Sometime in the late 21st century, Amy and her parents are cryogenically frozen. They will remain so as they take a 300 year long journey across the universe to another planet safe for human inhabitants. While they are asleep, hundreds of other people will be aboard the ship, Godspeed, making sure it reaches its destination. Fifty years ahead of schedule, Amy is "unplugged" and woken up, almost killed. No one is sure who unplugged her, but the leader of Godspeed, Eldest, is not happy with her, since difference is the #1 reason for discord. Amy is different. She looks different, she talks differently, and she is not one of them. Elder is fascinated by Amy, but he also needs to find out who is unplugging and killing the frozens, and why.
The ship itself, its inhabitants, its ruler, "Eldest", and its history are entirely fascinating. Beth Revis put a staggering amount of detail into the world of Godspeed, even to the English dialect that evolved over the course of 250+ years. Enter Amy, a girl that literally fell asleep in the 21st century and woke up on a spaceship 250 years in the future. When she realizes that she was awoken 50 years too soon, and will spend the rest of her days breathing recycled air, drinking recycled water, and will never feel the real sun on her face, that's a lot to process. Add a murderer to the story, as well as some moral-bending dilemmas and you have a page-turner in your hands.
The only thing I would change about this book is the first scene. I didn't find it at all believable. Fortunately, I trusted the opinions of many of the bloggers who reviewed this book before me, like The Story Siren, Write Meg, and Novel Novice.so I didn't have too hard of a time getting past it. Once I did, I tore through the pages.
The book is told from alternating perspectives - Amy's and Elder's. Elder is the second in command on the ship, Godspeed, and is fascinated by Amy, the only girl on the ship near his age. Even though the split narrative is not usually my favorite, especially in YA, it works here, as it ensures a level of mystery about its two main characters, while allowing readers to get a sense for who these people are and what they struggle with.
Love story? Sort of. I actually like that Beth didn't throw Amy and Elder into the deep end of this partnership. It remained believable - after all, Amy is trying to comprehend and adjust to this new world - and it also leaves room for growth for the next two installments. Love isn't really discussed on Godspeed as a concept at all, instead they have "The Season" for mating (ew.). Something tells me Beth will not allow this mating thing to go on in the next books without addressing Love.
A sign of any good book is when something about it leaves me thinking for several days afterward. Several scenes from the book had me thinking. The first was some of the immoral practices of Eldest, in order to keep order on his ship. I found myself strangely in agreement with his reasons. How would I feel if I were in charge of hundreds of lives on a ship with limited space and limited resources? There really is no jail or security, so how could I ensure the safety of everyone on board? Second, the issue of monoethnicity - if you only had a thousand people on a ship for 300 years, wouldn't monoethnicity happen naturally? How would that effect the new planet? Would individual races eventually evolve? The next thing that had me thinking was when Amy, Elder and Harley opened the trunks from the frozen passengers. Amy's family had to pack trunks to bring with them. I couldn't help but wonder, If I were traveling to another planet, what would I pack in my trunk? I'm happy to say, Amy's Dad packed lots of books!
It may have taken me a long time to finally get to ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis, but it was worth the wait! For anyone looking for a great sci-fi Young Adult series, start here!
Good news! A MILLION SUNS, book 2 in the Across the Universe trilogy, was released on January 10, 2012.
Beth Revis: website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads
Across the Universe Book: Web Page, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads
Breathless Reads Tour 2.0
About the Book:
Beth Revis lives in rural North Carolina with her husband and dog, and believes space is nowhere near the final frontier. Across the Universe is her first novel
*Disclosure: I purchased this book for my personal library.