up to that moment of revelation. And there was a certain character who those who have read the story will know of–who wasn’t all they appeared to be. I hadn’t pinpointed how different this person was, but I knew there was something wrong about them. That should’ve been pretty obvious, considering I’d figured out the other mystery.

Anyways, Revis hardly “ended” the story at the close of this book. The story has barely begun and she left the story open. There are some stories with which I’d like to be told the definite end for the characters and have some nice closure. But considering how much of this story was left to the imagination, I think it was a great choice on her part to let her readers imagine for themselves how the story goes on, or ends if you choose.

I’m sad the story has “ended” but I anxiously await any new worlds Revis might create for me to travel to.

Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins {audiobook}

Title: Left Behind
Authors: Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins
Narrator: Frank Muller
Length: 3 hours
Published in: 1995
Genre: inspiration
ISBN: 978084243237
Source: 
borrowed from my public library
Reason for Reading:
Inspirational Resolution 2012
Rating: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads):

In one cataclysmic moment, millions around the globe disappear.

Vehicles, suddenly unmanned, careen out of control. People are terror stricken as loved ones vanish before their eyes.

In the middle of global chaos, airline captain Rayford Steele must search for his family, for answers, for truth. As devastating as the disappearances have been, the darkest days may lie ahead.

My Thoughts: Going into this book, I thought there would be a lot of Bible beating and preaching. What I found was nothing more than any other book I’ve read set in a post-apocalyptic world. Yes, many characters realized that the disappearance of millions around the world was God collecting his believers and the book of Revelations beginning in real life. But, with the small exception of a videotape left by a pastor to be viewed in these events, I didn’t find anything offensive or “preachy”.

I love dystopic and post-apocalyptic books. I view them as two different types of stories–but usually dystopic results from a post-apocalyptic society. (Maybe I’ll write up a post about these two types of stories so I don’t rant about it here.) The way the people just disappeared was a great idea. I’ve never read Revelations, so I don’t know if there’s anything it says about it, but I always pictured Jesus coming back to physically collect the people. Not that I really believe anything like that will happen, but that’s how I pictured it in a fictional sense. Anyways, a mass disappearance is an awesome way to create chaos in the world.

I am slightly interested in keeping on with the series because I know it will eventually reach the dystopic state. But I’m a little hesitant because I’m thinking that the further I go, the more preaching the books will become. I’m torn…

Inspirational Resolution 2012

A Million Suns by Beth Revis

Title: A Million Suns
Author: Beth Revis
Length: 386 pages
ISBN: 9781595143983
Published in: 2012
Genre: science fiction, YA fiction (dystopic, post-apocalypse life)
Rating: 5/5
Challenges/Resolutions: Copyright 2012

Summary (from book jacket):

It’s been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. Everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed.

But there may be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He’s finally free to act on his vision–no more Phydus, no more lies.

But when Elder learns shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a mystery that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier. Their success–or failure–will determine the fate of the 2,298 passengers aboard Godspeed. But with each step, the journey becomes more perilous, the ship more chaotic, and the love between them more impossible to fight.

My Thoughts: I love these books! This is the second book in a trilogy (I cannot wait for the final book to come out in January!) and it has kept me hooked on the story. In Across the Universe, Amy, a girl from our world, awakes from being cryogenically frozen for a few hundred years to find a spaceship full of people who are mindless drones. The young, soon-to-be leader of these people, Elder, discovers the people are being drugged to work passively for the furtherance of the ship, to get to Centauri-Earth, and cuts off those drugs (Phydus). But then the people start thinking.

That’s where this installment comes in. With the people of Godspeed thinking, they start to challenge their leadership. In most cases, I think I read from the people’s point of view. They’re rebelling against an oppressive government. But in this case, I’m reading from Elder’s (and Amy’s) point of view. I would like to think that I would admire a leader who let his people think for themselves if I was one of those people. But I would probably be a bit apprehensive to trust him, seeing as how past leaders took advantage of their power. I do like the fact that, in the end, Elder didn’t make everyone’s choice for them. Making a life altering decision, about a third of the ship’s population chose to do one thing and, the rest, chose another. It’ll be interesting to see how both groups fair in the last book!

For awhile there, I was beginning to think that some of the past generations already landed on Centauri-Earth and the current gens didn’t know anything about that. I wonder what aspects of inhospitable environment will arise on Centauri-Earth? Will it be something as simple as lions, tigers, and bears, but, having no experience with them, the scientists overestimate “inhospitable”? I can’t wait to find out!!! 😀

Just Being Audrey by Margaret Cardillo, Julia Denos

TitleJust Being Audrey
Author: Margaret Cardillo
Illustrator: Julia Denos
Genre: children’s non-fiction (biography)
ISBN: 9780061852831
Length: 28 pages
Published: 2011
Source: public library
Rating: 5/5
Challenges/Resolutions: none

Summary: I think the best summary is a trailer for the book that I found on YouTube.

My Thoughts: You may already know that I love Audrey Hepburn. I can’t really remember where I came across this children’s biography, I know it was somewhere on the internet, possibly Pinterest. Regardless, I’ve read lots of biographies about Audrey, but never anything addressed to an audience of children.

Truth be told, I wasn’t very thrilled about the content. It was hard to place a specific reading age to the book. It seemed too general for an older elementary age, where one might do a little research to write a paper on Audrey. But it had some words that were too complex for younger elementary age. What saved the book, in my opinion, were the illustrations. There are so many photos of Audrey floating around now because she’s become a big icon to today’s young woman–I’m proud to say that I’ve been inspired by her for 15 years, not just the past few 🙂 Anyways…I do get bored seeing the same images of Audrey over and OVER again. These illustrations were simply amazing–you can see them in the trailer. Denos didn’t just copy the same exact image, but took popular outfits of Audrey and posed them slightly different, to make brand new pictures. One weird thing about the illustrations were Audrey’s eyes. She was famous for her big, brown, doe eyes. Yet, in the book 15 of 25 pictures of Audrey were drawn with her eyes closed. But, I guess, I’d rather have lots of lovely pictures with her eyes closed than to have poorly-drawn doe eyes in every picture.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley {audiobook}

TitleBrave New World
Author: Aldous Huxley
Genre: fiction (dystopic)
ISBN: 9780792752257
Length: 8.5 hours
Published: 1932
Source: public library
Rating: 5/5
Challenges/Resolutions: Years of Books Resolution (2012); Years of Books Goal (lifetime)

Summary (from Goodreads):

“Community, Identity, Stability” is the motto of Aldous Huxley’s utopian World State. Here everyone consumes daily grams of soma, to fight depression, babies are born in laboratories, and the most popular form of entertainment is a “Feelie,” a movie that stimulates the senses of sight, hearing, and touch. Though there is no violence and everyone is provided for, Bernard Marx feels something is missing and senses his relationship with a young women has the potential to be much more than the confines of their existence allow. Huxley foreshadowed many of the practices and gadgets we take for granted today–let’s hope the sterility and absence of individuality he predicted aren’t yet to come.

My Thoughts: I think it is fair to say that this is one of my new favorite books. Yes, I tend to LOVE dystopic novels. But I hadn’t realized that people were writing such stories 80 years ago! But, this just goes to show you that dystopic stories are fairly timeless. As it’s always a look at a future world, writers can create any type of society they want and no one can say it won’t happen. So this book, written in the 1930s, reads practically like any other dystopic I’ve read.

There was only one part of the story that I thought dated it a little. And that element was actually a pretty major difference from most other dystopics I’ve read. There exists in this story a population of people from before the transition to “utopia”. Those people are called savages, because they haven’t been civilized or, especially, conditioned. I don’t know that I’ve ever read a book like this where everyone wasn’t forced into the new order. It isn’t like some characters that have always lived in the “utopia” who just want to revert back to a better time and freer state of things–the savages weren’t ever changed. This dates the book because the savages are described as Native Americans. If this book was written today, the “savage” would be very different. (Another slightly dating element is the way time is related. It takes place in 632 AF, After Ford. That would be Henry Ford. I have a feeling if this book hadn’t been written so soon after Ford’s huge success in the auto industry, that it wouldn’t be the way to refer to the year.)

 

Everfree by Nick Sagan

TitleEverfree
Author: Nick Sagan
Genre: science fiction, dystopic (worldwide plague, post-apocalyptic world)
ISBN: 9780399152764
Length: 240 pages
Published: 2006
Source: public library
Rating: 5/5
Resolutions/Challenges: none

Reason for Reading: It is the final installment in a trilogy that I started years ago. I recently listened to the second book, Edenborn (review here) and couldn’t wait to finish the story.

Summary (from book jacket):

A small group of humans has survived the apocalyptic epidemic called Black Ep, a disease that ravaged the world and left them alone on Earth. The survivors gradually awaken others, who had been put into a state of frozen sleep to await a future when the disease might be cured. At first, everyone agrees on the basics: We’re lucky to be alive. We’re all in this together. Let’s look out for each other and build a better world.

But inevitably, as more sleepers are roused, there are those who disagree. People who remember power are waking up to a new world, and they do not intend to wait their turn politely. And from very far off indeed, one more surprise awaits the survivors–a shock that will transform the future for everyone in this post-plague, perhaps even post-human, world.

My Thoughts: I can safely say that this trilogy is one of my favorites. Each of the books are very different–caused, no doubt, by the changes in the characters and their world. At the same time, they are all excellently tied together.

This book does have an epilogue. While I usually don’t like them, I actually preferred it over the ending before the epilogue. Without the epilogue there’s a very “happily ever after” ending, all warm and fuzzy. And that would have been okay, if the rest of the trilogy wasn’t so serious and slightly doubtful. I found it a little funny that I didn’t want them to be completely happy 😕

SPOILER

At one point in this book, I honestly had the thought “Mind = Blown!” About halfway through the book, after the PHs (posthumans: Halloween, Fantasia, Pandora, Isaac, Vashti, and Champagne) started thawing the Gedaechtnis scientists (those who genetically engineered the posthumans), they find out there were other “children” (posthumans) created in a Hong Kong program! I couldn’t believe it when I heard that there were more Humans 2.0 out there!! I loved this crazy twist.

But my enthusiasm for such an unexpected surprise soon dwindled. I thought these Chinese posthumans would play a pivotal role in the rest of the book. I actually was thinking that the differences between the Gedaechtnis PHs and the Chinese PHs would cause something akin to war. The Chinese PHs were brought up in IVR knowing the task they would have when they returned to the real world (unlike the Gedaechtnis PHs). Also, they were scheduled to leave IVR at the age of 15, three years before the Gedaechtnis PHs, in order to sort of turn the Gedaechtnis PHs into sort of slaves. But, alas! This war/feud never materialized. In fact, the Chinese PHs had little to no importance throughout the rest of the story.

END SPOILER

I can sort of see a possible spin-off book or series from Sagan in the future. In this book, Halloween has dreams in which a microorganism calling itself Bill Angler and identifying itself as an alien from far away presents itself to Hal. He calls himself one of the Free, who will be coming to earth to sort of take over the humans that survived Black Ep. He says the Free sent Black Ep to weed out the weak. If the civilization could recover, then it meant something special. Anyways, I can sort of see this sort of thing turn into another story. And I think I would be greatly interested. Sounds a little like it could be The Host by Stephenie Meyer!

Memorable Quotes/Passages:

Retreating to fantasy he [Zhang Zhao] could process the deaths and the abandonment only within the confines of an old Hollywood movie, one of many stored in their media base. Wracked by survivor guilt, it was more comforting for Zhao to believe that nefarious machines hated humans, working to destroy them or enslave them to their will. I suppose this explains his perplexing behavior, treating me like an old friend, calling me “Morpheus”, repeatedly asking, “How deep does the rabbit hole go?” (p140)

Anyone who has seen the Matrix movies will understand the reference to the movie. And I found this even more interesting because of thoughts I had when I first read Idlewild, the first book in this trilogy. The PHs were raised in IVR until they were 18, when they returned to the real world. Sounds an awful lot like being in the Matrix and then being unplugged into a pretty desolate reality. I had this thought when I started reading Idlewild, as I’d already seen the first two Matrix movies by then. And then Sagan goes and actually references them 🙂 A later passage in the book names Malachi (the AI in charge of IVR) as the Ghost in the Machine, yet another Matrix reference!

What you don’t see with your eyes, don’t invent with your tongue. (p200)

Apparently this is a Yiddish saying, according to the main character. Wherever it came from, it’s very wise.

Politics is the act of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies. (p3)

Again, main character says this is Groucho Marx. True or otherwise in its origin, I love that statement!

Edenborn by Nick Sagan (audiobook)

TitleEdenborn
Author: Nick Sagan
Narrated By: Holter Graham, Clayton Barclay Jones, Jenna Lamia, Beth McDonald, Maggi-Meg Reed, Johnny Stange and Oliver Wyman
Genre: sci-fi/fantasy (apocalyptic, dystopic)
ISBN: 978165592845
Length: 9.5 hours
Published: 2004
Source: public library
Rating: 5/5
Resolutions/Challenges: none

Reason for Reading: This explanation is longer than usual, so if you don’t really care why I read it, I’d go ahead and skip to my thoughts.

Okay, sometime back in high school–this would be at least 6 years ago–I picked up a book called Idlewild by Nick Sagan. At the time I didn’t know it was the first of a trilogy. The name of the book caught my eye, because there is an Idlewild, Michigan, a town that I believe isn’t too big, which I drive past on my way to my family’s cottage every year. So I picked it up. I didn’t realize that it was named Idlewild because part of the story took place in backwoods Michigan. Even more interesting, I read this book while on vacation at my cottage–it happens to be a mere 25 miles away from Idlewild, MI. I asked my dad if he, my uncle, or my grandparents ever went to Idlewild while at the cottage and he said my grandparents used to go there to dance in the 1950s-60s.

Long story short, I loved Idlewild and have been meaning to finish the trilogy lately. When I saw Edenborn on the audiobook shelf at my local library branch and needed an audiobook for my commute to work, I just took it on impulse. And I’m so glad I did. That’s why I read it 🙂

Summary (from Goodreads):

“Edenborn begins with a stark vision – a microbial apocalypse called Black Ep has wiped humanity from the globe. Yet all is not lost. Six individuals have survived the epidemic and are now committed to the task of rebuilding a peaceful civilization. But not everyone shares the same vision, and soon two very different societies begin to form.” As we follow the children from each “family,” someone – or something – begins to threaten their innocence. And as the mystery mounts, a new biological threat moves against them. Now the architects who gave breath to this new world must scramble to protect their children from a two-front assault. It’s a race against extinction.

It’s essentially a dystopic novel. Black Ep is a plague from which only a handful of genetically altered humans (actually Human 2.0, as they’re not homo sapiens technically) managed to escape. They’re struggling to repopulate the human race. So it’s not “sci-fi” like outer space/aliens and it’s not “fantasy” like vampires/werewolves/etc.–it’s just a bleak look at a future of the world as envisioned by Nick Sagan.

My Thoughts: I was hesitant to read Edenborn without rereading Idlewild first, since it’d been so long since I read it first. But it turned out that I didn’t really forget much that was important. I remembered that a handful of teenagers were raised in what was called the IVR, a virtual reality computer program akin to The Matrix. And when they found out their lives were a sham and what the real world was like, some of them went berserk. Which I can totally understand. And I remembered Black Ep, which is pretty important to the story. But I had forgotten which survivors were friends with who and the fact that one of them killed off almost half of the total number, but that wasn’t very imperative to this installment.

I really liked this story. It is some time later from the end of Idlewild in that the original survivors now have grown “children” (what they call “water babies” as humans can no longer procreate naturally due to the crazy meds they take to help their immune systems). And there are two sets of “children” and their “parents”–one living in Munich, Germany, the other in Luxor, Egypt (or it might be Thebes). They have very different ideologies and lifestyles. But then another “child” pops out of no where (almost) and creates some havoc. And…well, it’s hard to gush over the book without giving it all away, so I won’t say much more than this: If you like/love Idlewild, give Edenborn a chance 🙂

Audiobook Format Thoughts: There was a cast of voices and, in this instance, I loved it. Each chapter had one of seven characters narrating it. So there were seven narrators for the book. But the narrator was the same throughout the whole chapter, reading narration and dialogue both. So, if Halloween and Pandora were having a conversation in Halloween’s chapter, only Halloween narrated the dialogue. I especially loved Penny’s voice, as read by Jenna Lamia. She had such a great “teenage” voice–attitudinal and whiny and very dramatic/expressive.

Memorable Quotations:

Idlewild sits right in the heart of the Manistee National Forest. The town’s protected by 500,000 acres of unspoiled wilderness.
-Pandora (Disc 6, Track 4)

I like this quote just because Idlewild is so close to my favorite place on earth, a small inland lake within the Manistee National Forest.

Manistee National Forest

even though it's edited, the trees are beautiful and the forest is so dense up there