First, I gave the blog a mini makeover. I added some pages and organized my reviews a little better. And I’m feeling proud! Second, working in a bookstore (even only part time) has become kind of dangerous for me. I need to stop buying books, really. However, my life is a lot easier. I’m in the store the day things like A Million Suns come out. Can it get any better?
And third, this is my 88th post to this blog! Some serious celebrating will need to happen when I reach 100. And, with my 100th post, I will have my first contest/book giveaway. I haven’t gotten all the rules figured out yet, but I do know it will just be open to U.S blog followers. I’m fairly certain I cannot afford to ship internationally. And the contest will involve my favorite books of 2011! So, if you aren’t following this blog, now is a good time to start!
To the book! I absolutely loved Across the Universe by Beth Revis. And I was not disappointed with book 2! I always feel like I have to work a little bit harder to sell this one because of its obvious sci-fi elements. For some reason, people see sci-fi and think, “not me.” And I kind of get this. That was me before I discovered Orson Scott Card. People really need just one good sci-fi book like this one or Ender’s Game to realize that it is such a fun, awesome genre. And frankly, I don’t understand why there isn’t more YA sci-fi around.
The book begins right where book 1 left off. The points of view still shift back and forth between Amy and Elder. Elder is afraid of taking on all his new leadership duties now that Eldest is gone. He also knows there is a problem with the ship’s engines, and is worried about figuring out how to fix everything. And Amy is on a mission to discover clues left behind from Orion, the killer from book 1, who wanted to get rid of all the cryogenically frozen people on the ship (including Amy’s parents). He was punished at the end of the first book by being frozen himself to await trial for when everyone “wakes” up and realizes what he tried to do.
Not liking Orion at all, Amy realizes there is still a lot about the ship and the Eldest leadership that has been kept secret, and decides to follow his clues and drag Elder along with her. Both Amy and Elder work together to find out what all the secrets are. But, Amy does most of the sleuthing because Elder spends most of his time breaking up riots, starting police forces, learning about Newton’s laws of motion, solving murders, making sure everyone is getting equal food distribution, and fighting off rebellions. He gave his people back their choice (by getting rid of the drug that turned them into obedient, sufficient workers). And a lot of the book is about Elder dealing with that decision. And the secrets Amy uncovers are huge! The biggest one was not that big of a surprise for me because really there could be no other secret for Orion to keep alluding to that could be that big.
From engine failures, to food riots, to drug patches, to murder, to hidden staircases and locked doors, to weapons and bombs exploding, this book is loaded with action. And it still has all the romance from the first book (though it takes the back seat to the story and the action). There’s also all the wonderful culture reversals that got me addicted to book one. Amy is the only white person (with red hair) on a ship of people who have only ever known people to look just like them (brown skin and dark hair). For generations, there has been no one like Amy. And many of the people are afraid of her still.
Along with the serious themes of culture and race (and even religion or lack of religion) comes also the topic of rape. Amy was almost raped in the first book and is still greatly affected by what she survived. And a lot of this book is spent trying to keep away from the man who attacked her. That same man also raped a woman who becomes Amy’s friend. And one of my all time favorite scenes is when the two women work together to defend themselves and then actually even pay the guy back.
On top of all the action, mystery, and serious topics, comes the deep philosophical questions good dystopias make readers ask. Like, is one life worth 2000? Or is it more important for the ship to keep running or for people to have free choice? And who makes the best leader?
Elder does a lot of growing up in this book. And he really becomes such a strong character. I love the adventures Amy goes on, but I feel like she’s always risking too much and making stupid decisions, and that she hasn’t grown up that much at all. Though, I guess she had less growing to do than Elder did. I liked how the two of them worked as a couple (both in a romantic sense and in a decision-making sense). I thought the way the people reacted to gaining their free choice back was so fascinating. And everything about the rebellions, the questioning of the leader, and the murders, was just so good! I loved the ending (though I’m dying for the final installment that doesn’t come out till January 2013!)
The only thing that bugged me at all was the part of the ending that involved the rebel leader becoming friends with Elder. I felt like that was unrealistic and too much like Disney happy ending; it didn’t fit their characters at all. I get that they survived, witnessed, and went through a lot together in those ending scenes, but that wasn’t enough for me to believe that they could end on such good terms. I mean the two guys have been punching each other and starting riots that killed people over each other throughout the whole book. I don’t think that’s solved with one informative scene and a death.
But besides that one tie up that was just a little too convenient, I loved this book. I read it super fast (the day it came out). I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to the first book or maintain all of the serious themes the first book created, but it did! It brought more to the table, and it had me guessing the whole time. I highly recommend this one. It definitely gets a 10/10.