So it has been a while since either Todd or I finished a book and then shoved it in the other’s face to read it ASAP. I recently finished reading Across the Universe by Beth Revis; ran through our apartment and thrust it into Todd’s face. “You MUST read this. It’s science fiction which you love. It takes place in space – you love that. It’s a dystopian novel.” That’s all it took for Todd to pick the book up and read it. Here we are now, a few weeks later, both bursting at the seams to spill our guts about this novel/series.
Revis’ Across the Universe takes place centuries from now, on a ship known as “Godspeed” jettisoned from Earth in the hopes that its inhabitants will be able to land and successfully colonize Centauri-Earth, the closest inhabitable planet to our own. Now over 250 years after her launch, Godspeed is currently populated by roughly 3,000 inhabitants which are organized by their primary job on the ship. The ship is mainly comprised of “feeders” whose sole job is to provide for those on the ship, whether it be via food, textiles, or other consumables. “Shippers” are the next stage, whose responsibility is to keep the ship running and take care of its day-to-day activities. Finally, there is an Elder and Eldest. The Eldest is the ruler of the people of the ship, and his Elder is second in command. Eldest is grooming Elder to become the leader of the new generation of the ship, as he is old and will soon be unfit to rule. Half of the novel is told through the eyes of Elder, and deals with his mixed feelings of responsibility for those on the ship and hatred towards Eldest, who rules with an iron fist. The other half is told by Amy, a girl who is one of a hundred people who were cryogenically frozen at the beginning of Godspeed’s journey over 250 years ago. The plan was to reanimate them once the ship landed, and they were picked for their specific skills that would prove useful on the new planet. Amy is “nonessential cargo”, as she has no specific useful skill set but is the child of two important parents, and thus allowed to be frozen. Unfortunately, she is unfrozen by an unknown person over 50 years before the ship is scheduled to land. What will she think of this new race of humans on the ship? Will Elder be able to come to grips with his duty? What will he think of Amy?
Todd: As Kim alluded to before, I’m a huge sci-fi fan. Admittedly, I will like most novels in this genre regardless, but this particular one was a personal favorite. The social commentary was spot on, and the story was engaging and made me want to keep reading. Elder was an extremely likable character, and I felt as if I would have acted in the exact same way if I were put in his shoes. His interactions with Amy really change the way in which he acts and views himself as a leader. As the true face of Eldest comes to light, the entire tone changes. It was a really interesting turn of events that I didn’t see coming and was super surprising.
Kim: I definitely agree with Todd about the characters. Amy and Elder are now happily situated among my absolute favorite characters ever. They’re both so intriguing! Amy is such a strong female character, definitely one young adults can look up to and admire. She stands for what she believes in, never backing down for fear of anything. Elder, on the other hand, is so genuinely good. His heart is 1,000 times larger than himself and he is constantly standing up for those around him. Besides the amazing characters in this book is a major mystery that is filled with suspense, murder, and betrayal at every turn. There were so many twists and turns (all perfectly written) that I found myself unable to put the book down until I finished it. Revis does an amazing job at unfolding each piece of the puzzle in a perfectly timed and thought out manner.
Todd: Kim has a great point. One of the best characteristics of Revis’ writing is that it’s like an onion. She slowly peels back layer by layer, adding more complexities to the original mystery. By the time I reached the end of the novel, life on Godspeed was completely different than it was in the beginning. Amy and Elder’s character transformations were intriguing and were a great background to the greater story of the peril that those on Godspeed face. The completely different world that those on the ship live as opposed to the world that you and I know is a point of contention and friction between Amy and Elder, and it’s a great way to introduce the differences in morals as well between Elder’s and Amy’s generations. Additionally, there is still plenty of potential left for more action and suspense in the other two novels in the trilogy. The end of the book left a large cliffhanger that sets up an even bigger problem than the one faced in this novel.
Kim: I was thrilled to know that book two of the trilogy, A Million Suns, was published shortly before I finished Across the Universe. The plight of The Godspeed, Amy, and Elder totally roped me in and I could not wait to continue. With the amount of mysteries, lies, and deception that were present in book one I couldn’t even fathom what else could happen in the other two books! Revis is a skilled writer, one whose career you should follow if you’re not already.
Todd’s Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Kim’s Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
This is my tenth completed review for the Around The Stack In How Many Ways Challenge
Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Penguin Group (2011)
Paperback: 416 pages