Across the Universe
By Beth Revis
Genre: Young Adult
Published 2011, Razorbill
Hardback, 398 pages
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.The opening of this novel was a bit too nauseating for my tastes, with the details of how the people aboard the spaceship Godspeed are cryogenically frozen turning my stomach, but it certainly served to make the book more realistic. I had wrongly assumed that Beth Revis would open the novel with Amy already frozen, or just waking up, but this approach has me evaluating my own life and what it would take to volunteer for such a mission. Waking up 300 years in the future, leaving behind everything you have ever known, without even the option to return to it -- such an existence feels very lonely to me. Already I have a certain respect for Amy's choice.
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.
The perspective of the male main character, Elder, alternating with Amy's thoughts and dreams in her frozen state were interesting. I kind of expected Amy to finally wake up mad as a hatter from her conscious entrapment. Eldest likely would have just dumped her into space if that had happened.
The encased world that had been created inside the spaceship Godspeed was both mind-boggling in its vastness and claustrophobic in its simplicity. Many things are seen as commonplace, such as genetic manipulation and mass control through brain-washing and the widespread use of drugs. Many things are backwards from what I know in today's reality, such as Eldest's support of Hitlerian tactics, and the idea that those of creative and genius-level intellect are "crazy", while the mind-numbed masses are "normal." The language has also evolved into a kind of slurred and shortened English that Amy struggles to understand, as well as the addition of new slang terms.
Amy has quite an uphill battle in enacting change on this ship for the better, especially with her red hair, green eyes, and pale skin. I certainly would not want to be in her shoes, but I admire her resolve and determination despite how alone and trapped she feels. Elder is ignorant and immature at the beginning of the novel, but Amy's presence wakes him up to the reality of his world and his responsibility towards it.
The book does not have a real "ending" so much as a place to pause -- until the next book comes out. There were a ton of questions I had at the end that I hope are resolved in the next book, such as Doc's lack of an apprentice. On to A Million Suns!
The Cover: The cover was one of the main reasons I wanted to read this book, even though I am usually not a science fiction fan. I just keep going back to that cover.
First Line: "Daddy said, 'Let Mom go first.'"
Just from that first line, I can guess that the main character has a closer connection with her father than her mother. I am intrigued.
Favorite Quote: "This is the secret of the stars, I tell myself. In the end, we are alone. No matter how close you seem, no one else can touch you."
Read For: Young Adult Challenge, Dystopia Challenge