Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Review: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

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 awake 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 a 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.

Across the Universe was a book I had such high expectations of. Possibly too high. It didn't turn out to be everything I expected...which isn't necessarily a bad thing. But it's not exactly a good thing, either. This here is going to be a mixed review, because even now I have seriously mixed feelings about this book!

Where to begin, where to begin...how about the beginning? Because Revis's first chapter? Stunning! Talk about grabbing a reader right from the get go! Across the Universe starts with Amy and her parents about to be cryogenically frozen, and Revis goes into amazing and fascinating detail about this process - first as Amy watches her parents go through the procedure, and then as Amy herself does. Revis's descriptions here packed a physical wallop - my fingers were clenched around my Kindle and I was holding my breath. My high expectations were certainly confirmed by this chapter.

Unfortunately, however, the grip of the first chapter? Didn't hold for long. I started out so intrigued and completely hooked, but after a bit I felt like I was reading and reading but getting nowhere. It got to the point that I simply had to put it down and try reading something else. I'd try picking it up again, only to feel the same way, so in the end it actually took me a couple of weeks to read this one. Even when some of the action picked up it still took a while before I could say I was hooked again.

The thing is though, despite my feeling as though it was dragging and my putting it down for days at a time, I was still intrigued enough that I wanted to keep reading. It never once crossed my mind that I wouldn't finish this book. Much of that has to do with Revis's creating an original world that I found both fascinating and terrifying. Imagine, a spaceship full of generations of people born and raised within it walls, all living by a routine set in place to get them and their VIP frozen cargo to a new planet. Revis's writing brought this world to scary-realistic life, and much like her first chapter, her descriptions often ensured a physical response. Amy, waking to this world, feels trapped and remembers Earth in such a way that I couldn't help but take my eyes off my Kindle in order to look out my window, and just breathe. The claustrophobia of the Godspeed certainly translated into my world!

In much the same way, Revis's characters are like her world - both fascinating and oddly terrifying. I felt for Elder's never being able to know more, and I found the people of the ship disturbing to the point that sometimes I wanted to smack them all. Eldest is a guy I never want to meet in real life, and his views and twisting of our history had me gasping out loud. I loved Harley - I'll never look at stars quite the same way! Finally, I liked Amy in an odd sort of way. Sometimes I found her seeming acceptance of her situation a little annoying and flat, but soon realised that that was the point. She's a girl caught in an impossible situation that she is completely unable to comprehend and I felt like her easy acceptance was in fact the opposite - a denial of her situation. After the revelation of the ending, I'm interested to see where Amy goes from here. I was pleased to see Elder and Amy's relationship develop slowly, and it's what I'm most looking forward to in the next book.

There is a lot to Revis's world in Across the Universe, and while interesting, it did sometimes hinder the overall pace. While I didn't find the Eldest/Elder idea confusing, it was at times frustrating and played a big part in making the plot feel as though it was dragging. It didn't help either that the plot was fairly predictable and I knew who the 'bad guy' was at their first introduction. Many of the twists and revelations weren't overly surprising, unfortunately. However, some of these moments - like the Season, for example - were still able to produce an emotional response due to Revis's descriptions and their nature, and in the end that stuck with me more. It's eerie just how closely connected this world and its characters are to our world today - and Revis has done well in pushing those similarities.

Overall, Across the Universe wasn't everything I was hoping it would be. Many times it just felt too slow, but it was different and intriguing enough that I am glad to have read it to the end. For Revis's writing alone I'll be reading the next book in the series.

For fun, check out the website for Across the Universe. The blueprints of the Godspeed are awesome and exactly how I pictured the ship!


Publisher: Penguin/Razorbill
Published Date: 11th January 2011
Format: Kindle Edition

Challenge: 2011 Debut Author Challenge


  1. I read a book a little while ago and had an experience similar to yours where I wasn't exactly enjoying the book, but I needed to know how it ended!

    x D

  2. I am glad I pushed through, I did like it in the end. Hopefully the next book in the series will be more 'grab-me-and-never-let-go'.