Title: Across the Universe
Author: Beth Revis
Published: January 11th 2011
Length: 398 pages (Hardcover)
Series: Across the Universe #1
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
First of all, this book is likely one of the more disturbing ones I have had the pleasure to read. The whole society on the ship was super weird and the whole mating-season creeped me out a lot (yes, they had a period every 20 years, when people basically “mated” on the streets).
BUT, whilst the whole world on board of the ship was wrong and twisted, it was also very interesting. The way the leader was chosen and the ways they dealed with disturbance may be completely wrong and violates a ton of basic human rights, but I can understand how and why they came up with the system.
Let me explain a little without spoiling it. The ship is ruled autocratically by someone called Eldest. The Eldest is chosen at birth and first he goes under the name Elder. The Elder don’t have premission to know who his parents are, and is instead raised and taught by the Eldest.
Since they have mating-seasons, there are only three different age groups on the ship. When Across the Universe occurs, everybody is either 20, 40 or a “gray”(the older generation), except for Elder and Eldest. The point is that every Eldest will rule over their own generation.
On the ship, everybody is monoethnic (they have the same colour of skin, eyes, hair etc.) and there are no religions. They believe difference is the cause of discord, and therefore every difference must be eliminated.
“He sounds like a regular Hitler to me,” Amy mutters. I wonder what she means by that. Eldest has always taught me that Hitler was a wise, cultured leader for his people. Maybe that’s what she means: Eldest is a strong leader, like Hitler was. The turn of phrase is unusal, another difference I’m sure Eldest would hate.”
Yeeeaah….that pretty much explains how twisted their world is.
There are also a kind of caste system. Every child basically have to work with the same thing their parents worked with until they die.
“Each family, gen after gen, born and raised to work until death in the same block of the same city on the ship”
Okay, I won’t go further into that, it’s for you to discover the rest of the secrets and ways of the ship yourself.
So, I kind of liked the world, even though it disturbed me, but what did I think about the characters?
The story is told from the PoVs of Elder, the leader in training, and Amy, a girl who thawed a couple of years to early.
Let’s start with Elder.
I honestly don’t know if I like him or not. At first, I felt like he was, excuse me, a bit stupid. Then he kind of grew in my eyes throughout the story…until some things were revealed in the end, which made me dislike him again.
The hard thing about establishing my opinion of him, is that I kind of understand why he acts certain ways. I mean, He has practically been brainwashed all his life, and it’s difficult to change your beliefs.
Elder has a lot of weight on his shoulders, which he has been forced to carry since he was born. Eldest wants and expects him to be a certain kind of leader, and puts a lot of preasure on him.
“You can never show weakness in front of them: you are their strength. You can never let them see you in despair: you are their hope. You must always be everything to everyone on board.”
Kind of a lot for a 16-year-old to think about.
I also feel sympathy for Elder. He is between two worlds, both extremely out of reach. He will never see Earth, and may never arrive at the new planet. Who knows? There is a great chance he will never leave the ship.
“I am looking into the face of another world, one as unreachable to me as Centauri-Earth.”
Elder is a very confused character. He doesn’t know what to believe, what is true and what is not. He sometimes hates Eldest…
“He strides down the streets of the City now, like he owns them, because he does.”
…and sometimes he is grateful to him.
“I don’t always agree with Eldest, and his temper, shown only to me on the Keeper Level, can be terrifying, but I will always love him for taking me from the mind-numbing farms.”.
When I think about it, I would probably say I like Amy more than Elder, but both were kind of whiny at times.
The first couple of chapters, Amy is still in her cryo-sleep. Being frozen was not like she excpected it to be, and instead of being completely asleep, she is kind of conscious.
“And I want to scream. I want to throw open my eyes and wake up and not be alone with myself anymore, but I can’t. I can’t.”
Pretty terrifying being aware for about 200 years, unable to move.
When awake, Amy has to deal with a lot of difficult things at Godspeed (the ship). She’s alone since her parents are still frozen, she has woken up in a completely new and scary world, and her difference creates the kind of disturbance Eldest hates more than anything. Tough luck.
Even though she is faced with all of this, she is kind of good at dealing with it (except for some moments of whining). She keeps herself pretty much together.
Now, the thing is, the cover of Across the Universe is stunning. It’s really, really pretty, but also kind of misleading. The cover tells the reader that it’s a book about romance, about two people falling in love. If that’s what you want from the story, I think you will be disappointed. The plot is much more about mystery and finding out the thruth of the ship.
Still, I found a tiny bit of insta-love that I do not approve of. Elder sees Amy one second and gets obsessed. Amy meets Elder for a couple of minutes and when he leaves, she already misses him.
This is one of my greatest pet-peeves and I wish YA-authors would stop doing it.
There is much more to say about the characters and the plot, but I don’t want to spoil too much. So, if I were to sum up my thoughts about this book…
- The plot and world was interesting, but the characters weren’t the greatest.
- The mystery was good and some plot-twists surprised me, but others were obvious early on in the story.
- The beginning wasn’t the best, which meant I had to force myself to keep reading, but after a while, I was kind of hooked.
- They use their own words and expressions for some things (kind of like in the Maze Runner), which is both good and bad. Good because it’s realistic that they create their own words after a couple of centuries, and bad because some of them is hard to understand at first.
I wanted this book to be so much more, but I still think I will read the sequels. Hopefully I will be able to decide wether I like Elder and Amy or not ;).
“What? What happened? Is something wrong?” Everything is wrong. “Nothing is wrong,” I say.”
“So, I do what any reasonable person would do when faced with a crying girl. I get the frex out of there.”
And that’s when I realize the most important truth of life on this ship. There is nowhere to run.”
“A leader isn’t someone who forces others to make him stronger; a leader is someone willing to give his strength to others so that they may have the strength to stand on their own.”