Shades of Earth is the thrilling final chapter in the Across the Universe trilogy, which begins with the Godspeed crew landing on the planet Centauri-Earth, only to find that they are not alone. Elder's leadership is in its infancy, and he struggles to find his place in the pecking order amongst the newly un-cryogenically frozen military leaders and scientists who were transported to Centauri-Earth on his ship. There are life and death struggles as the colony fights against unseen forces (and presumed aliens) who appear to want them all dead. There is a mercy killing that is lauded as brave after a man is mauled beyond hope of survival by a creature. As in previous books, teens will enjoy themes about ethics--this time regarding a planet whose natural resources are highly sought after back on Earth, and the extent to which a mega-corporation on Earth will go to to procure those resources, including genetic modification and cloning. There are undertones of racism between the Earth-born scientists whose group contains people from several different ethnicities and the Godspeed ship-borns, who have developed into a mono-ethnic people. Amy and Elder have a strong and supportive relationship, and have one vaguely referenced sexual encounter. Elder matures as a leader and makes the ultimate sacrifice to save his people. Occasional language is relatively mild (sh-t, b-tch, h-ll, a-s)--the majority of expletives are made-up curse words (frex, shite). All told, this final book is action-packed and a very satisfying conclusion to Amy's
and Elder's journeys, both physical and emotional.