Thursday, May 5, 2011

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

I was really excited for this book to come out. I first found it on a book list on Goodreads for upcoming YA books. And before reading any reviews, seeing any blurbs, or anything, I added it to my To-Read list. I was two steps away from preordering it on Amazon.  It took me a while to get around to reading it because the book is pretty massive, and lately I have been favoring ebooks and paperbacks that I can stick in my purse and bring with me to read during my lunch break at work. It’s not super long; it’s 398 pages. It’s just largely shaped and a little heavy.
Any way, I was not disappointed. The book read like a mixture of Maria V. Snyder’s Inside Out and Catherine Fisher’s Incarceron. There were elements of a lot of standard YA dystopias here. Yet, the whole thing was refreshingly unique.
The book starts with Amy, the main character, leaving behind everything she knows –literally, everything. Her parents got themselves chosen to be cryogenically frozen for a 300 year space travel mission to a new planet. Apparently Earth has used up too many resources, and scientists have found another planet to send people that has oxygen, water and all things needed to survive. The thing is, it takes 300 years to travel to this new planet. So, specific people were chosen (for various abilities and specialties in things like science and military) to help start a new life on the new planet. Two of those important people are Amy’s parents, who insisted on bringing Amy as well. She leaves behind her friends, her family, her home, her boyfriend, and everything she knows to be frozen for 3 centuries.
This is one of those books that switches points of view between the main girl and the main guy character. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t. It works really well here. The guy is Elder, the future leader of the ship Amy and her parents are frozen on. Any way, it soon becomes clear someone is out to murder the frozen people on the ship, and several (including Amy) were taken out to become unfrozen and die. Elder manages to save Amy though. Too bad for her, she can’t be re-frozen, and it’s doubly bad that the ship is not supposed to land for another 50 years…
The book is part murder mystery, part romance, part science fiction, and part dystopia. The society on this ship is fascinating. All 2000 something people living on the ship, in their various communist style jobs, are all of the same race, ethnicity, skin color, eye color, and sameness; they all have olive skin, with dark hair and brown eyes. And they are taught that differences is what brought all the problems, wars, famines, crusades, apartheids, and anything bad on earth. Amy is pale-skinned with red hair. Many of the people walk around with weapons when she is near by. Others are out to get her for being different. And most try to pretend she doesn’t exist. And it’s really hard to find a murderer when you stand out so much, especially when the current evil dictator seems really bent on just getting rid of you.
Serious topics were addressed here about sex, race, and survival. And the risks and sacrifices people are willing to take to survive. Revis took a not-too impossible sci-fi idea and weaved it into a complicated, moving, believable story. I give this a 10/10.
If you want another perspective on this book, please check the entry on it in another great blog: 

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