Book review: Across the Universe by Beth Revis (Reviewed by Vicki)

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. (from
Space. Not something I’ve ever really felt that drawn to in a book if I’m honest, but for some reason Across The Universe by Beth Revis really appealed to me.  When an early copy came up on UK book tours I signed up immediately and wow, I wasn’t disappointed!

I know Lyndsey said in her review earlier today that she found the book slow to start. Well I have to disagree. I was hooked right from the very start. We begin with Amy making the agonising decision of whether to be cryogenically frozen along with her parents and set off for a new life, on a new planet, 300 years away. Immediately the weight of such a decision plus the horrifying reality of actually being frozen gripped me. It’s far from pleasant and Beth Revis conveyed Amy’s fear and anxiety perfectly, it was so intense!

The book then switches to Elder’s point of view and continues in alternating chapters throughout. Duel Narrative is one of my favourites when it works well, and in Across The Universe it does. Very. Through switching voices we get an all round picture of life on the ship and the pace is kept speedy and fresh. It’s with Elder, who was born aboard the ship several generation after take off that we learn about the dynamics of the ship and the society that has built within it. Then we see a contrast through Amy, who has been awoken 150 years into the voyage and struggles with the cultures and behaviours of a society who have only known life in space. One ritual that has developed is the mating season, and like Amy I found this horrifying. I should warn that in this section no holes are bared, it’s primal and graphic and includes an attempted rape.  For this reason I wouldn’t recommend Across the Universe to younger readers under 14 years old.

At the heart of the story is a murder mystery. This starts out quite tense but ended up being perhaps the weakest element in the book. I worked out pretty early on what was going on. However it was the themes of racial discrimination, dictatorship and leadership, which really made this story for me. It wasn’t something I was expecting to find in this book and was scarily very similar to issues here on earth. While I did guess who was responsible, the journey there was still extremely worthwhile and there were some real ‘OMG’ moments throughout.

The ending sets the scene firmly for a sequel and as I finished the last page I was desperate for more. I became fully immersed in the world Beth Revis created and adored her writing style. I liked and related to both Amy and Elder very much and loved hearing from both sides. There’s definitely a blossoming romance between the two, which while it doesn’t fully take off in this book, a subtle chemistry adds to the story beautifully. Across The Universe ended up being so much more than I expected and one of the best books I read last year. If you think you don’t like sci-fi I’d urge you to still give it a chance. It’s so much more than a book about space, being part murder mystery, part romance and part dystopia too…you won’t be disappointed. I raced through Across the Universe with lightening speed, couldn’t put it down and can’t wait for the next instalment expected some time in 2012!

3 thoughts on “Book review: Across the Universe by Beth Revis (Reviewed by Vicki)

  1. I really like how you have posted a review of the same book by 2 different perspectives, very clever and interesting.
    I have only skimmed the reviews as I have it to read. Brilliant again


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