Search This Blog

Thursday, November 4, 2010

'Across the Universe' by Beth REVIS

Received from the Publisher

Release date: January 11th 2011

From the BLURB:

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 the first in a YA sci-fi trilogy from debut author, Beth Revis. It is an epic intergalactic adventure set in a dystopian society and spiced with an impossible romance.

Planet earth is dying. Natural resources are depleting and mother-nature cannot sustain humanity for much longer. To try and save the human race a spaceship carrying 100 people with varying specialties in genetics, combat, vegetation etc are being sent to an uninhabited planet, Centauri-Earth. These people have the various resources needed to develop a new civilization on this faraway planet. . . a planet that it will take 300 years for the spaceship to reach.

When we first meet her, Amy and her parents are being cryogenically frozen in preparation for their 300-year-long journey. Amy is going as excess baggage – a 17-year-old accompanying her geneticist mother and military father on a mission to save the human race. Amy is leaving behind everything – her family, friends and earth as she knows it.

But something goes wrong.

Amy wakes up.
. . .
50 years early.

Amy awakens after 250 years on the ship ‘Godspeed’. Larger than the size of the island of Iwo Jima, the ship is populated by a monoethnic race of humans who maintain plant life, farming, animals and technology in preparation for the new planet. Sol-Earth is little more than a legend; ethnicity and religion are things of the past and fable. And Amy has been plucked out of her icy suspended coffin right into the middle of this strange place. . . and finds herself at the centre of a spaceship conspiracy.

Godspeed is ruled by Eldest – the oldest member, and therefore leader, on the good ship. Eldest’s heir is Elder – a 16 year-old-boy who is in training to run the ship when Eldest dies. And with Amy’s random awakening, Elder’s leadership abilities are put to the test for the first time...

Amy is not supposed to be awake. Somebody on Godspeed flipped her switch and woke her up 50 years early – almost killing her, and ensuring that she cannot be refrozen. . . and when she next meets her parents upon their awakening, she will be older than them.

Amy isn’t the only one. Of the 100 people cryogenically frozen, two more are awoken and die in their frozen coffins. Somebody is killing the cryogenically frozen and putting the Centauri-Earth mission in jeopardy – and in trying to discover the culprit, Amy and Elder uncover terrifying truths about Godspeed.

The scene setting of spaceship Godspeed is inspired and intricate. Everything, from the recycled air to the metal-tasting water is described in such finite detail that the book has a cinematic quality to it. But even as wonderful and grandiose as the Godspeed setting is some of Revis’s best writing happens in Amy’s claustrophobic cryogenic coffin. It is in here that readers are really put into Amy’s mind-set and experience her terror. And it is in that coffin that Amy first tests her mettle.

Beth Revis bases a lot of her plot around impossible moral situations. Between Amy having to choose to live the next 50 years ahead of her parents, for the sake of the new planet’s society and sustainability. To Elder having to decide whether or not to keep Godspeed’s secrets for the good of its passengers. . . Revis tasks her young adult characters with hard choices and raised stakes. And that’s one of the things I loved about ‘Across the Universe’ - the fact that Revis makes heroes of her young characters. She puts them in difficult positions and doesn’t back them down from hard tasks.

‘Across the Universe’ spans a galaxy of genres: epic sci-fi, romance and mystery. The mystery is especially wonderful for Revis’s old-school red-herrings and noir writing in this intergalactic whodunit.

The brilliance of the mystery is in the little hints Revis drops. She makes big statements and observations without dwelling on them – leaving little kernels of doubt for the reader to pick over;
At this, Eldest crosses the hall in three long strides and faces me. “This ship is built on secrets; it runs on secrets,” he says, tiny droplets of spittle flying from his mouth to my face. “And if you keep asking about them, you’ll see how far I’m willing to go to keep mine...”
The mystery element is heightened further by Revis’s writing the intricate Godspeed society. The people on Godspeed are warped human beings with strange habits and norms; and through Amy’s eyes readers gauge their level of unknowing weird and try to decipher their civilization;
“He doesn’t like ‘disturbances,’” I tell Amy. “He doesn’t like anyone to be different at all. Difference, he says, is the first cause of discord.”
“He sounds like a regular Hitler to me,” Amy mutters. I wonder what she means by that. Eldest has always taught me that Hitler was a wise, cultured leader for his people. Maybe that’s what she means: Eldest is a strong leader, like Hitler was.

The book has alternating narrators in Amy and Elder. They both provide wonderful insights into the new and old world, between the established order and a fresh set of eyes. And between them is a growing romance of beautiful, epic proportions.

Amy is completely alone in this new world, and Elder acts as a life-raft in her growing sea of loneliness. And in Amy, Elder discovers a departure from the norm, as he puts it;
Amy seems to inspire me to be all kinds of different.
The romance is in early stages in this first book – but no doubt it will be an evolving storyline of the trilogy. I can’t give anything away without major SPOILERS. . . but the romance has as many curve-balls and red-herrings as the whodunit mystery plot.

‘Across the Universe’ is a dystopian sci-fi romance extravaganza. It is epic and beautiful and I’m thrilled that it’s the first book in a trilogy. Beth Revis is hot new stuff on the Young Adult scene, and her book ‘Across the Universe’ cannot be missed in 2011!



  1. Great review! I just posted mine today and felt exactly the same way. I liked all the layers there were to the plot :)

  2. Isn't this review a bit early?

    Anyway, great review as always. I love the amount of effort you take to ensure there is depth in what you're saying. :) I'm really excited to read this one!

  3. ahh, this sounds amazing. and a cool teaser for the rest of up waiting it out :)

    I love the idea of her being older than her parents - kinda trippy and scary. I would never want to be older than my parents! haha.

    love everything about this. sounds different and comepltely absorbing.

    oh - and I'm your nano buddy. But you;'re completely kicking my butt. i got off to 3 false starts and now am starting afresh today on day four...


  4. awesome review!!! Im gonna write mine soon!! I LOVED this book =)))

  5. Nice review! Great to see SF for the YA audience. I'm trying a dystopian YA for NaNoWriMo this year. :)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

| More