Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Across the Universe, by Beth Revis

by Beth Revis
Borrowed from Library
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.
Note to publishers: if you are going to put a whole lot of hype into a book pre-publication, you need to make sure the book will live up to said hype.

"Across the Universe" was widely anticipated after the release last year of what was called by some "the best first chapter ever." In it, Amy watches her parents being cryogenically frozen so they can participate in a space mission, then has to struggle with the decision to join them or remain with her boyfriend on earth. She chooses to go with them, but as she is being frozen, overhears some comments that tell us all is not as it appears with this trip.

We were just as intrigued by this beginning as everyone else, immediately made an order card and waited anxiously to get our flippers on a copy.

Hrm. Nothing quite like book let-down. It's not TERRIBLE, it's just...not that good. We are going to mention a few of our issues with it, but we can't do it without spoilers - so if you want to form your own opinion first, stop here. If you have read it and disagree with us, feel free to call us morons in the comments:)

1. World building. Pretty important for a dystopian novel, and we just didn't feel it. Too many things we were supposed to just accept, which would only work if we were drinking the same water. (That will make sense if you have read the book.)

2. Characters. Okay, we can forgive a vague background if the characters are real and compelling. Oops. Let's take Elder, for example. He was bred and raised to be the future leader of the entire ship, but he's a dunce. Totally clueless in so many ways. Then a pretty red-head comes along and he suddenly sees all sorts of incongruities and begins questioning the way his entire society is set up, when he never had before? Sorry, not buying it. Eldest is supposed to be a control freak, yet completely ignores things that are taking away his control. Also pretty slow, in that he couldn't figure out who the bad guy was until the end.

3. Suspense. It's a mystery, right? So can we at least enjoy puzzling through the clues? Alas, no. We knew who the bad guy was the second we met him (and not just that he was a bad guy, but WHO he was). The water issue was obvious. Everything Elder discovered that shocked him was hinted at so much beforehand, it just made him look even more obtuse. (Are you sure you are taking those inhibitors, Elder?)

Final kiss of death, our teen - who loved the cover and couldn't wait to get it next - didn't finish it. She NEVER not-finishes a book! We can't even recommend this to younger sci-fi fans who may not be savvy enough yet to pick up on the clues, because some of the scenes are definitely not going to be appropriate for the younger audience. A shame, because the premise was great, and the beginning intrigued. With a little lot more editing, this could have been the masterpiece it promised to be. For that reason, we will be watching for Revis's name in the future, in hopes that better things are to come.

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