on 11 May 2011
It sounded good when I read the blurb: a sci-fi set in the future and space, with perhaps a romantic twist and a murder mystery to boot. It had all the ingredients to make a good YA story. Unfortunately the author didn't quite cook them right and the outcome wasn't as tasty as I thought it would be. To be honest, it wasn't one of my favourite sci-fi novels and it took me quite a while to read it. There were some good bits and bad bits and so it was completely average. I didn't think there was anything to make it stand out as the "next big thing".
What I liked about the book:
The romantic element was good because it didn't actually become a whirlwind romance nor was it a "love at first sight" kind of thing. There was definitely a spark between the two characters and their relationship grew, but there was no declarations of love which would have made the whole thing completely unrealistic. Elder the main character is definitely not perfect and a revelation about him at the end was one that I definitely did not see coming. It's nice to see a YA novel in which the main male character isn't 100% perfect. He has his flaws. He's still learning and growing up and so he's prone to make mistakes. This makes him seem much more realistic and in my opinion, because he's not a cliched "broody, mysterious, I'm a bad boy - oh no I'm actually not, I'm perfect" character, he is much more likable and it's easier to see yourself in his shoes.
I also liked how each chapter would switch points of view, first Amy and then Elder. I preferred Elder's parts as the story developed but to begin with they were a little bit slow and boring. Amy's parts to start with were interesting and then slowed down a bit while she was frozen.
HARLEY! He was the only character I really really liked and cared about. I'm not going to tell you what his involvement was because it's hard to without giving anything away, but his character was cool and quite loveable.
Things I didn't like about it:
THE PLOT TWIST! It's a good storyline but the author wasn't very subtle about her presentation of it. I solved the murder mystery when the first one happened! It was so obvious and the author was practically screaming the clues out at us. I saw the link between the victims straight away but then I had to wait for practically the whole book before the characters realised the link - only about 60 chapters too late! The murder mystery plot was too predictable and this seriously let the book down for me because there was no challenge in it what so ever.
It had a SLOW start. I would say the first 20% of the book was the worst. Also, the book had so many chapters and some of them were a little boring - they were almost like "fillers" that weren't really vital to the plot. Because of this it I didn't find it to be a complete page - turner and had to read it in stops and starts.
Overall, I would say this book is ok but not brilliant. The sequel A Million Suns comes out in a year but I'm not waiting in eager anticipation. I haven't decided if I will read it yet, I'm not really bothered what happens to them next time. Read it, enjoyed bits of it and probably wouldn't read it again. I recommend it to those of you who liked Stephanie Meyer's The Host or something along those lines.
So imagine this? You've read so many young adult fiction books that you're pretty sure if someone cut you open you'd bleed predictable arrogant boys and typical shy but beautiful girls with an obvious, slightly cheesy, plot right? Well then read this!
This is absolutely incredible. This is the point where I have to tell you not to judge a book by it's cover because, in my opinion, it doesn't strike me as a book that's going to make me think or excite me. But this was so different to what I expected and in such a good way. Now enough of the gushing, here's why:
In a world pretty much exactly like ours is right now, people are getting cryogenically frozen. Only the select few. Why? Well we need to preserve them for their trip across the universe where their intellectual or military-trained brilliance will allow them to create life and forge a possibility for existence on another planet. So, our planet is Sol-Earth. Which I take to mean original Earth. And the planet our frozen friends are flying (On GodSpeed - some super cool spaceship) to is Centauri-Earth. As in centuries away. Actually, 300 years away. Give or take one or two.
Amy is our leading lady. Our leading, about-to-be-frozen, lady actually. Her parents work for the company deciding on this project and are being cryogenically frozen so Amy has been given the option too, as cargo rather than as an essential person for the mission. The great thing is that we get to see the entire freezing process - the even better thing though is getting an insight into what it's like once she is frozen. I was shocked that her brain was still functioning (in that she wasn't asleep), she seemed to be having almost coherent thoughts. I loved that, I thought that was a brilliant idea from Revis and really well portrayed.
Which leads me to Elder (because Amy is frozen now for 300 years). Elder is on Godspeed. Years in the future he is the very ship transporting Amy to Centauri-Earth. I really liked Elder (his name is explained if you're thinking it's a bit of a silly name). He's not like the typical young adult love interest because he's a really good stand-alone character. Upon Godspeed Elder starts to notice strange happenings - somebody keeps unplugging the frozen people, which kills them by drowning. One "almost" victim is Amy, but luckily she isn't killed in the unplugging process. Essentially we're calling unplugging murder.
So the journey begins, and the relationship of course, between Elder and Amy to find the murderer. There are little quirky ideas that I liked a lot that Beth Revis has thrown into the mix. Like the concept of a "monoethnic" community of people which supposedly reduces discord upon the ship. Ideas like this which are really quite shocking made me think about the book and the concepts; any book that forces the reader to think and ask questions is, to me, a success. Other ideas that were science related were great as well, like the medi-patches (tiny, needle-infested, patches which calm people down). The explaination of some of these things was very well thought out.
I recommend this book wholeheartedly. It sat, dejected, on shelf for quite some time because I doubted it's potential and I really wish I had moved it to the top of the pile sooner. It was a fantastic read, and if you're anything like me and you think you've read so much YA fiction that you just can't be surprised anymore then I implore you to read this. You'll be pleased!
on 14 April 2011
This is the first book from author Beth Revis in her new Sci-fi series Across the Universe.
The story follows two main characters. First, we meet Amy who joins her parents on a spaceship to be frozen for the next 300 years, so when they awake, they will help build a new world on a new planet. Then there's Elder, who was born aboard the spaceship and is being trained to become the next leader. Amy's & Elders lives become intertwined when someone on the ship releases Amy early from her frozen bed, and now they must work together to find out who was trying to kill her and the other frozen people aboard.
I'll be quiet honest when I say I don't usually read these type of books, but a number of things attracted my attention with this one. The book cover is so eye catching and beautiful, the blurb really grabbed my attention and then there is everyone else's reviews. In the end I picked this book up straight away and even though I did like the story, it wasn't as good as I thought it would be.
I felt the first 20% of the book let the story down because, Amy is just frozen and dreaming in her frozen bed and Elder's parts, I found quiet boring. It wasn't until Amy was woken up that the story started to get slightly interesting. After that, I did find myself enjoying the story and I was eager to find out what happens.
A highlight of the book for me was, how much I enjoyed all the characters once we got past that first 20%. I especially liked Harley and its such as shame how things ended with him. I enjoyed how Amy's & Elder's relationship slowly built up but, I do wish there had been a little more romance in the book than there was. I also found myself trying to work out who the murderer was and was delighted to find that I had guessed right in the end.
The end of the story does give us readers a little hope to Amy's and Elders relationship and I can't wait to see how that plays out.
Overall, I did enjoy this story and I will continue to read the rest of the series once they have been released.
on 30 May 2014
Across the Universe is a book that I feel I've been waiting forever to read, it's been on my TBR shelve for ages, and I've had it on my kindle for just as long, so when I started organising my reading by months I decided that it was time. This books started out good but I'm sad to say that it isn't without its flaws.
My biggest issue with this book was how it was so predictable. I knew who the 'killer' was from the start and I also knew things they tried to subtlety hint at only to reveal at the end. And anyone who knows me , knows I have a very hard time getting over the predictability of a book, there's only a few books that I still enjoy despite it.
Now don't get me wrong, it wasn't all bad. I liked some of the characters, sadly they we the sub characters. I found the main ones high annoying, Eldest was maybe the worst character out of the lot, I really didn't like him. The world that Beth Revis was good, but just not for me, I wasn't blown away and maybe that was because I had went into it excited about reading it after so long and in a way, expecting to feel more.
The relationships in it I also didn't get. The only one for me that was believable was between a sub character and his dead girlfriend. I just didn't think Elder and Amy worked well together at all, others may disagree with me but that's how I fell.
I think this book would have been brilliant for its target audiences which I'm guessing is between 12-16, but I don't think that anyone above that age would feel the same as they do and connect with it as much. So just because I didn't really like it as much as I would have hoped, doesn't mean its all Bet Revis's fault, it just isn't one of those YA books that you could read regardless of age.
on 9 April 2013
Over the years, there have been many authors who have tackled the idea of a multi-generational starship, many patterned after Heinlein's seminal Orphans of the Sky. This book is no exception, with once again something going seriously wrong during the long years of the journey, and resulting in a takeover of the ships operation by a small dictatorial group, or in this case, a single individual, the Eldest. The community is tightly controlled, with the majority of the population kept on sedating drugs and who mate only once a generation.
Into this world comes Amy, one of the group of cold-sleepers who were intended to be woken only at journey's end, where they would form the nucleus of the colonizing party. She is woken from her icy cell under mysterious circumstances, and is immediately confronted with the fact that she is very different, both in looks and mental outlook, from everyone else, as over the years the population has been homogenized into a single racial set of characteristics, and who have unquestioned loyalty to the status quo.
A good set-up, with more details appearing as Amy learns just what is going on in this world and how it got this way. And with her greater knowledge comes opposition to this set-up, as she finds herself comparing the Eldest to Hitler, with apparent good reason. However, I found that as we got deeper into this work, the true moral questions that are raised about absolute control possibly being totally necessary to the success and survival of all are dealt with in far too simplistic a manner. In addition, Amy's emotional responses seem to be those of someone perhaps three of four years younger than her supposed waking age of seventeen, especially in regards to her relationship with the Elder (the Eldest-in-training).
The various mysteries surrounding who woke Amy from her long sleep and various other odd happenings in the ship are fairly easily guessed at by the reader, and once again I had problems with the depicted emotional state and reasoning of the person who did wake her up, as it doesn't quite jibe with the rest of the depicted character.
A good setup, reasonably well described, and the characters are engaging, but I was let down by the simplistic treatments of tough questions and the emotional immaturity of the two main characters.
Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
on 30 October 2011
I didn't love this book. It took me almost a week to finish this story and that is a new record for me. I forced myself to carry on reading just to find out how it would all pan out. So you can imagine my disappointment that upon reaching the end, I discovered that there will be a sequel, (which I will not go out of my way to read).
I thought the premise was wonderful, but in practice the story could of and should have been so much more.
The relationship between Elder and Eldest lacked the depth you would expect from such a unique situation, not nearly enough time was dedicated to them alone.
I felt like so much of what Eldest refused to divulge to Elder was more to drag out the story rather than the partnership functioning that way.
In a better version of this book, Eldest would have had more of a story to tell and I really would have enjoyed to read that.
I loved Elder, he was so well written and the author portrayed very well his youth alongside his maturity within his social role on Godspeed.
Amy was tolerable, but towards the end her naivete became excruciating.
Harley was by far the best of the bunch, and well...
When Amy experiences everything on Godspeed for the first time, everything was too clear and easy to read. Because of this the book has an almost clinical feel.
The whole thing needed a bit more subtlety. I wanted to get more of a feel for how the society ran, how the people thought or didn't.
The big mystery throughout the book isn't a mystery at all. I am the queen of not figuring things out till the very end and even I had this one locked up within the first few chapters.
My biggest bone of contention was the serious lack of emotional range from all the characters (apart from the wonderful Harley) They were always either sad or angry, there was no sweet or deep moments (well they weren't written that way)to balance things out. It's not right that the part of the book that elicits the strongest emotional reaction, has nothing to do with the leads.
on 30 September 2011
I have literally just finished reading this. And I still feel tingly all over!
It didn't have the greatest twist at the end but it gave you just enough to have you desperate
to find out what happens to everyone aboard Godspeed. I really loved the character Elder.
He is so different than any character I've ever read and as someone who hasn't really read science
fiction before I think this was a fantastic first experience for me. And when you consider that
this was Beth Revis' first book, I really am in awe and would love to be able to weave a story the
way she does.
We meet Amy originally just before she and her parents are cryongenically frozen to travel aboard a
ship we later learn is called Godspeed to start a new civilization on a new planet, 350 years away.
We never really learn why they are doing this. Is it because the Earth is dying, or simply because
man has a desire to colnate other planets, to see if it is even possible. They are fairly confident
this new planet will sustain human life but have no way of knowing until they arrive. Amy is classed
as non-ensential. Cargo. She only has a place as a frozen on the ship because her parents are very
important for the colonization of the new planet. But something has gone wrong, there is a murderer on the
loose, someone who woke Amy 50 years too early and left her to drown. But Elder comes along (the future leader
of the ship) and saves Amy. She now has to come to terms with the fact that hse will be an old woman
when they reach the new Earth and finally gets to see her parents again. But even worse, there's still a
killer on the loose after the other frozen people, including Amys parents and she has to try to figure
out why she was woken. nd by who. Whilst also contending eith the fact that theres something very strange
about the current leader Eldest and the other people aboard the ship.
Beth Revis writes mystery very well. She created the world and the ship beautifully so you could really picture it.
She used her own language in parts to really highlight that these people are centuries ahead of us scientifically
and with their language. I was absorbed by the descriptions and the characters and found this very difficult
to put down when that pesky thing we call life got in the way!
I don't want to ellaborate more as to spoil the story, but this is an amazing read. Full of twists and
parts that make you sad........ definately recommended by me!
on 14 March 2011
If you like your romances with a twist then this is the book for you!
The advance hype for 'Across the Universe' has been massive and I've been eagerly awaiting getting my hands on a copy for several months now. When it finally arrived I was torn between wanting to pick it up and tear through it in one sitting or just savouring the delight of having it on my bookshelf and then reading it very slowly to make the enjoyment last. My strength of will didn't last very long however and as soon as I did start it everything else was forgotten. When I'd finished I was left with a feeling of stunned amazement and its taken me several days to put coherant thoughts together about it.
For a start, the story itself is just so original that it's unlike anything else I've read on the teen market. It's described as a cross between Titanic and Avatar and combines romance and aspects of science-fiction. I found myself absolutely immersed in the world that Beth Revis had created and gasping in shock at the many twists and turns and unexpected revelations that occur throughout.
The book gets off to a very strong start with one of the best openings I've ever read. The reader's senses are assaulted with the horror of teenager Amy and her parents being cryo-genically frozen so that they can be transported into space onboard a ship which will take them 300 years into the future where they will re-populate and colonise a new planet. The process is described in pretty graphic detail and is horrifying to witness. This is an example of the way in which Revis doesn't pull any punches in the book.
Each chapter from then on alternates between Amy's point of view and that of Elder who is second-in-command to Eldest the commander and leader of the Godspeed ship and the man responsible for ensuring that everyone onboard the ship gets to their new location safely, even though many will never see the new planet. I found the idea of living onboard the Godspeed and never being able to leave terrible to contemplate. The thought of not breathing fresh air or seeing natural light or feeling real rain or sunshine is horrible. I can understand the depth of despair that some of them feel and the sense of claustrophobia. There are several layers to the Godspeed including the Keeper level, Feeder level and the Shipper level. I enjoyed learning about each of these and the people that live on them.
The book deals with the power of knowledge as well as the danger that too much knowledge can bring. The question of whether or not it is better to know or remain ignorant is touched upon and this is central to the plot of the story.
I enjoyed the burgeoning relationship between Amy and Elder and the gradual blossoming of their friendship. Although Elder experiences romantic pangs for Amy, I'm glad that she's not won over quite so quickly and longs instead to have her parents with her. As this is the first book in a trilogy there's plenty more time for their story to be explored in greater depth.
'Across the Universe' also contains adult themes of rape and incest, although these are written about sensitively and carefully. Still, the inclusion of topics such as these, do mean that the book would probably be more suited to a slightly older teen audience.
I was completely blown away by this book. The ending shocked me, as well as the beginning, and I was sucked into Amy's story from the word go. If you're looking for a mind-blowing read that I would describe in one word as phenomenal then grab a copy of this now!
When I first heard about Across the Universe by Beth Revis, I was definitely interested to read it; after all it's YA IN SPACE!!! This had me excited enough already but it wasn't until I saw the gorgeous cover and read the first chapter that I really began lusting after it. I was HOOKED from the very first chapter which is in my humble opinion *THE* best first chapter I've ever read in my life. The way Beth describes the freezing process is both horrific and fascinating at the same time. And to my surprise it didn't stop there the book just got better and better. To the point that I was sat on the train to London and some noisy children got on and sat opposite me (I am a magnet for children, I have no idea why). Anyway, usually I can't read with that much noise and distraction but I was literally SUCKED into the world inside the book and just zoned out. Here's the gist of the story:
The world of Across the Universe is mostly centred around Amy, a 17 year old girl who has to make a decision early on whether or not to follow her parents (who are essential to terraforming new planets) onto Godspeed, a shape ship that will take 350 years to reach its destination. When Amy wakes, things are a little different to what she expected. For one, not only was she reanimated 50 years too early but it was no accident and she must face the realisation that someone tried to kill her. The question is why? As more "frozens" are being left out to thaw, the hunt is on for the killer. Amy teams up with Elder, the future leader of the people aboard Godspeed and together they discover that the ship holds many secrets which will make them question everything they've ever known.
Amy is one of our main protagonists and Godspeed (a world in itself) is built on monoethnicity, an idea put into practice to prevent one of the main reasons for discord: differences. And of course, Amy stands out like a sore thumb with her pale skin and flaming red hair. But it is her differences that first capture the attention of Elder, our other main protagonist and by far my favourite character. Elder is second in command of the people (rather than the ship, the ship runs itself) and a future leader in training. I liked his inquisitiveness and the way he wasn't afraid to question things. And for a 16 year old boy, I really admire his courage and integrity. He certainly has the traits I would like to see in a leader. But he's frustrated because Eldest (the current leader) appears to be neglecting his duties in preparing Elder for the time when he must lead and that frustration is felt throughout the book. I thought that Beth captured the plight of a teenage girl who realises that she won't ever see her parents again and is alone in a strange, new world really well. I loved Amy's "spunkiness", her defiant attitude that kept her going.
Eldest was a very interesting character for many reasons (most of which I can't mention for fear of spoiling the book) and his steadfast belief that he is right and does what he does for the good of the people even if ethically or morally, it is wrong.
I also had a soft spot for Harley and for a secondary character, I thought he was fantastic. He reminded me a bit of Finnick from The Hunger Games. I loved his artistic sensibilities and the way he took to protecting Amy like a big brother.
Across the Universe is definitely a plot driven novel but I'm happy to report that the characters are also fleshed out well. I've realised recently that I need both to be truly satisfied with a story. Having said all that, I think one of the biggest selling points of Across the Universe is the world building. I'm astounded with just how believable everything is. I love the fact that accents have changed and new words have formed which is totally representative of a future society. Everyone looks the same to try and retain a sense of harmony and balance onboard the ship but everyone has a role to fulfil. One of the things I found most disturbing was "the season" which is very animalistic in nature and more about reproduction than loving relationships. I suppose in a way it's less complicated and an assurance that there will be a new generation but e[...] Again, horrifically fascinating.
There were a lot of themes running through the book and I particularly liked the idea of nature versus nurture. Unfortunately I can't say much about it as I don't want to give any spoilers away. The idea of what makes a good leader is brought into the mix and we get to see the differences between a tyrannical leader and the young idealist. I watch A LOT of movies as well as read books and I can usually guess the twists and turns but I did NOT see a lot of the revelations in this book.
I think one of the main messages in the book, or at least one that I got out of it was the idea that you are who you decide to be, regardless of upbringing, environment and any other outside factors. Yes, they can have an influence on you but at the end of the day, YOU CHOOSE to be who you are and I like that.
In conclusion, Across the Universe is an outstanding debut novel that will satisfy your need for a sci-fi adventure and romance that spans across space and time. Across the Universe was everything I thought it was going to be...and then some. I absolutely loved it and am adding it to my top reads of 2011. By the time this has been posted, I will have pre-ordered and hopefully received a finished copy of the book so I can read it and fall in love with it all over again. Please God someone buy the movie rights as that would ROCK MY WORLD!
Across the Universe is out of this frexing* world and I would urge you to give it a read. The as of yet untitled sequel is due out next year and I can't wait! My only request is for more kissing please!
* When you read the book, you'll understand the reference ;)
on 22 January 2011
The first chapter of this book really hooked me in. Beth Revis shows us how the heroine Amy has to choose between being cryogenically frozen alongside her parents or opting out. The scene is gripping and kept me wanting to turn the page. Actually, I read this book in one sitting. We know I'm never entirely without criticism but I'm also hardly ever without praise ... and there's much to celebrate in the writing of Beth Revis. It's by turns poetic and page-flickingly easy to read.
Meant to be frozen for three hundred years Amy is awoken when a rogue aboard the spaceship "Godspeed" starts to murder some of the helpless 'sleepers' in the cryo-cargo hold.
The world Amy awakes to is one in which the spaceship inhabitants are from what she knows as 'normal'. From hundred of years of living on the spaceship the crew has developed into a monoethnic group and here Amy's appearance is strange and unfamiliar to them. Is it just evolution on a spaceship that has made the descendants of the original crew act rather odd? And if it's evolution why do the people in the mental ward of the ship act in a way Amy sees as 'normal'?
Halfway through the novel I realised that this reminded me of Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World". There are several differences of course, but there is the shared central premise that leapt out at me. The spaceship setting lends everything a claustrophobic feel, which is emphasized Amy having been imprisoned in a cryo-freezer coffin for hundreds of years and by the suffocating secrets and dictatorship of Eldest.
There's a scene in the book where Amy is attacked which makes me say this is more YA Plus than a generla young adult novel. Upper than lower teens me thinks. The romance between Elder and Amy is a nice slow burner. As opposed to Amy falling in love at first sight and then pining after the boy whenever he's not about.
Elder is being trained to become the future leader of the people on his ship. However, Eldest isn't training him right. Elder knows there are secrets on the ship and he's not sure why he's being left out of the loop. Any day now Elder will have to take over from Eldest, but the old man seems reluctant to share knowledge with his sixteen year old successor. There's also the question of what happened to the other Elder...the one that should have come before our Elder...the one who should already have replaced Eldest.
There is meant to be a mystery as to the random attacks carried out on the people frozen in the cryo-cargo hold but it's fairly easy to put together. I think the suspense aspect of that and who the perpetrator might be were a little overdone. I figured it out ages before the revelation so it started to feel a bit old when the characters were still trying to put the pieces together. Amy and Elder are supposed to be smart so that jarred.
Nit-picking over I have to say I was impressed by the author's writing style. My favourite character would have to be liked Harvey, the artist in the mental health ward. Not sure his scene at the end moved me quite the way it could have ...er 'scuse me I believe I'm back to nit-picking.
As far as debut YA novel's go, I think Beth Revis has done very well. I'd definitely pick up a sequel. In fact I've just learned this is part one of a trilogy :)