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Beth Revis – Across the Universe

May 11, 2012

48. Across the Universe by Beth Revis (2011)
Across the Universe, Book 1

Length: 416 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Started: 23 April 2012
Finished: 25 April 2012

Where did it come from? The library booksale.
Why do I have it? I first saw the ad in Shelf Awareness, and then heard everyone and their dog talk it up.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 12 March 2011.

No wonder Amy’s
disoriented: that’s a
very long, cold nap.

Summary: Amy is not sure about this whole freezing thing – her parents have been selected to travel to a new planet, and she has the option of going with them… but it will mean leaving behind everyone and everything she’s ever known, not to mention being cryogenically frozen for three hundred years while their ship crosses the vastnesses of space. But something’s gone wrong… Two hundred and fifty years into the voyage, Elder – the future leader of the entire ship – discovers that Amy’s been woken up ahead of schedule. Amy has a hard time adjusting to life aboard the Godspeed – her red hair and pale skin make her stand out, and the ship’s inhabitants are technologically advanced in some ways but woefully ignorant and odd in others. As Amy and Elder spend more time together, they both begin to realize that there’s something going on aboard ship that Eldest isn’t telling them… and when more frozen passengers begin to be unplugged, the race is on for the two of them to figure out the truth of what’s going on, and just how deep the lies go.

Review: I absolutely devoured this book. It’s written in the exact format – short, action packed chapters from alternating points of view – that is the most dangerous for my bedtime, and I absolutely stayed up late more than one night because I just couldn’t find a satisfactory stopping point; I always wanted to know what was going to happen next.

Wait, scratch that. I pretty much always did know what was coming next; I figured out what was going on with the ship, and with the murders, pretty early on in the book. Revis is not particularly subtle about dropping clues, and the general outline of the plot was pretty predictable. However, the fact that I knew where the story was going and *still* stayed glued to the pages should give you a pretty good idea about how absorbing this book is.

There were a lot of smaller elements that I enjoyed as well. While I got the general outline of the mystery right, I didn’t always get the details, and there were some nicely creative touches throughout. I also appreciated that the romance between Elder and Amy was underplayed, not easy, and not focus of the story, which made it seem more realistic than it otherwise might have been. The pacing is also well done, and I like the fact that the ending wraps up the story, provides a natural stopping point, but still leaves you curious about what’s going to happen next without feeling like you’re committed to reading the rest of the series. However, there were also a few things that bugged me – the lack of subtlety in the building of the mystery was also apparent in some of the characterizations; for example, it’s perfectly clear that Eldest is Not a Nice Guy without coming out and saying that he thinks Hitler was a wise leader. But overall, I devoured this book, really enjoyed it, and am looking forward to reading the next one. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: The “waking up on a cryo ship that’s gone badly wrong in the meantime” reminded me of Rob Grant’s Colony, although the tones of the two books are pretty different. I’d definitely recommend Across the Universe pretty broadly for fans of YA dystopias or YA sci-fi more generally.

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First Line: Daddy said, “Let Mom go first.”

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. May 11, 2012 11:43 am

    I didn’t love this book, but it was still pretty good. I had the sequel out from the library but haven’t had a chance to read it yet…

    • May 14, 2012 9:45 am

      Kailana – I don’t know that I loved it either – in retrospect I can see its flaws much more clearly – but when I was in the middle of it, I Could. Not. Stop. reading it. I’ve got the second one waiting for me at the library; we’ll see if it’s the same.

  2. May 11, 2012 3:55 pm

    This is outside my comfort zone but I really want to give it a try since the author doesn’t live too far from me.

    • May 14, 2012 9:46 am

      Kathy – Oh, that’s neat, local authors are definitely worth trying! I hope your comfort zone can stretch far enough that you enjoy it!

  3. May 12, 2012 1:43 am

    This was one of my favorite reads last year, but then I have a huge weakness for stories about cold sleep. It’s close enough to being like time travel that I can’t resist. I’m a little disappointed in the second book. I don’t know if it was just that I wasn’t in the mood for it, but I quit reading after a couple of chapters and haven’t picked it back up since then. I will give it another try someday soon though.

    • May 14, 2012 9:48 am

      Alyce – Have you read the Vorkosigan Saga books? Cryo-preservation features heavily in several of the books (the most recent one is actually called Cryoburn). There’s a lot of books to get to that point but they’re all so good that it’s totally worth it. And you’re right, it is like time travel! I’d never thought of it that way…


  1. Beth Revis – A Million Suns « Fyrefly's Book Blog
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