Thursday, 21 April 2011

Review: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Dear blog,
book 2 of my attempt at the 2011 Debut Author Challenge.  Be warned: this will no doubt be a very confusing review in which I'll probably contradict myself a lot.

Summary (from Goodreads): 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: If you've been stalking me  reading my blog for a little while, you'll know that I've been interested in reading Across the Universe for quite some time. But I guess as I read more and more good reviews, I became kind of curious about whether or not it was really as good as everyone said it was.  Surely, if there are that many good reviews of it, my own opinions couldn't live up to it?     And I do have something of a love-hate relationship with young-adult dystopian novels at the moment.  Nowadays there are so many of them, and often I end up finishing them and pondering on their originality, or a lack thereof.  I'm still wondering whether it falls into the category of sci-fi/dystopic novels I like and those I don't.

The construction of the ship Godspeed, and the way it functioned, seemed pretty well made.  Your first thought might be that there's only so much that you can have happen on a spaceship, but Beth Revis proves the reader wrong. It's all happening on the Godspeed- there are different levels of class, a secret level of the ship, mind control (sort of...), a mating season , and a ton of other interesting secrets to boot. Oh, and there's a different accent/dialect on the Godspeed, which might seem like a small thing but to me is pretty important if it's done well. I am so going to use "Frex" as an alternate curse word.   One thing: for all the intricacies of Godspeed, it would be nice if we had heard a little more about what was happening on Earth that made it quite so awful.  We get a vague impression: greedy multinational corporations are sucking away everyone's money and such, but that's it.    A little more background to that would be good.

Something I can remember finding fault with in Delirium that comes into play in Across the Universe is that there's no one section of the brain for every emotion.  The same goes for this book, in which certain genes can be put into certain people's DNA to modify their intellect, creativity etc.  Though I said before I am no scientist, I'm sure this isn't how it works.  Are there any neurologists/doctors reading my blog?  Can you clarify this for me, please?  Much appreciated.

Aside from her "flaming red hair", which made me roll my eyes, Amy made for a  pretty readable main character.  I guess my only reservations about her are how perfect she is.   At the start of the book, she seemed pretty self-centred a lot of the time. Maybe that's just because of all the crazy stuff that was happening her but by half-way through the book she seemed to have learned how to roll with the punches. From then on she was more likeable. 

As for Elder...hmm.  I'm not sure whether I like Elder or not.  The initial way he and Amy meet is creepy in a perverted sort of way: more I cannot say because I don't really want to give anything away, so I didn't really want to like him for that.  But there were some moments when he seemed particularly witty or sweet in his certain sort of way, that I couldn't help but liking him more.

Across the Universe is a fantastically suspenseful book, and the pacing is flawless the whole way through, so you're never left wondering whether it's worth skipping forward to the next interesting scene. They're all interesting scenes, and not a word is wasted. The setting makes for some pretty claustrophobic and intense moments throughout.  The ending was...crazy, for a lack of a better word.  One villain meets his demise, another appears as if out of nowhere, and  the novel finishes in the sort of satisfying way where things seem sufficiently wrapped up for now, but there's still an element of curiosity to it and some more questions that need to be answered.  I do wonder if you could get a trilogy out of it, but it would certainly be interesting to see how Amy and Elder live out the rest of their lives on the Godspeed.
So, is it what I hoped it would be?  Not really, but I'm still glad I read it. We'll see how things go in book two. 

In three words: inventive, tense, anticlimactic.
Recommended for: girls who love dystopian fiction.
Rating: 3.

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