Monday, January 17, 2011

Review: Across the Universe

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

published by

release date: January 11, 2011

hardcover, 398 pages

intended audience: Young adult
(recommended age: 14+)

source: trade


description: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.

Review: Oh my.  This one was fascinating.  Really fascinating.  I don't read a lot of science fiction.  It just tend to be a bit too technical for me a lot of the time.  This one, however, was touted as "science fiction for people who don't like science fiction".  What? Once I read this, that statement  made perfect sense.   Along with being science fiction, it was a romance, a murder mystery, a dystopian...yes, more than anything else, I think I would put this in the dystopian category.  Because more than anything, it is about a futuristic community that has been built on a ship traveling through space.  And what happens when a society has to accommodate being cooped up in a metal cage.  What happens when a leader emerges from the group that thinks he knows what is best for the whole and goes a little overboard with the power and control.

Going into this book, I really had no idea what to expect.  The beginning, for me, was brutal to experience.  The story starts with the introduction of Amy and her parents and describes, in vividly gut-wrenching detail, the procedure they have to endure to be cryogenically frozen. I'm admittedly a bit on the wimpy side when it comes to things like this, especially when it comes to things being forcibly shoved down a persons throat while they are conscious.  So just the first chapter left me just a bit shaky.

I liked the array of interesting characters in this book. Amy has a fiery spirit, made even more so by her anger at being unfrozen and by her determination to protect her parents and the other that are still frozen from being attacked in the same way.  Elder seemed a bit young and innocent, much like a mischievous school boy, but that made sense because of the way he was raised.  The romance in this was light, more about curiosity and fascination than passion, since Amy is the first "different" person he has ever seen and also the first person he's ever met that is his own age.

There were quite a few sexual situations in this, but not like you would expect.  In this wacked-out society, sex has become more of a basic human function than an act of love, and the people of a certain age stop in the streets and sidewalks and field and "mate" not unlike animals in the wild. It was pretty shocking.  And with the situation that it puts Amy in, it also becomes quite frightening.

This story throws a few of those profound, what-would-you-do conundrums at you, where the line starts to blur between right and wrong.  At times, it deals with some pretty heavy themes, like prejudice and misuse of  controlled substances and genetic manipulation. 

This was a gripping tale, definitely one that gets you thinking.  I really enjoyed it and recommend it! An impressive debut novel!

Visit Beth Revis's site here.

Purchase Across the Universe at:   Amazon   •   Barnes & Noble   •   BookDepository



  1. I've been curious about this book and your review is the first one that I've read of it. It definitely sounds worth checking out though I appreciate the warning about the first chapter. I'm pretty squeamish as well so I might just have to skim that section ;)

  2. Tanks for your review !! I can't wait to have this book between my hands ;) !!

  3. I'm reading this now, the beginning was INTENSE. Love the review, gives me hope.

  4. I just got this in the mail yesterday. I too am not a science fiction reader but I read the first 80 pages or so online and knew I had to have my own copy. I'm glad you loved it. I have a feeling it will be competing with Delirium as my favorite YA release in 2011. Great review!

  5. I LOVE this book!!! LOVE IT!! I am not a big science fiction reader either so this one was perfect for me. I'm so glad you liked it! =D

  6. I like the fact that this one is described as science fiction for people who don't like science fiction - that's me! I'm looking forward to reading this when it's released here in March. Great review! :)

  7. I LOVED this book! I was jumping out of my skin at the end....gah!!!


  8. Great review :) I'm reading this and LOVING it.

  9. I'm reading this one right now. I'm the same as you. I was really squeamish during the first chapter when they were talking in detail about the process of being frozen. I was equally as squeamish when Amy was being awakened.

    I have not come to the mating part yet. I was hoping that this book would be tame enough for me to let my 6th graders read (it has been so far), but I'm thinking that situation makes it just a bit too risque for 12 year old in a Catholic school.

  10. The way you describe the beginning sounds very disturbing. Still, looking forward to reading this one myself!

  11. Fascinating review. I've read the first chapter and I know what you mean about feeling a little shaky... it's an unnerving start. Sounds like what follows is completely surprising. I'm hoping I'll love it!

  12. I had seen this cover before but I had no idea what it was about, and the other day I saw someone had reviewed the second book in the series on their blog and looked into it. Your review made me want to start reading now!

  13. I'm not that much of a space book fan, but after reading so many great things about this series I just might need to give it a go!