Friday, April 15, 2011

Book Review - Across the Universe

Across the Universe
by Beth Revis

Synopsis: (From Powells)
Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.
Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone?one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship?tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn?t do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now, Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming. 

Why I Picked this book:  I had seen it at the bookstore when perusing once and almost grabbed it, but my arms were already loaded.  Then Keary started telling me how much she loved it and how I just needed to read it... so next time I hit the store, I got it.

My Thoughts:
Across the Universe is a captivating story about space travel, secrets, and teenage love.  It was very nice reading a new take on the same old thing.  In all my perusing of current YA novels, it seems it has become fairly rare to come across a scifi book that is about space travel.  Across the Universe is about just that: a ship shooting across the universe to settle a new planet.

Amy has been put in a frozen stasis, told she will wake up when the generation ship lands in their new home.  Thing is... she has woken up early.  Someone defrosted her, and now she can't be refrozen.  Then the murders start... other sleepers are being defrosted and killed.  *enter suspense music*

The society on the ship is intriguing.  It was set up to be a generation ship... a couple hundred years where the people live and die as they keep the ship running.  A Plague hits the ship, at some point, cutting the population to almost nothing, and forcing their way of life to change.  Elder, the other main character in this book, is now in line to be the next leader of the people.  And he is questioning everything that he has been taught.

This society is intent only on living.  They work.  They eat.  They procreated every twenty years.  Oh, and by procreating... they pretty much turn into wild animals in heat, having sex whenever and wherever the mood strikes them.  There are moments where Elder and Amy are literally stepping over the bodies as they... yeah... you get the image.  I must say, I wasn't expecting that.  Not to mention the hidden drug-controlling aspects and screwed up history lessons.  Oh, and slightly power hungry leader to boot.  Hello, a dystopia on a space ship!  Very cool.

One thing I truly appreciated was the sheer lack of a love triangle.  Thank you Beth Revis... thank you.  Though there are parts of Amy's character that I didn't get along with, I was grateful that she didn't instantly fall in love with two boys and battle for pages about who was worthy of her affections.  It was a very very nice change.

I think one of my few issues I had with this book was the POV.  It's in first person, which of course isn't bad.  My issue was that there were two protagonists, and almost every other chapter was from their respective POVS.  Though the chapters were labeled for each, I still had a rough time with it.  Personally, I find it hard to really stay in a story and connect to the entire plot and emotions if you keep being forced to change the point of view over and over.  If I had a choice... I think I would have chosen Elder over Amy, for main POV.  Since I didn't though, at times I felt out of my element, so to speak. 

Still, that's almost all that I honestly have to complain about.  Yes, there were some plot issues and man the last chapter almost left me fuming (sorry, I won't post any spoilers.  Just had to say... a bit confused by the final wrap-up!)  This is a book I am very happy to keep on my bookshelves and just may read again someday.

The reason why I didn't give it a 5 Star rating then?  Like I said... the POVs, the ending... I guess they just weren't quite there for me, personally.  But the story, regardless, is worth a good read.  I seriously battled for some time on whether to give it a 5 star... that's how close it was.

(Note... I advise it for a slightly mature reader, mainly because of the humans-in-heat moments.) 

I am very much looking forward to reading more works from Beth Revis.  She created a world on a ship that I could believe, and I hope that she has more creations up her sleeve just waiting to trap us all.  This is hopefully a glimpse into the promise of YA SciFi re-awakening.  I recommend this book.

My Rating:

(4 out of 5 stars)


Elizabeth Schubert said...

That sounds like an interesting book, I may just have to read it! Truthfully, it will be my first ever dystopia book... *cowers under desk* Don't throw books at me! (Well, actually... go ahead. I need reading material!)

Noelli Spanelli said...

I have been dying to read this book!! The cover is just so captivating, and the story sounds amazing! can't wait to read it!

Jenni Merritt said...

Noelli - It was a great read! If you read it, tell me what you think :)

Lydia K said...

Great review, and honest as well. Thanks Jenni!

Jess said...

Fabulous review~ I appreciate hearing about the "issues" you had with it too (it always makes a review seem honest and forthcoming). I'm glad to hear about the lack of a love triangle too :)

Best of luck in the contests you entered!

Trisha said...

This is on my "to read" shelf, I look forward to getting around to it :)


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