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Across the Universe Paperback – November 29, 2011
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, January 2011: As the spaceship Godspeed travels toward a new earth, the lives of 100 cryogenically frozen settlers hang in the balance after someone endeavors to quietly murder them. The other passengers aboard the ship have never known life outside its walls and are enslaved by the machinations of Eldest, their tyrannical leader, who divides them into three distinct classes. When Amy, a frozen settler from earth, survives being thawed in a murder attempt, she immediately bonds with Elder, Godspeed's lone teen and future leader. Amy’s individuality, her rebellion, and her fierce desire for freedom, inspire Elder to act on his own doubts and defy Eldest--his mentor and keeper--with shocking results. Eldest’s methods of twisting history and altering the lives of this captive community are a frightening echo of tyrants in our own history, and Across the Universe challenges readers to consider the impact of unchecked power, blind trust, and the ability of one dissenting voice to make a difference.-- Seira Wilson
Preview the Spacecraft in Across the Universe
(Click on Images to Enlarge)
In Across the Universe, Godspeed is a vast spaceship, the size of a small county. The lives of its passengers are severely regulated. And people are divided into three categories--Feeders, Shippers, and Keepers--represented by the three levels of the ship.
From School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up-Imagine leaving everything behind in order to be with the people you love, only to be left with nothing. Amy and her parents have been cryogenically frozen to be awakened in 300 years when their spaceship reaches the planet they will colonize. Unfortunately, Amy is unfrozen 50 years too soon. Her parents are too critical to the colony to awaken early, so by the time she sees them again, she will be older than they are. The culture on the spaceship is unfamiliar and everyone Amy meets is either an emotionless drone or lives in the mental ward. But there is little time for her to grieve the loss of her former life, because someone is thawing other colonists and leaving them to die. In order to find the murderer, Amy must join forces with Elder, the teenage future leader of the ship. But all of the inhabitants onboard have been told lies, and there are secrets that even Elder doesn't know. This compelling novel is told in alternating chapters from Amy's and Elder's points of view. Amy is a contemporary character in a fish-out-of-water situation, and her grief and fear are realistically depicted. And as Elder learns the truth behind the ship, he begins to experience a coming-of-age that is convincingly written. The mystery will propel readers along, and the budding romance between Amy and Elder set against the backdrop of a dystopian society will appeal even to readers who don't enjoy science fiction. Revis's thrilling debut novel hints at more great books to come.-Heather M. Campbell, formerly at Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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This book series is INCREDIBLY well thought-out. The writing is flawless and Revis transitions between the two characters flawlessly. I don't normally like first person stories, but I truly felt as if I was a part of the characters. One of the most important aspect of any book to me in realism. Even though this series is set on a spaceship and is completely sci-fi, the book felt SO believable. My favorite part was how the characters reacted and responded to situations. It was very relatable and I was never left wondering, "Why would they do/think that?". No part of the character development felt forced or rushed. If anything, the first book is a LITTLE slow. Once you hit the end, though, it was so worth it. I now love reading the first book to pick up on stuff I'd missed before. Another amazing part of this series is that it isn't cut-and-dry like other YA novels are. There isn't just one problem and one solution. It's a spider-web of issues within each book and you learn about them through the characters. I also love that, while romance is a part of the book, it is NOT rushed or forced, and it is not the main aspect of the story. It certainly plays a part, and is a driving plot line sometimes, but in a very relatable way. I never felt that it was over-the-top. I'm very much a non-romantic and even I felt that it was well thought out.
I was 16 when I first read this book and now at 23 I still love it. It is easily my favorite book series and I NEVER tire of rereading it. I recommend it to everyone who will stand still long enough. I truly think it is a story for those of any ages, although some elements are probably best for teens and older.
Centuries later, Elder, the teenage heir to Eldest, the all-powerful leader controlling every aspect of life aboard Godspeed, from the workers' reproductive lives to their very purpose aboard ship, discovers a secret -- the existence of the cyro chambers and their frozen cargo. Elder is the leader who was never meant to be, the replacement heir, and as such is one who insists on testing the boundaries of the controlling Eldest's authority. When cyro chamber #42 -- Amy's -- is unplugged, nearly killing her, Elder is fascinated by this girl from another time and place, a relic of old Earth, whose flame-red hair denotes an individuality that threatens the centuries-old way of subservient, unquestioning obedience that characterizes life aboard Godspeed. As a relationship blossoms between Elder and Amy, the two teens find themselves locked in a struggle for survival against an unseen and deadly enemy -- one who seeks to quell any hint of individuality and rebellion. But the power of questions, the power of free will proves to be an irresistible lure, and Elder and Amy find themselves at the center of an unlikely battle for the very soul of Godspeed and her passengers, with the future of mankind hanging in the balance.
Last month I was able to attend a booksigning where Beth Revis spoke about her writing process and inspiration for Across the Universe -- in short, a murder mystery in space. I've always had a weakness for space operas -- epic, fast-paced, other-worldly adventures -- stories of that ilk have an ability to captivate the imagination like no other. And on that score, Across the Universe delivers in spades. This is a thick, meaty novel, consisting of alternating chapters between Elder and Amy's points-of-view. With many of the chapters consisting of a single page, Revis establishes a rapid-fire sense of pace and tension that manages to sustain itself throughout the novel's 400 page-length. With its claustrophobic, contained setting wherein those who question authority have no hope of outside recourse and support but their own wits and determination, the resulting product is a thoroughly engaging novel that kept me entertained from the start.
That said, for all Revis focused on only two points of view they remain, in the end, frustratingly out of focus, a touch flat. Given the "hive" mentality Elder grew up surrounded by, that reticence towards vibrant self-expression is somewhat understandable. But as Elder is positioned as the lead -- and a romantic one at that -- I hope in subsequent volumes he develops into a more fully-realized character, dare one say it? -- more of an alpha, a leader of men with a touch of charisma worthy of the title, but the humanity and empathy necessary for a believable connection with Amy. Revis needs to work on penning a more authentic male voice, as Elder's is a tad effeminate which makes the burgeoning romance between him and Amy fizzle rather than spark. Amy is an engaging, more realized character, and while she spends a fair amount of page time bemoaning her fate (understandably), I'm looking forward to seeing how she navigates this brave new world she's been unceremoniously thrust into.
For all it can be argued that Revis's debut lacks subtlety, her writing possesses an infectious and promising energy that leaves me with high hopes for the second and third volumes in the trilogy. Now that the "murder mystery" aspect of the storyline has been resolved (or more accurately, devolved into a non-issue), and the secrets of Godspeed revealed, I look forward to seeing Elder and Amy navigate the fallout from the revelations of the latter. With more nuanced character development and forward-moving plot momentum, Revis is poised to deliver a thoroughly entertaining space opera. Across the Universe marries a dystopian vision of the future with the heart of a thriller and a dash of romance, touching on issues of freewill vs. predestination and individuality vs. conformity. A rollicking adventure from start to finish, Revis's debut marks her as an author to watch.