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.

Review

I feel I should give a warning because apparently I have a lot to say about this book.

Just about straight away, and I mean less than five pages, I was already cringing and thinking, “Jeez that has to be uncomfortable. I’d never go on that ship! I don’t care what’s happening back home, they can get stuffed.” I ask you, how good must a writing technique be to bring forth a description that’s already making someone cringe within the first five pages? Granted I really don’t like IVs and like terrible things going into bodies even less (which is funny because being a Diabetic I’ve had so many IVs that I lost count years ago), but to be able to grab someone like that and have them be able to empathise with the character surely must say something about the writing.

I cringed through it, kept going, and thought to myself, ‘if it has already grabbed me now than this must be promising.’ Unfortunately it didn’t take long for me to become frustrated and start questioning that beginning. Across The Universe by Beth Revis is an interesting and perplexing read. It’s interesting because it’s marketed as a Science Fiction/Romance, but the romance is questionable (at least it is to me for reasons I’ll get into) and slight in the story. It’s also very dystopic (I’m so in love with Dystopia I’m picking it up without realising it!), bordering on Totalitarian, and I can say with some degree of certainty that if it wasn’t dystopic I doubt I would have finished it.

This is the part about it being perplexing because it was frustrating me all the way up until after the 200+ page mark (this is a 398 page book) and yet I couldn’t put it down. After that point I finally started getting into it, the frustration was still there at times, but it wasn’t as bad and I could enjoy the reading more.

The story is told from two different P.O.V.s, Amy is the girl who was frozen and Elder is the young male about her age who lives on the ship and who will take over leadership of the people. There’s a combination of superficiality and racism, racism is rife amongst the people on board and the superficiality is mainly from Elder who I don’t like at all. He sees this girl frozen first (and naked) and the things that goes through his head at the time, and through the rest of the story… I tell you what, some future leader of the people. He’s the type of person I’d punch in the groin just to keep him very far away from me. See the thing is, when you’re introduced to this story (especially if you’re thinking it’s a possible romance), it’s natural to think that these two are going to be the romance part of the story because they’re both the same age, but he only has the hots for her because she’s different and all he seems to want to do is bone her because of it.

Granted he is in his mid teens, has rampant hormones, but when he sees this girl frozen and each other time that she is having a problem afterwards, to put it bluntly he pretty much just thinks, “Oh you’re so different, you’re my age, you have boobs, I want to bone you” ok settle down you horny little idiot. Sure he doesn’t say it directly, but you don’t have to be an daft to see that is a lot of what he seems to be interested in. Lets curry favour with the new girl because she might do you a favour. That’s the impression I got from Elder for most of the book and it only got marginally better by the end. As for Amy, does she really have a choice? Not only is she being manipulated by people not seen (till later), but also by Elder.

So I really don’t like Elder and I really don’t like the way this romance is going because *SPOILER* by the end of it it’s just about hunky dory, and what is she going to do? Choose to be alone? She doesn’t want to be alone, but her only option is this horny, manipulative little bastard and I haven’t been this frustrated and vocal reading a YA fiction since I read the Twilight series because what do these two maybe have in common? Two very unhealthy relationships, granted one is still forming if it does truly go that way, and I worry that it’s going to be written off as ok and I can’t find out any of this unless I read the rest. *END SPOILER* The thing is I want to read the rest, now. Somehow through all this frustration I have become hooked!

What does that tell you about this book? I could sit here and say that this book is utter crap, but even though I’m whinging about the characters, the frustration, and a horny teenager, I’ve learnt something over the years from reading books I have this reaction to; If a book can make you have a reaction like this, if a book can make you so frustrated because of the characters, then chances are it is actually a good book. You want to be able to read a book and have a reaction to the characters even if it isn’t favourable. You don’t want to read a book where you can’t imagine these people, can’t have a reaction to them, and can’t picture anything of their environment. How bloody boring would that be?

The real problems I had with Across The Universe (besides Elder, but that’s just because he sucks) was Amy’s reaction to Elder in the beginning when something happens between them because I don’t buy it, the predictability when it comes to the whodunnit, and maybe the ending a little bit because I know this is a trilogy, but you could probably read it as a stand alone and it’s where my interest of it drops a bit because the dystopia part of it is fascinating (sorry, I can’t explain that without a spoiler). I love how that was written, mental conditioning, drug induced mind control, a collection of breeders, drones, and what is almost the control as if it is an experiment, Nazism (with characters comparing the leader to Hitler), all in a space ship is awesome! The thing is, and yes here is another *SPOILER* seeing as that is resolved or at least breaks apart by the end of the novel, I don’t think it’s enough to keep my interest in reading. This adds to being perplexed. I want to read more, but I also don’t if there’s no more dystopia. *END SPOILER*

This is really one of those novels you have to read for yourself to see if you’ll like it, don’t go by what others say. I can tell you that even though it involves space and a space ship, it’s not overly science fiction in the space sense. It really is very dystopic and more of a mystery, with only space being intertwined in these people’s lives.

  • Genre: YA Dystopia/Science Fiction
  • Demographic: Later Teens & maybe early 20s but can be read by an older audience.
  • Reminds Me Of: I can’t say without causing a spoiler!
  • Rating Out of Five: 3 1/2
  • Challenges: Dystopia

4 thoughts on “Review: Across The Universe by Beth Revis

  1. I’d heard about this book on several other blogs and thought it sounded interesting but wasn’t sure if I’d buy it or not. I’m not sure your comments have tilted the scale either way for me yet, but I do appreciate you sharing your thoughts. I’ve (not necessarily on purpose) been on a bit of a dystopian kick lately too, so I’m betting I end up reading this before the year is out…
    -Jay

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  2. Hmm. Very interesting review! I actually had to sit and think back to when I read ATU, and think about your points. I had initially dismissed the thoughts that go through Elder’s head, but now I’m wondering if I missed something important that might change my view of the book. I’ll have to think about it some more…I can’t believe I missed that!!

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