Thursday, January 13, 2011

Review: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Across the Universe
Author: Beth Revis
Publisher: Razorbill
Series: ??
Pages: 398
Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: January 11, 2011
How Received: Publisher

SummaryA love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

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.

My Thoughts:
The science part of the book was absolutely fascinating and riveting. I’ve watched a ton of movies and read tons of books dealing with space travel, so I decided that I had to read this book.

Across the Universe is a slow book. By slow, I mean pacing-wise. The first 250 pages or so are pretty much leading up to the conclusion (which is about 50 pages or so). There was no intensity or action from start to finish. It was just slow, which isn’t a totally bad thing – the pacing left a lot of room open for development and for the reader to get to know Godspeed.

As far as predictability goes, I had guessed everything from the moment we were presented with the facts. From the murderer to the big reveal, I already knew what was going to happen. I’m actually pretty pleased with myself that I guessed correctly. But at the same time, while I had guessed what was going to happen, Beth would sort of lean the story a different way and I kept second-guessing myself. So even though I knew what happened, I was still a bit unsure and that’s why I wasn’t so disappointed by the easy predictability.

The narrative switches from Amy’s point-of-view to Elder’s point-of-view. I have never been so upset with this point-of-view style until this book. All the scenes that would have involved feelings or more insight to a situation were in the other person’s perspective.

Amy was not really a pleasure to read about. Her character seemed stagnant throughout the entire book – she doesn’t grow, she doesn’t change, she’s just Amy. She came off as really dependent and whiny. I realize that it’s a scary thing to wake up completely alone after however many centuries, but it’s something that already happened and that she can’t change. Instead of having attitude and being petulant, she could have worked to at least assimilate into her new situation. Elder was a bit more fascinating to read about than Amy because he’s learning that he basically lived an entire lie. He at least strives to better himself, for the good of his ship and his people. He realizes how tyrannical Eldest and decides that’s not how he wants to rule. And while Elder remained somewhat stagnant as well, his perspective was more interesting.

For being a proclaimed love story, I came into this book expecting a sweet romance or at least development of feelings. However, I didn’t feel any chemistry between Elder and Amy. Besides the fact that Elder was obsessing over Amy’s difference, I just didn’t see it. There was more romance involving Amy and the boyfriend she left behind on Earth, Jason. In the middle of the book, there was one scene where the two kiss. But I couldn’t see why Amy would kiss Elder – she hadn’t had any prior feelings for him.

I’m not entirely sure if this is a standalone or a series – I’ve heard differing sources say one thing or the other – but if it were a standalone, then I’d have to say the ending disappointed me. I had expected the ending to feel more conclusive, but I was just left feeling empty.

Cover MusingsIt’s really, really pretty. I absolutely adore astronomy, so I was more interested in the stars than on the models.

Memorable Quotes:
My eyes slid to the exit, past all the cyro equipment on the other side of the room. Beyond that door were my aunt and uncle, who I loved, who I could be happy living with. And beyond them was Jason. And Rebecca and Heather and Robyn and all my friends. And the mountains, the flowers, the sky. Beyond that door was Earth. And life.
But my eyes drifted to the little doors on the wall. Beyond those doors were my momma and daddy. (pg. 8)
“The builders of the ship knew this; that’s why they named her Godspeed.”
I mouth the name with him, tasting it like metal on my tongue.
“It’s an old Sol-Earth expression for good luck.” Eldest snorts. “They shot our ancestors into the sky, wished them all good luck, and forgot about us. They can’t help us. We lost com with Sol-Earth during the Plague, and have never been able to regain communication. We can’t go back. All the people on Sol-Earth could give us was Godspeed.” (pg. 29)
I have been frozen in ice for centuries. And yet, I never have felt more alone than I do right now, at this moment when I realize that I am alive and aware and awake, and they [her parents] are not. (pg. 90)
She starts crying. Not soft, sad tears, but the angry sort, like she hates the whole world, at at least the ship that’s now her world. So, I do what any reasonable person would do when faced with a crying girl.
I get the frex out of there. (pg. 91)
I don’t realize I’m crying until the tears splash on the coffin. “Daddy, I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t get up, Daddy. They were too strong. If it wasn’t for Harley—” My voice cracks. “Daddy, you said you’d protect me! You said you’d always be there for me! I need you now, Daddy, I need you!”
I pound my fists against the cold hard glass surrounding the ice. My hands crack and bleed, smearing crimson across the glass. (pg. 234)
And even though there are so many stars and they look so close together, I know they are light years apart. The glitter in the sky looks as if I could scoop it all up in my hands and let the stars swirl and touch one another, but they are so distant, so very far apart, that they cannot feel the warmth of each other, even though they are made of burning.
This is the secret of the stars, I tell myself. In the end, we are alone. No matter how close you seem, no one else can touch you. (pg. 390)
Overall Thoughts/Final Comments: Across the Universe was a good, decent read. It satisfied my love for the science fiction genre. If this were a series, I could easily see myself becoming to like it more than I did. As it is, though, it was a bit too predictable and had stagnant characters with a flat romance. It’s saving point is the intrigue it inspired in me. I love science and I love astronomy, and I found myself wanting to unlock more and more of Godspeeds secrets. I would definitely recommend this book, especially to young adult lovers, but it wasn’t OMGamazing.

Rating: 4/5

*This review was submitted in the 2011 Debut Author Challenge!
**This book was provided for review by the publisher, Razorbill, in exchange of an honest review.