Sunday, 23 February 2014

Across the Universe by Beth Revis **Review**

Across the Universe
Series: Across the Universe #1
Pages: 416
Publisher: Penguin Books (UK)
Release date: 2nd October 2010
Buy: Book Depository | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones

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Goodreads synopsis:
A 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.

First of all, can I say that I can't believe how long it's taken me to get around to reading this book. It was bought for me as a Christmas present, around the time it was first released in the UK. That was 2010, and I was just in my first year of university. That's crazy! Especially when you consider how excited I was to read it.
Recently, I was trying to convince a friend of mine to start reading the Avry of Kazan trilogy by Maria V. Snyder, and in exchange for her making that her next read, I would read this. That was the best deal I've made in a long time!!

The first thing that struck me about this book (in particular, my edition) is the beautiful front cover. I know the US editions are different, but I think this cover is stunning, and having read the book now, I think it does quite a good job of representing what's between the covers, which not all YA books do all that well. The one thing I think I'd change is the way Amy and Elder look on the cover. How different they are physically is a big deal in the book, and I don't think that's as clear as it could be on the cover. They are essentially from completely different worlds, and I'd quite like to see that on the cover too.
Not that the cover is the most important thing here.

The actual story was really enjoyable. It was gripping, well-paced, believable (despite being set A) in space, B) in the future, and C) contained a lot of science that just isn't possible in real life, back on Earth), and unique - I've never come across a science fiction book quite like it before. I did find that some parts of the plot were predictable - I'd guessed most of the plot twists and big revelations before they happened - but certain things were still a huge surprise. And even being able to predict bits of the plot, I found this didn't impede my enjoyment of the novel in any way. I was firmly in its grip from start to finish, and I can't wait to find out what's going to happen next.

And the characters were fabulous! Despite the ship priding itself on the uniformity of the people who populated it, there was a huge range of diverse and interesting characters.
Obviously there's Elder, who is struggling to understand his place on the ship, despite knowing that he is to be the future leader - the future Eldest - and trying to think independently in a world where he is not supposed to. It was interesting to watch Elder on his personal journey throughout the book, as he realised that everything Eldest said and did wasn't necessarily right, and began to question everything he'd taken for granted his entire life. And Amy was the one to awaken this realisation.
I really admired Amy. She was in a nightmare situation; she'd not wanted to be frozen in the first place, didn't want to leave her friends, her life and everything she'd ever known behind, but she also didn't want to lose her parents. Unplugged and awoken early, Amy finds herself completely alone in an alien world, struggling to come to terms with what has happened, and why she was unplugged. And the nightmare only gets worse as more of the people who were frozen alongside her are being unplugged and left to die. I admired the strength it took for her to remain sane, and the bravery and intelligence it took for her to work out who was trying to kill the rest of the 'frozens' and why.
Amy and Elder's relationship is a strange one. I'm not sure how I would have reacted, had I been in Amy's position. To begin with, I was really routing for them - I like Elder, and I wanted them to show the rest of the ship that being different from one another is not a bad thing - but then, as the novel progressed, I'm not sure how I'd have reacted to certain discoveries. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have reacted in the same way as Amy, but I'm interested to see how things develop between them in the second book.

Of course, there have to be a few bad guys along the way, and Eldest - the leader of the ship, Godspeed - was the perfect antagonist. He was a ruthless leader, apparently with the good of the ship as a whole at the heart of everything he did and every decision he made, but these decisions and actions were often questionable, and I hated him almost immediately. Fortunately, Elder didn't agree with most of what he did and said, and watching the struggle between them was often frustrating - I wanted Elder to win, but Eldest held far more power, whereas Eldest was still attempting to understand his place and even his own opinions.

Another great character was Harley, Elder's artistic best friend. Like Elder, he takes 'inhibitor pills', meant for those who are mentally unstable. The odd thing, though, is that when compared to the rest of the ship, they are the ones who appear the most 'sane' to us.
I would've like to have found out a little bit more about Harley and his past. We are told about his past, but I think I'd have liked a bit more than we got, and maybe for him to have played a slightly larger role.

Although I didn't think the plot was perfect, with bits being a little predictable, all-in-all I really enjoyed Across the Universe. It was a unique and compelling read with a host of interesting and unique-against-the-odds characters.
If you're a fan of YA science fiction or fantasy, then I wholeheartedly recommend you give this book a go. I had really high expectations of it before I started reading, and half expected to be disappointed because of this, but for me, fortunately it lived up to the hype! A great start to the trilogy.


Ebony Ellis said...

What a great review Dani! I got this book for Christmas last year, so I'm really looking forward to finally getting around to reading it!

kitblu said...

Unfortunately the copy in the city library is missing. I will check the county library first but may have to request an inter-library loan. They have the next 2, though. Thanks for alerting me to this series.

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