I’ve been hearing about Beth Revis’ Across the Universe for months. No ARC came my way, so I ran out last weekend and bought a copy with a Barnes and Noble gift card I got for Christmas. Before I started reading, I posted the book trailer on our class Edmod0 (something new I have been trying) and immediately had a waiting list of students. I knew I had to read it before school or risk not getting my hands on it again for a few weeks. I sat down and read it. And read it. And read it. All in one sitting. Across the Universe delivers everything it promises and more. A genre-bending book, it combines science fiction, dystopian, romance, mystery, and action/adventure, blending it all into one fantastic story.
Seventeen-year old Amy has been cryogenically frozen, alongside her VIP parents, on the Godspeed. She will awaken 300 years in the future, on a new planet. But when she is awakened 50 years earlier than expected, she knows that nothing is the way it was supposed to be. The spaceship has become a world unto itself, with new laws, norms, and expectations. And when Amy realizes that someone unfroze her on purpose and has been trying to kill others in the cargo area, she begins to investigate. Fearing that her parents will be murdered before she can find the person responsible, Amy risks her own life by standing up to the leaders of the Godspeed.
The story is told in alternating chapters by Amy and Elder, the next-in-line to lead the people of the Godspeed. The ship is massive- it contains a city built for thousands, pastures, farms, labs, and more secrets than anyone has imagined possible. Elder has never breathed fresh air, never seen the sun, the moon, or the stars. He has no parents and is being raised/trained by Eldest, the current leader of the ship. When he meets Amy, the only person his own age on the ship, his feelings start to confuse him. Why does Eldest seem to hate Amy? Why doesn’t Eldest trust him?
Amy and Elder band together to protect her parents and figure out who is trying to murder the cryos. In the process, they come to find out that that the “truth” that Eldest shares with the people of the Godspeed maybe isn’t so true after all.
This is a science fiction tale for sci-fi lovers and for those who are hesitant to read sci-fi. The story contains just enough information about ship, and the science behind it, to satisfy the pickiest sci-fi fan. Yet the information isn’t overwhelming for those who tend to shy away from sci-fi. It’s truly a genre-bender. The mystery will keep you on the edge of your seat and the science will cause you to question where humanity is headed. Amy and Elder are both realistic characters that are easy to emphasize with, despite the almost 300 years between them. The story builds slowy and by the midway point it’s like riding a roller coaster- your emotions are constantly twisting and turning, allegiances are changing, and the story becomes unpredictable. While there is a budding romance between the two, it takes a backseat to the action of the story and should not scare off any anti-romance readers.
Revis raises some intriguing questions. How does a person effectively rule a group of people on whom the fate of humanity depends? When their survival will ensure the survival of mankind, do the rules change? Is it right to sacrifice the life of the few to save the many? Should the truth always be shared with society at large, or should the rulers decide what is best? When we learn that the people on Godspeed have been taught that Hitler was an effective ruler, one to be emulated, what does that tell us about mankind’s future?
I loved loved loved this book. I can not recommend it enough. I’m impatiently awaiting the next book in the series and you will be, too! Highly recommended for teen readers.
*Definitely a teen read. There are mentions of sex and an assault scene. Nothing overly-graphic, but not for middle school readers.