Across The Universe by Beth Revis
Amy has left the life she loves for a world 300 years away Trapped in space and frozen in time, Amy is bound for a new planet. But fifty years before she’s due to arrive, she is violently woken, the victim of an attempted murder. Now Amy’s lost on board and nothing makes sense – she’s never felt so alone. Yet someone is waiting for her. He wants to protect her; and more if she’ll let him. But who can she trust amidst the secrets and lies? A killer is out there – and Amy has nowhere to hide . . .
‘Across The Universe’ is Beth Revis’ debut novel, and is due to be published on 3rd March 2011 by Puffin. I have had a proof copy of this on my shelf for some time now but always felt a little hesitant to read it as I was slightly dubious as to whether or not it would be good. Was I right to be dubious? Well actually… yes and no.
I quite like the science fiction aspect of this novel – it’s something a little bit different for kids to read these days instead of your run of the mill vampire romance or secret spy novel. For kids who love Doctor Who, Star Wars & Star Trek I am sure they will welcome something that is a little more ‘out there’. Revis’ descriptions of the process of being frozen at the very beginning of the novel, was definitely well written and did creep me out in some places. It’s amazing the things that would actually have to happen if we were to be frozen for a long period of time. I thought Revis did a fine job in portraying the feelings of Amy – the main character – it really makes you think about what it must be like to be frozen, about leaving your planet and all those you love for a place you know almost nothing about, being ‘asleep’ for 300 years and whether or not you would even survive the journey there. I found the beginning really exciting and gripping – I felt I was right there with Amy and her parents.
From the very beginning we meet the character Elder. Elder is due to be the future leader of Godspeed, the ship on which they are all travelling. He is created especially for this role as was Eldest – the current leader, and Elder’s tutor. Elder is a great character who slowly becomes aware that he doesn’t quite know everything he thought he did about Godspeed. There is almost a dark side to Elder at times (especially near the end). He knows he is going to be leader of the ship but doesn’t quite think he is up for the task yet. However, this does not stop him trying. He is determined to find out exactly what is going on behind closed doors and what Eldest is really up to. The chapters in the novel switch between Amy and Elder’s perspective which I really enjoyed – it made the story gripping and fast-paced and it gives you an insight into more than just one character’s mind.
Obviously we know that Amy is woken up in mysterious circumstances a considerable amount of time before the ship is due to land – before her parents will ever wake up. I loved the idea of Amy being older than her parents when they eventually wake up – the fact that her parents will have no idea about any of this until the three hundred years have passed. I thought this was a great touch to the story and I look forward to seeing how Revis will explore these events in the next two books of the series, as this is the beginning of a trilogy. This first book revolves around a mysterious person who keeps unfreezing the people onboard the ship and leaving them to die. I think this could have been done better – I figured out who the person was pretty early on and it’s always quite boring as you watch the characters just trying to figure it out over and over again. Maybe Revis left too many clues and hints throughout the book but it just needed a bit more suspense and a bit more of a shock-factor.
I liked the fact that the relationship between Amy and Elder grows very slowly throughout the novel and even at the end it is not quite where you expected it to be. I read so many young adult novels that deal with a romance between two characters and the ending is always very predictable. Across The Universe isn’t and that’s where it excels above other teen romance novels.
Where this novel falls short, in my opinion is the descriptions of the ship at times. There are a lot of passages concerning hills, farms and gardens being a part of the ship but I could never really get my head around this idea and what it would look like. I got a sense that the ship was obviously huge but could never quite grasp just how big it was meant to be. I had a good sense of all of the characters, but for me it was the setting that let the story down at times.
Final Verdict: Not the greatest young adult novel I’ve ever read but a refreshing change in the current market. A great attempt for a debut sci-fi novel with a touch of romance. Slightly lacking in suspense & in need of more detailed descriptions but it excels in the inclusion of some original elements in the plot. A fun, exciting read that will more than likely make you want to read the next in the series!