Sunday, January 16, 2011

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 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.

"Many won't. They won't care to know, they won't seek any kind of truth. Some will-and they will not believe the truth. But others will need the truth, and crave it, and they will seek it..." - Amy

Okay, so as I write this, I’m a little bit conflicted as to what my review is going to say. I’m gonna start off though by saying this debut novel has one of coolest/prettiest cover and title. This, plus the very intriguing plot synopsis quickly drew me in like a moth to flame, getting me to go as far as pre-ordering this eBook on kindle. With that said, I’m not so sure whether I loved it, or just simply liked it.

This book, as shown by the description, is clearly dystopian. I’m not a big Y.A. dystopian book reader (other than The Giver and the Uglies Series) but from what I can tell, this genre is a rising favorite among the readers these days. As far as being a dystopian novel goes, I thought Beth Revis did a splendid job. When I feel the need to hurl my Kindle against the nearest wall because people just can see what a lying and manipulating society (under the guise of the collective good) their living in, then you know you’re on the right track. Revis incorporated great descriptions on life aboard the Godspeed and everything from the metal walls crashing in, to the fake light bulb they call sun, to how un-really “perfect” everything was felt real. And even more, Amy’s despair at her situation was more than palpable. With that said, I think it was the characters that ruined the story somewhat for me

Before I even get into the characterization, I must pause and say that I hated how much the perspectives changed between the two main characters. Normally, I really love books that present both the female and the male lead’s point of views. Yet in Across the Universe, I felt Revis went a little overboard in this aspect. I had not read more than a page or two, and bam, another character was narrating. There were times where I even got confused and had to go back a few pages just to see who was talking in the first place. Basically, the constant change of perspectives damaged the flow of the story and for me it was hard sometimes to get into what the novel was saying.

Now, onto to the characters. Starting off with Amy, I have to say that out of the two leads, I sympathized more with Amy’s character. It could be due to the fact that were both from Sol-Earth, but I think the main reason was that her character was more developed than Elder’s. Amy and her parents are all frozen aboard a ship called Godspeed in hopes that in 350 years, Godspeed will reach Centauri-Earth (a new habitable planet) were Amy’s parent’s skills (in genetic modification and the military) will be put to use. She is (as Eldest classifies her) a nonessential. It is due to her parents that Amy is on board, yet something goes wrong and she is unplugged ahead of schedule. To me, Amy’s reaction to life on Godspeed and the reality of what her new life entails was heart wrenchingly genuine. Even so, I enjoyed her strength among all the adversity she faced. No matter what new detail or horrors she discovered on the ship, her resolve to live and tell others the truth about how life is supposed to be never wavered.

It’s Elder’s character that I had problems with. To me, I never got a sense of who Elder was. He’s supposed to be the ship’s future leader but even before Amy’s arrival, Elder is questioning how things are done and why. It just takes Amy to push him in the right direction. You could say he and Amy were close, and there were definitely strong feelings between the two, but I wouldn’t classify what they had as a romance. Even so, for most of the book, I thought I had Elder pegged (strong, sweet, smart, loyal) but as we reached the end and new things were revealed about Elder, it was like I never knew him. And not only did that throw me, but it disappointed me upon completing the book. Secondary characters were a tad stronger. Eldest was definitely a controlling tyrant and Doc was willing OCD participant in his schemes. Harley, on the other hand, was a good character to contrast with Amy and Elder. He was quirky and curious and it broke my heart any time I saw him suffer.

All in all, the book was pretty good. The mystery aspect combined with the "who done it” was well done without overpowering the dystopian theme. Also, the book raised some tough questions about the human nature and what difference between right, wrong and survival is. The last few pages left the space for a possible sequel, and though it would be nice to see how things progressed after, I think Beth Revis should leave this one be. The writing and story were beautiful unto to itself and some books are better off being left as they are.

Consensus: Beth Revis creates a pretty rocking debut to start of 2011 Y.A. series. If you’re interested in good dystopian read to start you’re year off, Across the Universe is it.

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