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.
Title: Across the Universe
Author: Beth Revis
Category: Young Adult
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Dystopian
Publication Date: January 1, 2011
Length: 398 pages
Series or Standalone: Across the Universe series
Themes: Truth, Humanity
POV: Dual first person
Reviewer: Nick Morgan
I once heard this book described as “science fiction for people who don’t read science fiction, and that’s as good a description as any I could come up with. 17-year-old Amy is an Earth unfrozen fifty years too soon. Or so she thinks. The truth is much less interesting. YA Science Fiction hasn’t really tackled the generation ship premise much before this. But good old adult science fiction has, and Across the Universe adds essentially nothing to the story. Several of the major plot twists are telegraphed fifty to a hundred pages in advance. The real twist behind the story is a bit dull. The society of the ship is essentially Brave New World IN SPACE! and Amy is the wrench thrown in the gears of a previously self-contained society, run on the common trope of “different is bad”, in a fairly cliche way.
I have to give Revis credit for her writing ability and her characters. I read the whole book, and her portrayal of the relationships between the teenage characters is quite good. I’d totally buy these characters as teenagers, and Revis is capable of writing elegantly in either gender. Although the relationship between the two MCs is a bit creepy due to the power differential, it’s no different than many of the relationships around me when I was a teenager, or the ones I see in teenagers (and adults) now. I loved how pro-active and opinionated Amy was. She didn’t let any of the characters tell her what to do, even the theoretical love interest, Elder. Elder, though well-written, I didn’t care for. he seemed rebellious for the sake of being rebellious, and not in a “Oh, he’s just being a teenager” way. But beyond that, he did ring true as a teenage boy.
I found the plot a bit predictable, as I’ve said, and I question some of the science in the story. We don’t quite know the flight-plan for the ship in the story, but given the fairly well-known tropes of relativistic flight, I found the timing of the main plot problem a bit weird.
It may be fair to say that I’d like this book more if I wasn’t already so familiar with the tropes associated with generation ships and dystopias. I can’t unread what I’ve read and and give it another try. Maybe my opinion would be different.
I would say it’s fine to read the book if you’re looking for some YA SF, but borrow it from the library or buy used rather than paying for it new.
Conclusion: 64/100 (Competent, but not amazing)
Premise: 6/10 (Done before, and better, but not awful)
Plot: 5/10 (No major plot-holes, but very predictable and not that unique)
Setting: 6/10 (Reasonable, but not explored much)
Main Character: 8/10 (Calling Amy main, quite well written)
World-building 6/10 (Competent, but not inspired)
Love Interest: 7/10 (Didn’t care for him, but not awful)
Supporting Characters: 7/10 (Good, but not explored deeply)
Writing: 8/10 (No complaints, but not brilliant)
Themes: 6/10 (Ambitious, but not dealt with in much depth)
Resolution: 5/10 (Not great, but follows logically from the plot)
Cover: 8/10 (Like the ice and the stars, but the ice better)
Buy Or Borrow: Borrow or buy used