Across The Universe
by Beth Revis
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. -(summary from Goodreads.com)
: I read this book immediately after Ship Breaker
by Paolo Bacigaupi, which I absolutely loved. This is one of the best bookish moves I have made in a long time. It made for a really super great stretch of reading. I devoured Across The Universe
in about 24 hours, and it wasn’t exactly a small book. I *almost* wish I had not read it yet so I could read it again.
Amy is a teenager who allows herself to be cryogenically frozen and placed on the Godspeed, a gigantic spaceship that is heading to another planet to establish life and residency there. She is on board with her parents and a large group of other ‘essential’ people. They are to remain in their frozen state for 300 years and will be thawed upon arrival to the new planet. Elder is a young man who is second-in-command on the Godspeed. All he knows is life on the ship. He is preparing and studying to soon take command from the aging Eldest.
After being frozen for about 250 years, Amy is thawed…and her world is turned upside down when she discovers she is thawed fifty years early! Not only is Amy thawed, but others are being thawed as well…one by one…and some die in the process. Amy and Elder work together to figure out who is behind all of the chaos and to save the rest of the ‘frozens’ before it is too late.
The book is written in alternating points-of-view between Amy and Elder. This typically has the potential to be a bit annoying to me, but in this book I did not think that the case at all. In fact, I think it actually worked to the advantage of the story. I was able to keep up with what was going on with seamless transition between the two narrators without having to backtrack and re-experience the same situations, which can sometimes happen if an author is not careful. Ms. Revis made sure that the flow of the story was never broken as we switched from Amy to Elder and back, and that meant so much to me as a reader.
I love Sci-Fi stuff – movies, stories, books, whatever. This book did not disappoint me. In fact, as I was reading it reminded me of two of my favorite Sci-Fi things:
- The movie Sunshine, which was directed by Danny Boyle and starred Cillian Murphy (two of my all-time favorites in the movie industry).
- The short story “All Summer in a Day” by Ray Bradbury.
In the movie Sunshine, there is a crew living on ship where murder is being committed. Nobody knows who it is, and at times, everyone suspects everyone else. Tension is high and emotions are volatile. And in the end, the person committing the crimes admits that he/she was only doing so for the greater good of mankind. I got the same vibes from Across The Universe. When they finally figured out who was thawing the frozens, he/she made a big speech about how it was for the best and all that. I was reading Across The Universe with my eyes, but re-living Sunshine in my head. (It was actually a very cool time for me, seriously.)
In Ray Bradbury’s beautiful “All Summer in a Day,” Margot is a child who moved to Venus from Earth a few years previously. She has a very difficult time coping in her new home because the sun only shines for two hours every seven years. Of all of her classmates, she is the only one who knows and remembers the experience of sunshine. Her classmates, however, do not believe her memories of the sun and of Earth, and ridicule her. This is eerily similar to Amy’s predicament, as she is the only thawed frozen at the time of the story, and therefore the only one on the entire ship who has first-hand memories of the planet Earth. As a result, she is made fun of and even physically attacked for this difference.
If you have read my thoughts on Ship Breaker (see the link above), you may remember that I talked a bit about feeling claustrophic while I was reading it. Do you remember that? Well, this book did it as well. How could I now feel at least a little bit claustrophobic after spending so much time with Amy and Elder on a ship where even the passengers have never seen the stars outside of it? They do not have windows for their use, so they are not aware of the beauty and vastness of space, the stars, or the Earth. Reading about the dimensions of the ship and the very sight of the metal on all sides of them, including under their feet at times, made me feel almost as confined as Elder and Amy were feeling. I do not like that feeling in real life, but I love it in a book…because it takes great writing to bring on the claustrophobia. Awesome job, Ms. Revis…
Would I recommend this book to other people? I would definitely recommend it to older YA readers and adult-age readers of YA fiction…and to anyone who loves dystopian literature. I think it is a good YA science-fiction novel, so I might would even recommend it to a Sci-Fi fan, even if they did not necessarily read YA stuff. I would caution younger readers, however. There are some themes and scenes that parents should definitely consider before letting their younger YA reader loose with this one.
It is a remarkable book and I want to read a sequel as soon as possible!