Monday, February 14, 2011

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Title: Across the Universe
Author: Beth Revis
Series: Across the Universe #1
Published: Jan. 11, 2011
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 398 (hardcover)
Purchased at Borders

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. –Goodreads


I’m not ashamed to admit that I was hesitant to read this book even after I bought it. Over the last few months I’ve read countless reviews praising it…and countless reviews dishing it. The mixed messages left me unsure of what to expect. This, now that I think about it, was probably for the best. If I had approached this book thinking it was going to be my favorite read of the year I would have been left crying in disappointment. That’s not to say that Across the Universe was terrible, but it had its issues.

First, a bit about what I actually liked: what engaged me most about this book was the world Revis created. The thought of living on a ship filled with incest, lies, mind-dulling drugs and murderous dictators chilled me to the core, and there were quite a few scenes where I had to pause and remind myself that I wasn’t reading a psychological thriller. I genuinely felt bad for Amy and the life she had to look forward to after she was unfrozen, especially since she was such a stubborn and outspoken character. It was easy to feel her pain—like a bird trapped in a cage with nowhere to go. This injustice kept me engaged and eager to turn the page.

However, that was basically the extent of my care for the characters. Amy bothered me because she never grew. The Amy at the beginning of the book is the same as the Amy at the end of the book, despite everything that she goes through. Elder, on the other hand, progressed nicely as a character, but was always second guessing himself and was constantly missing opportunities to stick up for Amy. His actions (or lack of, really) made finding romantic chemistry between the two difficult...which was strange because many sources claimed that this book would be the romance of the year. In addition, Elder’s half of the narrative was super verbose, which caused parts of the book to lag. Time spent whining about the difference between fake and real stars could have been time spent solving the Mystery of the Defrosted Ice People, since it took them nearly 350 pages to get anywhere close to discovering the truth. And on that note--

The mystery of “whodunit?” was super easy to guess. Like, it was so easy I was second guessing myself because it was too easy. It makes me wonder why the characters took so long to reach the same conclusions I did, especially since they had all of this cool space tracking technology to use at their disposal. You cannot tell me that a ship has scanners and records for everyone on board and then tell me you have no idea who it is. That doesn't fly with me, even if the door locks are trashed and the wires are ripped out. Get creative! I'm sure that there's something you can do besides posting a guard every few hours to watch the frozen people. If you're that confused, then go into the ship's historical records and watch CSI, for Speed's sake! Gil Grissom could teach you a thing or two about catching a killer.

Ah, I could go on and on, but I think I'm going to stop for now. You guys get the idea. Anyway, I can see this book being a nice gateway read for readers who are not used to the genre, but for those who are sci-fi geeks and desire the other elements of a good book, I’d recommend waiting a while to read this. Like I said, I didn’t think Across the Universe was a bad book per say, but it certainly wasn’t gush-worthy. The setting was great, the history was great, and science behind the fantasy was great, but the characters lacked depth and chemistry. Important factors to consider, especially if you're dealing with a subject as wide as the universe.