Title: Across the Universe
Author: Beth Revis
Release Date: January 11, 2011
Pages: 398 (Hardcover)
It's been a while since I read science fiction that I really enjoyed. Yes, I said science fiction. Like the cover didn't give it away. ;) I've missed science fiction. When I was younger I'd watch Star Trek: TNG and Star Wars, then Andromeda and Farscape and Stargate. Our house was a sci-fi house. But in book form, I don't know, I don't think I found any I really grabbed hold of and enjoyed.
Enter 2011 and this YA novel by debut author Beth Revis.
The hype surrounding this book was huge, like the current hype for Lauren Oliver's Delirium or Lauren DeStefano's Wither, or last year with Ally Condie's Matched or Stephanie Perkins' Anna and the French Kiss. When hype is this big and positive, there's often a little cringe here and there and you wonder if the book really is that good.
Amy is frozen in some kind of deep space deep sleep capsule for her journey to a new Earth with her parents. She has a 300 year sleep coming her way, but for some reason, is woken 50 years early and nearly dies. Now awake and unable to be put back to sleep with her parents, she meets Elder, someone the same age as her, and the next leader for the people created to take care of the ship as it makes its 300 year journey. But questions arise, like who tried to kill Amy, and what other secrets are floating around the ship Godspeed.
The world building was amazing. Beth Revis has created such a dystopic and claustrophobic world on the spaceship. Certain people for certain jobs. Meek and submissive workers that don't question anything that seems out of place. Records erased and history altered. One man in charge, controlling everything, experimenting on the ship's crew and residents to create a stronger but more submissive worker. It's a creepy spaceship.
Amy's fear and confusion and 21st century ideals and morals are recognizable but totally alien to the people on the ship. While she speaks of individuality, of rights, of freedom, everyone else goes about their work, obeying the rules that Eldest has set out, the rules that have always existed. Unfortunately, Amy is the wrench thrown into the machine that is the Godspeed and its society, someone different, someone who objects and protests and questions the rules.
Elder is drawn to Amy, possibly because of the difference in their appearances, possibly because of her views on how Eldest is controlling everything when others deserve truth and freedom. Already vulnerable because of how Eldest keeps him in the dark about certain areas and aspects of the ship, Amy is proof that Eldest lies to him, that Elder isn't being taught everything he needs to know to one day be Eldest.
There's so much in this book. What is truth? What is real? What does it mean to be human? What do secrets hold? Who should be in power? Should people look and act and be different from others? Who are we? Who are we meant to be? Can we change? What does the future hold? Will humanity survive?
Across the Universe was chilling, claustrophobic and closed off while floating through the vast expanse that is outer space, controlling, but so compelling. It might scare away some readers who aren't fans of science fiction, but hopefully they can look past that and focus on the human element, the human story, the story of Amy and Elder.