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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"Across the Universe" by Beth Revis (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

Visit the Official Website of Across the Universe Here

OVERVIEW: Seventeen-year-old Amy’s family has been chosen to be a part of a highly secretive, exclusive space mission that is expected to find life on a planet very similar to Earth. Upon accepting the mission, Amy’s mother, father and herself must be cryogenically frozen and placed aboard a spaceship, where they will be opened up 300 years later and left to establish a new world upon this new “Earth”.

While the ship is traveling slowly across the galaxy, Amy is abruptly awoken from her frozen slumber. Only to find the entire ship, and the world for that matter, completely different than what she left and it isn’t 300 years since she’s been unfrozen—it’s only been 250. Someone unfroze Amy’s chamber 50 years before the scheduled release date, and if she doesn’t work to discover the who’s, what’s and why’s the rest of the people frozen aboard the ship could be next.

Amy quickly discovers that life aboard Godspeed is nothing like it was when she was frozen. The over 2,000 inhabitants have surrendered the control of the ship to a ruler known as “Elder”. Elder rules and controls everyone aboard the ship, and ensures that things are running smoothly—and that means everyone does what their told or assigned to do, and no one questions or does anything.

Amy works to adapt to life aboard Godspeed, while working to unlock the hidden secrets of the ship before all the people in the frozen chambers are murdered. Enlisting the help of Elder, the future leader of the ship, works alongside Amy, to help her discover who the potential murderer and what Eldest is really hiding from both Elder and those who live on the ship.

FORMAT:Across the Universe is a YA sci-fi novel that contains hints of mystery, adventure, and romance. The romance element is extremely light in this novel. Across the Universe switches between chapters that are told from the POV of Amy and Elder, the future leader. Across the Universe stands at 398 pages.

ANALYSIS: A year ago, if anyone had told me I would be reading a sci-fi book and actually enjoy it, I would have probably laughed. But I have a weakness for extremely pretty book covers, and after reading the overview of Across the Universe I thought I’d give it a try. I wasn’t disappointed, and in fact, I was somewhat surprised.

Young adult novels tend to be quickly written off by the literary world as extremely shallow, love stories that are designed to pump money out of teens. Across the Universe and author Beth Revis really show the literary world that the distinction of “YA” novel doesn’t have to mean shallow plot lines, paper-thin characters, and intense supernatural love.

The first thing that should be addressed is the romance element. Take a look at the cover. It looks like a romance novel. Two faces so close they could actually kiss. Let me tell you, the cover is completely misleading. There is virtually no romance in the novel, that doesn’t mean future books in the series won’t have it, it means that Across the Universe isn’t the place to find it. If you are looking for extreme romance, lovely dovey kisses, you won’t find it here.

The real highlight of the novel for me was the character of Amy. She was incredibly strong, opinionated, and independent. She could have easily been portrayed as a weak character who needed help from anyone and anything, but she really stuck her ground, and that was an extremely attractive element of the novel.

One would think that a novel that takes place on an enclosed ship would become extremely boring after a time. Beth Revis really knows how to propel the plot forward without dragging scenes or parts on. This novel was a page turner for myself, and I found it flying by in no time at all.

Now, despite all the praise, that’s not to say Across the Universe is flaw-free, because it isn’t. The biggest flaw I found was the story was predictable, to a point. There were certain things that I could see coming from a mile away. There were also things I didn’t see coming, but the predictable element is there and enough that some readers might be turned off.

Another “flaw” of the book (and probably the biggest problem of the novel for myself), and one that could potentially make readers extremely uncomfortable, was the whole Season part. The Season is the ships term for mating season. The docile members of Godspeed during “The Season” strip off their clothes, grab the nearest member of the opposite sex, and start having sex anywhere they please. I found this a little uncomfortable. Maybe that was the point of the Season was to make people think, and feel uncomfortable, but I felt the random sex would popup in scenes where it wasn’t really necessary.

For example, you’d have two people talking, and randomly it’d be like “Said character turned to look at the couple having sex”. It had an undertone to it like I was watching a porn from a distance in a way. If that was the point, good job, if not I’m not sure why it was there.

Across the Universe is one of those books that each reader is going to get a different experience out of it. If you go in looking for flaws, you’ll find them. If you go in looking for a new experience, you’ll get it. It’s really what you make of it, and what you want to get out of it. There is certainly plenty to discuss and think about in this novel, but if you really want to find flaws in the story/plot you can.

Overall, as an “intro” to sci-fi this novel was a good pick. There’s nothing overly complex about the ship’s system, the characters were fairly fleshed out, and the plot was fast moving. Is it a book for everyone? No. But it was right for me, and I really think if it even sounds remotely good to you, you should give it a chance. I certainly look forward to the second novel to see how both the novel and the author grow.


Nayan said...

Nice to read your review after such a long time.

Cindy said...

Awww thank you Nayan. I'm glad to be back :).


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