Friday, January 7, 2011

Review: Across the Universe

Beth Revis
I've had this book sitting on my shelf for months, waiting for the new year to read it. This is the first YA sci-fi I've found and it takes place on, as the cover says, a "spaceship fueled by lies." Amy is a teenage Earth girl who was cryogenically frozen 250 years ago - before the ship took off for it's 300 year journey to a new planet. Elder is the teenage heir to the ship's tyrannical current leader, Eldest. Together, Amy and Elder must not only keep Amy safe aboard a ship where she's labeled as a "freak," but also figure out who keeps unplugging the cyro chambers, killing the people inside of them.

The premise here - murder and lies aboard a spaceship - is fantastic like woah. However, despite the description on the back cover of this book there are lots of little subplots inside that sometimes distract from the main story. Elder's interest in his biological parents is a subplot that doesn't really come in until the very end of the novel and other storylines, such as Harley's story and the character of Luthe, felt either out-of-place or like they should have been bigger than they were. The murder mystery aspect gets forgotten for a time, so much that when it came back into the story I'd almost forgotten about it. However, despite the many storylines the ship's mysteries are incredibly interesting and make this sometimes-slow-moving book a page-turner.

While a few of the characters seemed a little one-dimensional, for the most part they were awesome and realistic as they dealt with life on the ship. The two lead charcters, Amy and Elder, were especially awesome - Amy as she navigated her way through a world where everyone just seems a little bit off and tries to make peace with having to live with these people for the rest of her life, and Elder as he tries to protect Amy and find out what secrets Eldest is hiding from him. Probably the biggest issue I had with these characters was the fact that after a while Amy and Elder's voices (the book is told from their alternate POVs) started to sound very similar and I sometimes had to double-check whose chapter I was reading.

I can't review this book without talking about the setting. OH MY GOODNESS THE SETTING. There is a whole world on board the spaceship called Godspeed, and though it's very obviously a dystopian society it didn't remind me at all of other dystopian books I've read. Here, everything is the same. There is one race, no religion, and most everyone on the ship seems incredibly empty-headed, incapable of believing anything different from what Eldest tells them to believe. The exception here are the "crazy" people in the Ward, including Elder and Harley, who almost seem like real people. The outlooks on art, sex, and individual thought is bizarre to say the very least. 

This book was different from what I was expecting. There were more mysteries, more intrigue, and less romance than I was expecting. And though I didn't totally love it, I did like it quite a lot and now I find that I can't stop thinking about it. Across the Universe is one of those books that I want to like more than I do, that's different from what I expected, and that I'm eager for the sequel to. Yeah, all of that.

*Across the Universe comes out Jan. 11


  1. I've been really looking forward to this one for awhile ever since I saw the beautiful cover! I have a bunch of expectations for this book, so I'm glad that you mentioned how it was different from what you thought it would be like so I'm more prepared and won't be disappointed by less romance.

    I'm planning on going out and buying this one when it comes out next Tuesday. Thanks for the great review!

  2. I just read and reviewed this also. I agree that the mystery plot was pretty weak. I kind of had it figured out from the start. I also agree that the setting and premise were the strongest parts.

    Great review.

  3. Sarah
    YAY! Glad you liked my review. :)

    Laura C.
    I actually really liked the mystery plot (I had no idea the ending... you must be better at that than I am!), & I really liked the book but I do wish it hadn't been made out to be a romance instead of a mystery. & yes, setting & premise were AWESOME.