Publisher: Penguin Group Inc. (2011)
Format: Paperback | 398 pages
Format: Paperback | 398 pages
Genre(s): Young Adult, Science-Fiction
Description (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."
After a week of not reading anything (except a few manga books for a second or third or even fourth time) I picked up "Across the Universe" wearily. I was afraid I was still not in the mood to read and wouldn't enjoy the book. I am glad to say I did enjoy it! It was a quick, satisfying read with all the elements I love in fiction and a few missing that I dislike immensely, which was great. :D
The book opens with Amy, the protagonist, preparing to be frozen for a 300-year journey across space. Humankind is launching their first colonization ship and they estimate that is the time needed to reach the new planet. Because Amy's parents are specialists needed in the mission they, along with their daughter will be put in a cryogenic sleep so they can help organize life on the new planet.
But something goes terribly wrong and Amy is awakened 50 years ahead of schedule. It seems someone on the ship, a descendant of the original crew is attempting to kill the "frozen" people and Amy was supposed to be one of the victims. Saved by a boy named Elder, Amy discovers a strange society on the ship that seems to have completely different rules from the one she knew back on Earth.
"Across the Universe" is part science-fiction and dystopia and part mystery sprinkled with some romance. Although it "tries" to be a lot of things, I believe Revis was successful in balancing everything, except perhaps the mystery because while it was compelling at first it wasn't particularly imaginative or complex. I figured out who was guilty pretty quickly.
Still, I liked the concept of this book a lot. I was amazed at the commitment and sacrifice of the first crew, who knew they and their direct descendants would die on the ship but still boarded.I also liked to see how this human "society" evolved inside that closed space, how different they became from the society we know. It was fascinating to read about the thought processes of characters like Eldest and kind of scary to actually understand, partly, some of his reasoning. I loved that about this book: that there were... shades of grey, I guess. That the 'villains' weren't all bad and the 'heroes' weren't faultless; they were all human doing what they thought best but at the same time corrupted by power and/or trying to preserve a way of life they thought right.
The characters were well developed enough, but sometimes reverted to old YA stereotypes: basically Amy would do something really stupid or Elder would act like a lovesick puppy. But generally they were more level-headed and well fleshed out than most YA characters. The alternating POV helped because we got to know Amy and Elder's thoughts individually. There was one character who wasn't developed at all and that was Orion... he was just plain mean and not especially clever.
Also there was no instantaneous, hot passionate teen romance! Which was refreshing!
Overall this book was a good read. It has a bit of everything, from romance (q.b.) to mystery and the descriptions of life on the ship are really interesting. It isn't particularly complex in terms of story or world building, but it still makes for a fascinating read.