Saturday, January 15, 2011

Review: Across The Universe

Author: Beth Revis
Publisher: Penguin
Release Date: 11 January 2011

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

Creepy and disturbing. Words I didn't expect to associate with Across The Universe before reading. Now? I can't think of a better way to describe the life that has become the norm for the inhabitants of Godspeed.

Something else I didn't expect before starting this book was the complex world Beth has created within the confines of one spaceship. I was not expecting it to be so huge, to have such an intricate society built - but then, they are set to be travelling for 301 years, so I should have expected something more grand than the spaceships we've seen in movies.

We are told this story from both Elder and Amy's perspectives - Elder, having grown up on the spaceship is next in line to lead the new generation on board the ship. Amy - cryogenically frozen on the ship centuries ago after her parents signed up to travel to the new planet and help make it habitable. Someone reanimated her early and now other frozen bodies are being murdered - who and why is doing it?

While the murderer may be the main mystery, it certainly isn't the only one and there are plenty more shocks and revelations along the way to  keep us on our toes.

I wasn't expecting such moral and ethical issues to be lingering under the surface of Across The Universe. It makes you think about right and wrong, control and power, choice and obedience. Godspeed is a scary world to live in. While the actual ship is huge, at the same time it's incredibly stifling. Everything is manufactured - rain, sunlight, the water is more than just 'recycled' and we're given a whole new definition to the word "fertilizer". it makes you appreciate how lucky you are to have the freedom of breathing fresh air, to look up and see the stars, to run and just keep running... not collide with wall that is literally the end of your world. They may be traveling across the universe, but the end of their universe can be seen with the naked eye.

One man holds all the power in Godspeed - after the "Plague" many years ago, a system was put into place where an "Eldest" leads the ship. Eldest is the one who will train Elder to become the next leader of their people. While I may love the character of Elder, I certainly DO NOT love Eldest. He's... hmm, I think this is a PG rated blog. I will refrain from saying what I think about him. His way of thinking and leading is so twisted and warped... yet at the same time, I can actually understand what he's trying to achieve. I don't agree or condone with his methods - I think they're sick and twisted and create a world so far removed from the original Earth. But I can understand why he believes it's the right thing. Doesn't make me dislike him any less though. His opinion is absolute and the inhabitants of Godspeed blindly follow along without question, without a doubt that this existence they're living is so abnormal.

Eldest expects Elder to continue on with his reign of control in the same way he's been leading. But Elder isn't like the people on the Feeder level, he thinks for himself. He and the permanent patients in the Ward at the Hospital are very much unlike the Feeder's of Godspeed. The Feeders are basically sheep. They follow, they obey. They just exist. No emotions, no opinion, they live and they breath and they work. They're considered sane. Those who rebel, those who think creatively - tell stories, paint art, are able to solve and analyse, think and feel for themselves are the crazy people. That's what centuries of brainwashing will do to you - give you a warped view of sanity.

But not everything on the ship is evil and twisted and fake. I love Harley, Elder's friend with a love of painting, koi fish and the stars. It's also worth mentioning that they have made scientific advances in their centuries travelling through space. Floppies - which are basically paper thin computer devices. Kind of like an iPad... but on a piece of plastic paper. If that makes sense! They have an easier solution to communicating with someone, although I think I'd much rather use a phone. And then there's their language - brilly, chutz and frexing are commonly used phrases. During and after reading, I realised I'd actually adopted 'frexing' as my new swear word LOL. I'm not an f-word person, so when in need of using it I come up with my own weirdo alternatives. Well now I don't have to, because Beth gave me a new frexing cool word!

The relationship between Elder and Amy isn't hot and steamy and full on - there is a developing attraction there, although I did see mroe coming from Elder than Amy. But I'm interested to see what happens in the sequel, not only between Elder and Amy, but how the ship continues after certain developments at the end of the book.

Some things were predictable - well, for me they were. I figured out a number of plot revelations early on in the story, although there were a few that took me by surprise. But the predictably did not deter me from thoroughly enjoying this story.

Overall, the hype surrounding Across The Universe before release, along with the beautiful cover, both lived up to expectations. The story within is fantastic - a fascinating and disturbing look into a society evolved entirely in space. This is one book you should add to your wishlist!

Rating: 5/5


  1. I REALLY want to read this book. I've read so much about it now that I'm definitely buying this! Great review.

  2. This book looks AWESOME! Great review!

  3. I so want to read this one. Thanks for the review!

  4. Awesome review!! :) ATU seems like everything other reviewers and readers told me (including you now)...astonishing and just 5 star worthy! I can't wait to read this. Dystopians never fail me!

  5. I thought it was a alright book and gave it a 4star rating on my blog. :) I actually started reading it thinking I wasn't going to like it and almost quit at page 36, but I drudged on thinking it might get better and it did. I found it to very interesting and not at all what I thought it was going to be about.

  6. I've read from a few other reviews that the book was a bit predictable but it's nice to know you were able to overlook that and you still thought it was great! Excited to read this one for myself!

  7. Arrgh! I have really been wanting to read this book... not I CANNOT wait to get my hands on it and devour it. Another non F-word, F-word is Frak from Battlestar Galactica - just to let know.
    Thanks for the review! :D


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