Across The Universe
by Beth Revis
Release Date: January 11, 2011
2011 Razorbill Books
Softcover Edition; 416 Pages
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Source: Review Copy from Penguin Canada
4 / 5 Stars
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.
I really enjoyed this young adult science-fiction novel, especially as they are few and far between. I found the premise rather intriguing and wondered what would make a young girl decide to leave her friends and her life, let herself be cryogenically frozen, and placed aboard a ship destined for a new planet 300 years in the future. In a way, this novel was also partly dystopian, with some mystery and romance thrown in as well.
Across the Universe follows the story of Amy, a seventeen-year-old girl, who is accidentally awakened from her cryogenic chamber almost fifty years before landing on the new planet. Her bright vivid hair and colouring and different thought processes set her apart from the other people on the ship and she finds herself confused as she fights for her life in the face of dangers she little understands. The novel also follows the story of Elder, a boy who is destined to be the next leader of the ship, and we learn through his eyes some of the problems the ship, and its people, are facing. As Elder and Amy become friends and allies, together they must discover the secrets of the ship in order to stay alive.
I really enjoyed Amy's character and could understand her bewilderment and frustration as she learns of the lies and untruths the people have been taught. I found her courageous and smart, someone who is trying to survive in surroundings that are strange and bewildering. When she learns about the strange behaviours of the people on the ship, we see things through her eyes and it makes it seem even worse. The control and discipline that is doled out on the ship is scary and frightening, and many of the scenes are meant to make the reader as uncomfortable as Amy. Ms. Revis is very subtle in her use of language and I have to admire the way she manipulates the language to make you feel a certain way or to make you feel uncomfortable.
The plot was interesting and moved along quite steadily, with engaging questions that kept me entertained for many pages. I enjoyed having the two viewpoints to the story and while that may bother some people, it certainly didn't bother me. The differing point of views really added to the storyline, often adding important clues to the story or sometimes witholding information that made you want to know more. I found that the ending however, was somewhat rushed and I wasn't completely satisfied; it just seemed to end abruptly and too neatly. I wish there had been a little something more to the ending.
I really enjoyed this novel and found the concept of being cryogenically frozen and shipped to another planet rather intriguing. To be awoken before reaching your destination, and dealing with the bitter aftershock of that realization, is an interesting concept and one that was dealt with moderately successfully in this novel. I think that some of the moral implications of this novel were not addressed, but I don't want to speak about them here as I will give away some important plot details, but they do need to be discussed somewhat further. Hopefully, some of the unanswered questions that I have from this novel will be addressed in further sequels to Across the Universe. Otherwise, Across the Universe was a satisfying read.