Saturday, May 12, 2012

Book Review: Across the Universe

by Beth Revis

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.

Why I read it: Why wouldn’t I read this book? It’s got a space ship, a dystopian atmosphere, a murder mystery… This is totally the sort of book I love.

What I liked: There’s so much I liked about this story, so I’ll just list a couple of the main things. First of all, the plot. The ideas are all fascinating, and Revis weaves them together into a story that fits perfectly at the end. I loved all the twists and turns. It felt like a murder mystery in that way, with a list of suspects that you can never quite trust. You never knew who to believe. There were a couple fantastic twists at the end that I didn’t see coming.

Also, Revis’s writing is quite good. The first chapter, where Amy and her parents are frozen for the trip, literally had me squirming, it was that intense. Her writing never comes across as overdone, yet it gave me a vivid picture of the ship and everyone on it. The characterization was well done and the alternating viewpoints between Amy and Elder worked better than I expected. There was only once or twice where I couldn’t immediately tell who it was (without looking at the chapter heading.)

What I disliked: The beginning was a little slow. While the first chapter was super intense, the next fifty pages were basically Amy sitting in her frozen chamber and Elder getting annoyed because Eldest wouldn’t tell him anything. While the pace picks up after Amy’s unfrozen, even then it takes a little while to get going. In fact, it wasn’t until the last hundred pages that this book became a real page-turner.

Though I really liked the ending and it all made sense, there were a couple little things that didn’t seem realistic. Maybe it was the fact that I was reading it at midnight, but still… It would have been nicer if there were a few more clues scattered throughout the book. And then there was one minor plot point introduced in the very first chapter that seemed vitally important, and yet it never surfaced again. Perhaps the author plans to bring it in to a later book, but if not it just seems like false set-up.

From a Christian Perspective: This book ranks a lot lower than I thought it was going to. While the swearing is all using the made-up word ‘Frex’ there’s a fair amount of sexual content. The first time Elder seems Amy, she’s naked and he can’t help fantasizing about her breasts. It’s mentioned several times that Amy had sex with a boyfriend back on earth. At one point Amy is nearly gang-raped. Also, the book takes place during ‘The Season’ on the ship, meaning that everyone is busy having sex in public. Though this disgusts Amy (who wears a cross necklace and claims to be Christian) I still felt it was a little unnecessary.

To buy or not to buy: I’m not sure if I’ll buy this book. I did quite enjoy it, but I’m not sure if I’d read it again. I think there is a sequel, though, which I’ll most certainly be reading. 


  1. I've been contemplating reading this one. I think most of it is I want to know how it ends, but if it's a slow start, I might skip it.

    Great review. I found it really helpful.

  2. I agree that the first chapter was powerful, it had me squirming in discomfort too! But overall I can't agree more that the way Revis weaves this narrative is fantastic, and I have it a 10/10 when I reviewed it here.

    As a side note I have just discovered your blog and it is gorgeous. You can count me as a new follower :)

    Love Rie x