Monday, January 10, 2011

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

A story of love, murder, and madness aboard an enormous spaceship bound for the future.

Amy is a cryogenically frozen passenger aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed. She expects to wake up on a new planet, 300 years in the future. But fifty years before Godspeed's scheduled landing, Amy's cryo chamber is unplugged and she is nearly killed.

Now, Amy is caught inside an inclosed world where nothing makes sense. Godspeed's passengers have forfeited all control to Eldest, a tyrannical and frightening leader, and Elder, his rebellious and brilliant teenage heir.

Amy desperately wants to trust Elder. But can she? All she knows is that she must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets before whoever woke her tries to kill again. (from back cover)

Across the Universe totally amazed me. I heard so many good things about it, and when I received a review copy in the mail, I was overjoyed. Across the Universe lived up to my expectations and even surpassed them.

In a world of incredible technology (seriously, what will Apple release next?), science fiction seems to be almost a prediction of our future rather than a fantastical imagining of it. In Across the Universe, the United States has the techology to cryogenically freeze humans and send them on a spaceship that will be able to travel for three hundred years. Once there, the humans can be awakened and start inhabiting the planet. However, humans are also needed to man the ship during its voyage, so generations of people are being born over and over again on the ship.

What I loved about the novel, and what kind of freaked me out, was the total claustrophobia of living on Godspeed. It's a huge spaceship, but it still has its boundaries. It's modeled after the earth, but as Amy notes, the air smells different, the sky isn't quite as blue, and there are no stars. As I was sitting in my room, I could almost feel the walls close around me. I would never want to be stuck on a ship, alive or asleep. This novel really made me appreciate even more the beautiful planet we have. Across the Universe definitely stressed the importance of real, not fabricated, nature.

I love mysteries, and the fact that this ship was full of them, made the novel better in my opinion. Someone is trying to murder the frozen people, and the whole time the reader is wondering who it is and why. I kind of guessed who the perpretrator was before the ending, but there were so many twists and turns that it didn't matter. This was definitely a ship built on secrets and lies. By the end, we discover that Eldest has been hiding a lot from Elder and the rest of Godspeed's residents. Everything you thought was true is pretty much false, leaving you feeling like you were the one who had been lied to the entire time.

Across the Universe features two narrators: Amy and Elder. Amy and her parents are some of the cryogenically frozen passengers, but Amy is woken fifty years too early. She is rightly confused and a little shocked at what she discovers on Godspeed, in regards to both technology and practices. Eldest has some unusual methods to control the populace, and it is very creepy, when Amy and Elder discover them. I actually liked Elder as a narrator better; I thought he was much more interesting and a more active character in the story.

Another thing that fascinated me about Across the Universe was the way that Eldest changes Earth's history to suit his agenda. For instance, Elder comments on how Hitler was a strong leader and even reads a revised version of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, which is way different than the original. I love history and seeing how easily it can be changed creeped me out.

The only problem I had with Across the Universe was the ending. Not the content so much as the way it was written. With twenty pages left to go, suddenly everything is neatly tied up with a little bow The murderer is caught, out of the way, everyone learns the truth and everyone lives happily ever after. I was a little confused when the author started telling us everything that happened rather than showing us. I wish there was a little more detail as to how everything got accomplished because I'm sure it wasn't as easy as the narrators made it sound like.

Overall, I really enjoyed Across the Universe and thought that Beth Revis's world-building was incredible. I felt as though I was living on Godspeed, and I really think that Revis effectively captured the claustrophobia of the ship. The mystery was engaging, the characters interesting to watch, and the technology was unbelievable. Across the Universe is a gem of science fiction.

Release Date: 1/11/11 (!!)
Rating: 9 out of 10.
FTC: received copy from publisher.

2011/Razor Bill/398 pages.


Unknown said...

Thanks for a fantastic review. I can't wait till I get my hands on this.

Anonymous said...

Great review, I can't wait to read this one!

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