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There has been a lot of hype about this book and I admit, what with it being a YA sci-fic, it was a story I was expecting to blow me away. However, while it wasn't the astronomical read I thought it would be, it was none the less a book I enjoyed.
The story begins with seventeen year old Amy. After watching her parents be frozen in preparation for their centuries long journey to find and establish life on a new planet, Amy makes the monumental decision to accompany them - Knowing that when she once again reopens her eyes, she will be reunited with them on a new world. At least, that was what was suppose to happen.
But when she is awoken fifty years too early, she finds herself alone. A stranger and outcast on a starship where the people all look the same, the sane are considered crazy and the sun "rises" with the press of a button. But Amy's early awakening was no coincidence. Someone on board is set against murdering the still frozen members of the expedition, including Amy's parents.
Along with 16 year old Elder, the ships future leader in training, Amy sets herself the task of protecting the frozens. But catching the culprit before he can murder again is another matter entirely. However as Amy is soon to learn, the ship, Godspeed, holds many secrets, each one more unpleasant than the next. Everything she's ever known, the life she once lived, has been lost forever. And although she has yet to realise it, she still has so much more left to lose...
This book has a great concept that is both fresh and extremely intriguing. Beth Revis creates a believable world and an eerie atmosphere on a ship that runs much like a dystopian society. With corrupt leadership and people unable to think freely, these elements combined together to make an intricate plot of lies and deception that made the book a fascinating read.
The characters of Amy and Elder were also very well written and both were easy to relate to. While I didn't feel much of a spark between them romantically, I felt like a good foundation was built for one to grow on. Also I'm interested to see how their relationship will develop, especially given the rather dramatic ending, and Elders obvious interest.
So overall Across the universe was a unique and interesting read that I would recommend to anybody wanting something a little different. Futuristic, spacey and with plenty of thrills thrown in, I would rate this a 3 1/2 star read!
Just so you know, before we begin. I loved it.
Space. cryogenicly frozen. Two words that would usually NOT inspire me to pick this book up.
What a mistake that would have been!
This book is addictive, engrossing and I enjoyed it all. I liked it so much that I emailed the author to tell her straight after reading it (to which she sweetly replied to)....I've never felt the need to do that before!
A very quick plot jist:
The 'Godspeed' is a small country sized space ship made to transport generations to a new planet 300 years away. A number of important individuals were cryogenicly frozen so that they could continue their life when they got to the new planet. But there is someone on board who does not want them around....
17 year old Amy (who was frozen along with her mother and father) becomes mysteriously un-frozen 50 years before she should be. Flung into a completely different world, one that has only ever known the confines of the ship, she has to adapt, and quickly. She doesn't like, understand or fit in to the odd society that exists on board the ship. She knows that there is a murderer on board. She is alone, that is, until a mysteriously intriguing boy wants to help her....
Think 'readable' easy to take in sci-fi, a compelling murder mystery and a romantic undercurrent. All in a nice balanced fun read.
Not only is it an exciting story, it also brings up very interesting political and social topics to think about...
I don't know much about science fiction, and probably have never read any of it in my life, so I was really unsure about what exactly to expect even though I knew I *had* to read this. There's been a huge buzz about this book in the blogosphere, a hype that seems to be going around like a bug.
Amy is just one of the hundreds of people who have been cryogenically frozen and are being held on board the Godspeed, a ship that is set to land on a new planet 300 years into the future. But something really unexpected happens, and Amy finds herself awake. Waaaaaaaaay ahead of schedule. Living on the ship, Amy discovers that it's very different from life back on Earth, and then she realises that it can't have been a malfuction with the cryo chambers, but that somebody is intentionally unplugging them, leaving the innocent people inside to melt, and eventually die. It's murder, and Amy is determined to find out who exactly is behind this before another person is killed. But can she do it knowing that the murderer is walking around the ship, and could be planning another kill? And these people..this..'Elder' who was born and raised on the ship, on his way to becoming leader..can she trust him? And solve the mystery at the same time?
Across the Universe opened with one of the best first pages EVER. There is a pretty creepy description of Amy and her parents..waiting to be frozen. It's totally haunting. And the whole 'freezing' process was incredibly scary, I could never have even imagined what Amy and all the other people being frozen had to be going through! It was described so realistically as well! Scared the hell outta me!
Revis did a fantastic job of describing the ship to us. The detail didn't confuse me at all and I could just picture myself standing inside the Godspeed, in Amy's place. I did expect a little more romance between Amy and Elder, but I think it just about works without all of that which shows what an outstanding book Across the Universe really is.
I liked that the story was narrated by both Amy and Elder, in alternate chapters. It was great to see the ship and the events in the novel through both perspectives because Amy and Elder both have minds that work very differently and they contrasted really well, making the story flow smoothly and adding more depth.
Amy and Elder were both realistic - flawed and relatable. I was drawn the Amy from the start. She had to make a really difficult decision for somebody of her age, and any normal teenager would have chosen to opposite route of what she chose. I admired her determination to solve the mystery, because she could have easily recoiled from it, but she didn't and that alone made her so likeable. Elder was sweet, he came across as pretty innocent and naive about the history of Godspeed for somebody who was going to be the future leader! His idolization of Amy was fascinating; he's pretty lonely, apart from Harley there's nobody else he can really talk to, so it was easy to understand his interest in Amy. And despite their differences, at heart, they were pretty similar. By the way.. the (shocking) discovery we make near the end blew my mind! I was not expecting it at all! (I won't say anymore!)
Oh and Harley's character was a great addition to the novel! He made things seem light-hearted, and maybe even fun, I was sad for what happened with him..but I was also happy for him. He got to do what he had always wanted and seeing him sound so happy made me want to smile.
I have to say the only downside of the novel was that most of it was incredibly slow-paced and it made me want to put the book down at times, because it felt like nothing was really happening, even though what I was reading sounded so interesting (does that ever make sense?!). I think most of it was setting the scene, building up the world, and by the end I wasn't really bothered about the slowness because it made things more intense, and the set-up for the rest of the book was amazing.
By the end, we uncover all the secrets and the lies on the ship and find out what was really going on. There was *such* a great mystery aspect that I really appreciated. An extremely well-written, suspenseful debut, it's gripping and thrilling, a totally dystopian-sci-fi masterpiece.
Space. Not something I've ever really felt that drawn to in a book if I'm honest, but for some reason Across The Universe by Beth Revis really appealed to me. When an early copy came up on UK book tours I signed up immediately and wow, I wasn't disappointed!
Across the Universe tells the story of Seventeen year old Amy. Having made the agonising decision to join her parents as frozen cargo on spaceship, Godspeed, bound for a new planet 300 years away, she's woken fifty years early. Unplugged by an unknown and left to die, it's luck that brings Elder, Godspeeds leader in training, to her rescue.
But now Amy finds herself in the midst of a society born on board, who live by their own rules. The only person she can trust is Elder and together they begin to untangle the web of lies and deceit the ships been harboring for many years. And when more of the frozen's are unplugged and left to die, it becomes a race against time to find who is responsible or Amy's parents could be next.
I've read some people say they found the book slow to start. Well I have to disagree. I was hooked right from the very start. We begin with Amy making the agonising decision of whether to be cryogenically frozen along with her parents and set off for a new life, on a new planet, 300 years away. Immediately the weight of such a decision plus the horrifying reality of actually being frozen gripped me. It's far from pleasant and Beth Revis conveyed Amy's fear and anxiety perfectly, it was so intense!
The book then switches to Elder's point of view and continues in alternating chapters throughout. Duel Narrative is one of my favourites when it works well, and in Across The Universe it does. Very. Through switching voices we get an all round picture of life on the ship and the pace is kept speedy and fresh. It's with Elder, who was born aboard Godspeed several generation after take off that we learn about the dynamics of the ship and the society that has built within it. Then we see a contrast through Amy, who has been awoken centuries into the voyage and struggles with the cultures and behaviours of a society who have only known life in space. One ritual that has developed is the mating season, and like Amy I found this horrifying. I should warn that in this section no holes are bared, it's primal and graphic and includes an attempted rape. For this reason I wouldn't recommend Across the Universe to younger readers under 14 years old.
At the heart of the story is a murder mystery. This starts out quite tense but ended up being perhaps the weakest element in the book. I worked out pretty early on what was going on. However it was the themes of racial discrimination, dictatorship and leadership, which really made this story for me. It wasn't something I was expecting to find in this book and was scarily very similar to issues here on earth. While I did guess who was responsible, the journey there was still extremely worthwhile and there were some real 'OMG' moments throughout.
The ending sets the scene firmly for a sequel and as I finished the last page I was desperate for more. I became fully immersed in the world Beth Revis created and adored her writing style, it was hard to believe this was her debut novel. I liked and related to both Amy and Elder very much and loved hearing from both sides. There's definitely a blossoming romance between the two, which while it doesn't fully take off in this book, a subtle chemistry adds to the story beautifully. Across The Universe ended up being so much more than I expected and one of the best books I read last year. If you think you don't like sci-fi I'd urge you to still give it a chance. It's so much more than a book about space, being part murder mystery, part romance and part dystopia too...you won't be disappointed. I raced through Across the Universe's 416 pages with lightening speed, couldn't put it down and can't wait for the next instalment expected some time in 2012!
~ Other Information ~
Across The Universe by Beth Revis
Published March 2011 by penguin Razorbill
Across the Universe is the debut novel from Beth Revis. It was published by Penguin on 3rd March and the book is 416 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing an ARC for review.
On the spaceship 'Godspeed' seventeen year old Amy has been cryogenically frozen, along with her parents. The trip is supposed to take 300 years with the destination being a new planet but things don't quite work out that way. 250 years into the journey, Amy is accidentally woken up from her frozen state and she finds herself forced to live on a strange ship with even stranger people and rules.
What was originally thought to be an accident turns out that someone on the ship tried to kill her, along with others who were frozen. Her parents are still safely frozen but for how long? Will they end up like some of the other frozen passengers who didn't survive being woken up or will Amy be able to figure out what is really going on? In order to do that, she needs the help of Elder, who is training to be the new leader of the ship. He seems like he is just as much in the dark as she is but together, they could do so much more than figure out a mystery!
What I thought
Across the Universe is told in dual narrative form by main characters, Amy and Elder. I really enjoyed being able to see the story from two different perspectives as the characters had completely different lives.
Elder is different from the other people on the ship. Even though he is training to be leader, he has many questions about the way in which things are run. In order to become a good leader, Elder knows that he must learn everything he can about the running of the ship but also why things are done in certain ways and Eldest doesn't like this. The fact that Elder was so inquisitive was one of the reasons that made me like him so much. He could see that there was more going on than what he was being told and was determined to find out what those things were.
I felt so sorry for Amy, more than I have done for a character in a book for a long time. After being cryogenically frozen and then woken up by accident, Amy finds herself all alone on the ship. Not only is she all alone, but she is in a completely different world compared to being on Earth before being frozen. I cant imagine how hard that must have been for her, especially feeling like there is no one she can talk to or trust. Amy is also a red head like me so I had to like her for that! Considering everything that she had been through, I thought she dealt with it all extremely well. There is no way I would have been as strong and brave as she was.
While Across the Universe is beautifully written, it was so slow to start for me. So slow as in 17 chapters. As I had heard so many amazing things about this book, I was determined to carry on, no matter how insane I was going with it. I'm not really sure why I disliked it so much to begin with though, maybe I just wasn't feeling it that day or maybe it was the whole being set in space thing. Thankfully, after chapter 17, things got a whole lot better. The plot really began to show promise at this point and I realised just how much mystery there was and what a strange world Beth Revis had created. The world building is intricate and well detailed but it is also explained extremely well so you can really get a feel of what it is like being on that ship.
Across the Universe has one hell of an ending and that really redeemed this book after the slow start for me. The whole book has a lot of built up tension and it all comes down to one massive cliff-hanger. I was literally gasping at some of the things that were being revealed and couldn't quite believe what I was reading. Because of this, I will definitely be wanting to read the next book in the series. I am so glad that I carried on with this book and gave it a real chance. I would have missed out on something fantastic otherwise.