Series: Across the Universe #1
Release Date: January 11, 2011
"Inside the ship, we are always surrounded by one another, so much so that we cherish our tiny private rooms and time alone. Never before have I appreciated how truly alone we are on this ship. There is no one else but us... If we fail, there is no one out there to see. If we die, there is no one out there to mourn us." ~p.335
So let me start out by saying, this book probably had one of the craziest and most ambitious plot premises I've ever read. It was absolutely mind-blowing to think of what it would be like to be cyrogenically FROZEN for a couple HUNDRED years in a space ship zooming through space, only to be woken up early, knowing that you'll never see Earth again, and that you may not even make it off that ship ALIVE. I mean,that's just totally insane right?!
I included the above quote from the book because I wanted to point out just how amazing Beth Revis is at creating a real sense of fear, loneliness, and desperate entrapment aboard Godspeed. In fact, the strange and alien world inside the ship was probably one of the most fascinating aspects of this book. It was sort of like this dystopian microcosm, where everything is in miniature and everyone basically lives in captivity like animals. It is the job of "Eldest," the leader of the ship, to maintain order and keep out the causes of discord on Godspeed as it courses its way through the Great Unknown towards a planet that is impossibly far away. The setting was just very refreshing and different.
I also really loved the two main characters in this book-- Amy and Elder-- and how the story is told chapter by chapter through their alternating points of view. It was easy to tell which POV I was reading from because they both had totally unique perspectives. I also loved that both of them could think for themselves-- Amy was a spirited, emotional character who refuses to believe that life on Godspeed is natural, and Elder is constantly challenging Eldest and his methods for controlling the ship. Both Amy and Elder were very well-developed, since they both had distinct personalities, memories, and histories. This made it easy to slip into each character's identity and get lost in their story.
The only character I had a problem with was Eldest because he came across as a weak villain to me-- he just didn't seem all that dangerous or intimidating, and his character was even described multiple times throughout the story as childish and foolish. This made it difficult for me to take him serious, and even though he acted like a dictator at some points, I would've been able to respect his character more if he came across as more villain-ish!
I did have a couple other *minor* issues with the story. First was my big question about whether Godspeed had ANY contact with Earth anymore-- I found it difficult to wrap my head around the idea of putting this big of an effort into sending humans out into space to inhabit a whole new planet and then not have any means of communication between Earth and the ship. Secondly, I didn't really find many of the "shock value" elements of the dystopian world aboard Godspeed to be all that "shocking" or new. The empty drone-like citizens, the mad-scientist doctor who messes with DNA and reproduction, the manipulation of history to conceal the past, and the euthanasia of the elderly-- I've read about all of this before in other books. But at the same time, it did enforce just how desperate Eldest was to maintain total and absolute control over society on the ship, and also just how desperate this society was becoming after being stuck inside metal walls for hundreds of years...
Also-- and I don't want to spoil anything-- but I TOTALLY saw the whole thing with Harley coming.
ALSO-- the part where Amy gets drugged and acts all loopy? Umm, DYING LAUGHING. I KNEW Beth Revis had like the greatest sense of humor! :D (See-met-tree-cul LOL)
The cliff-hangers and plot twists towards the end of the book and the whole crux of the Plague incident had me with my eyes glued to the pages for the last few chapters. What exactly is going on with Godspeed and what is its ultimate mission? I loved how there were plenty of mysteries to be solved-- not just with who the killer was, but basically with the entire ship and its mission. Pieces of the puzzle only came together slowly, which was a *little* frustrating, but it totally kept me on the edge of my seat.
Overall, Across the Universe had me captivated and was a lot of fun to read. I loved the world-building, the unique setting, the mystery and suspense, and the overall mood of the story, along with the main characters Amy and Eldest. My curiosity and fascination with this world out in space has left me looking forward to reading A Million Suns to see what happens next--I'm pretty sure that this will be a series that I follow to the end!
Some of you guys may have heard me tell this *slightly* embarrassing story before, but just for kicks, I'll tell it again. So, I swear that for the longest time, I thought that the image on the cover of Across the Universe was-- an amoeba. I kid you not. It was that whole negative-space trickery going on, and for whatever reason, my brain could only see that light-pink sparkly piece and see some weird blob-thing. It wasn't until I was holding the book IN MY HANDS that I stopped and was like "WHAT THE..?!" Because CLEARLY it is an image of two people in profile, the guy hovering over the girl, about to kiss her. Yeah, I have NO IDEA where the heck I came up with an AMOEBA. But um... long story short, I love this cover, it rocks-- whether you see it as two people kissing or a giant celestial blob, it is one awesome book cover.