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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
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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The tag on the cover hints that the book should be cataloged under 'thriller,' while the cover itself, a boy and a girl a breath away from kissing, suggests YA romance. In truth, this book is neither. The premise is solid: Amy is frozen with her parents for the maiden voyage of the Godspeed, a vast spaceship flying across space to reach a new planet, only glimpsed from afar. The earth is somehow doomed, so the Financial Resource Exchange (a conglomeration that governs the world in lieu of countries) is sending military and scientific personnel to the new world on a chance that it could be made livable and safe. While the elite colonists sleep, a 'crew' of 2500 settlers will be born, work, and die for 300 years as the ship sails through space. Amy, however, is mysteriously woken up 50 years ahead of schedule, nearly dying in the process. Everything has changed: the people are monoethnic, there is no free will, and difference has been eliminated. The people have given up all control to a governing system of an Eldest and an Elder, the two oldest people of their respective generations on the ship, and go about their lives in a mindless stupor, interrupted only by 'mating season,' the one time in a generation the people go into an animalistic sex craze to create the next generation. The only people who act 'normal' are the inmates of the mental ward, where Elder lives. But when Amy comes among them, the regular workings of Godspeed are thrown into disarray.
So far so good. Amy's sinister awakening is reminiscent of the creepier moments of Event Horizon or Sunshine. The ship itself, humanity's struggle to survive in isolation in a metal can careening through space, and the issues of tyranny and freedom in extreme circumstances smack of the better seasons of Battlestar Galactica. More people are unfrozen, murdered, by an unseen enemy. Amy is befriended by Elder, a young man being trained by Eldest to rule the ship, and his friend Harley, a 'mad' artist from the mental ward. Elder, already expressing dissent about Eldest's autocratic regime and the lengths to which he goes to manipulate the people into obedience, learns through Amy's difference and knowledge that much of what he thought he knew is a lie - Eldest has been manipulating him along with the people of the ship. Together the two of them work to overthrow Eldest and find out who is murdering the frozen colonists.
The murder plot quickly falls to the background and the main 'dystopian' plot kicks in. Eldest is evil, his regime is oppressive, and he is keeping the kids apart. Clearly, he must be stopped. Or so the book would have you believe. The author raises some very difficult issues: how does one effectively rule a society on whom the fate of humankind depends? Is it right to sacrifice the lives and happiness of the few to save the many? Is rigid control necessary for order? If humans must be so cruelly manipulated just to keep them from destroying each other, is humanity really worth saving? Is it better to live a pleasant lie or a bitter truth?
Unfortunately, most of these questions go unanswered, or are answered simplistically. Amy and Elder decide that Eldest's methods are too cruel, and he must be stopped. They then set about sabotaging the complex system of controls Eldest has imposed on the ship as the book races to its uneven conclusion.
Elder's desire to overthrow Eldest is sparked by his juvenile attraction to Amy. Amy is motivated by her idealistic belief in black and white "TRUTHS" and "LIES" and her longing for earth as it was before she left. When Eldest threatens to toss Amy out an airlock for being a potential disruption of the ship and is at another point likened to Hitler we are meant to hate him. He's a blocking character for the romance between the protagonists. He does cruel, controlling things. But the author gives far too little attention to *why* Eldest rules the way he does. When we get a major plot twist late in the novel, it will become clear to most adult readers why this oppressive regime was created and why it perhaps shouldn't be tampered with so recklessly. There are many highly complex and difficult issues of rebellion, authority,and control involved, all of which are bulldozed so that there can be a final showdown between 'good' and 'evil'.
What I found oddly inconsistent, however, were the last few chapters. After all of the heavy-handed rhetoric about 'truth' and 'lies' for the majority of the book, some characters express doubt about their actions, and we learn who the initial saboteur was. I wanted to learn more about what was now motivating the characters, why they had second thoughts, and where those thoughts might lead. The ending felt abrupt and forced. I had thought the book was a stand-alone, but now I wonder if the author has a sequel in the works to tie up the many loose ends. If she can engage with some of the deeper questions and moral issues she has raised in 'Across the Universe,' I think I would enjoy that book.
I really enjoyed this book. I really enjoyed the author's way of sneaking in sweet little ways of showing Elder's affection for Amy. I also really enjoyed Harley, the artistic character, he was so sweet and so artsy. There is so much in this story that I was like "WHAAAAAAAA?!?!?!?!" Like "The Season" and the way they just did away with the elderly people once they weren't of any use. I mean, it adds to the story and it gives the reader a clearer picture of how crazy the life on Godspeed is but I was just like "Ohhhh, Okay.." Also, when Harley jumped out the hatch/look out to the stars, I cried. I really didn't want him to leave like that but again, the author wrote it beautifully. I kind of suspected there was something up with Orion from the beginning but I didn't really see it exactly coming until the last few chapters. My favorite part is actually the end whenever everything is all messed up and Elder tells Amy the truth about her unfreezing and everything in her life sucks but she says she will always stay with him because out of all the lies and secrets on the ship, Elder chose to build his relationship with her upon trust and that to me is what makes this book so beautiful. I really enjoyed this beautiful book and I totally recommend it. I'm so glad I finally got a chance to read it.
Great job, Beth Revis!!! :)
It is very much a murder mystery sort of book with a twist. And there are a lot of twists in this book. I thought it was very creative and different from other books. The closest series I can think this book come close to is Inside Out.
The book starts out with Amy and her family getting cryogenically frozen and put in morgue like boxes on a spaceship that will be traveling 300 years to get to a new planet similar to Earth. But then Amy, for some reason, is awoken 50 years to early. She finds herself stuck on the spaceship with people very different than she is used to and one of them is a murderer.
The main characters are very different, and each one has their own personalities and traits. You really get to feel for the characters in the novel and they are not one dimensional at all. The dystopian is like one I haven't ever read before either, it is very new and refreshing.
The ending ends without a cliff hanger and a lot of loose ends at the beginning of the book are mostly tied up. There is a second book and a third coming out next year.