Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"Across the Universe" by Beth Revis Review

Across the Universe

Amazon Best Books of the Month, January 2011: As the spaceship Godspeed travels toward a new earth, the lives of 100 cryogenically frozen settlers hang in the balance after someone endeavors to quietly murder them. The other passengers aboard the ship have never known life outside its walls and are enslaved by the machinations of Eldest, their tyrannical leader, who divides them into three distinct classes. When Amy, a frozen settler from earth, survives being thawed in a murder attempt, she immediately bonds with Elder, Godspeed's lone teen and future leader. Amy’s individuality, her rebellion, and her fierce desire for freedom, inspire Elder to act on his own doubts and defy Eldest--his mentor and keeper--with shocking results. Eldest’s methods of twisting history and altering the lives of this captive community are a frightening echo of tyrants in our own history, and Across the Universe challenges readers to consider the impact of unchecked power, blind trust, and the ability of one dissenting voice to make a difference.-- Seira Wilson
I don't read much sci-fi at all, so for me the concept of a ship of colonists off to settle a new planet was novel and interesting. I hear it's a standard set-up for this genre, but since I read almost exclusively YA, it was new to me. 
The first chapter, where Amy describes the freezing, was brutal. I mean that as a compliment. The writing was tense and graphic, and I thought this was going to be one awesome and gripping read. 
But, then it really wasn't. 
There are some awkwardly written sentences and descriptions that distracted from the story. I started counting and Elder describes Amy's as having "sunset hair" five times in about four pages. 
I didn't like the POV switching from Amy to Elder and back again with each chapter. The head-hopping jerked me out of the story. Plus, we had a huge instance of narrative misdirection that was revealed at the end. 
One of our narrators lied to us, and I'm still not sure how I feel about that. It was a shocking twist, to be sure, but I don't really like narrative misdirection. 
When the reader is supposed to wonder about a key point, it's spelled out too clearly. Elder will hear a bit of info or make a discovery and then the point gets pounded home: "But what if this means..." or "Could it be that..." Not the most subtle strategy. 
The mystery of who was unplugging the frozens wasn't that mysterious. 
Anytime a book has something graphically sexual in it, I want to know ahead of time. When the entire ship basically goes into heat at the same time during The Season, they're running around breeding like animals. That was gross enough, but I had no idea there was going to be an attempted and very intricately described sexual assault on Amy. For some readers, this scene alone would be a dealbreaker, especially if you read YA because it usually has less mature content. 
There are faux curse and slang words in this book. Frexing, chutz, brilly...much like the made up words in The Maze Runner by James Dashner. For me, it's distracting. 
There is also a suicide where a character leaps into space. I'm not a sciencey person by ANY stretch, but I thought one of the basic principles of space travel was that you can not open the space ship?? I don't think you can just open the hatch and jump out. 
Finally, something non-depressing needs to happen in this series or I won't be reading any further. I want the ship to make it to their new world in a timely manner so Amy's parents can be woken up and still get to spend some of their lives with their daughter. That's just the Mom in me, I think. I'm not sure I'm interested enough in the future of these characters to read the next book unless I happen across it in the library someday when I can't find anything else to read. It was just an OK read for me.
3 Cupcakes
*This review  also on*

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