I was finally able to read this book and since some of you asked for my thoughts, here you go: My very first book review!
Title/Author: Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Date Published: January 11, 2011
Genre: YA science fiction/fantasy
Here's the synopsis as taken from Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.
Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone - one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship - tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.
Now, Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.
Okay, so let's get to business.
I have purchased books before simply on the cover design and this book gave me the same feeling. I find the cover art simply stunning. I've been trying to figure out if it's the space image, the colors used, or the two faces that make this cover really sing and I'm not sure. Maybe it's because the purple and pink colors of the cosmos remind me of my Mac's desktop picture or maybe it's because I just love space. Also, the two faces remind me a bit of Swati Avasthi's Split, another cover I really enjoyed.
2. The science
As suggested by the synopsis above, one of the main characters is placed in a cryogenic state. The book begins at this point, introducing the reader to the experience. Revis shows us Amy's mother going through the process first, followed by her father. These chapters were beautifully written and I felt they did a great job of conveying both fear and bravery.
I thought the author did a wonderful job of bringing in enough futuristic science to make the plot line plausible, but without overwhelming the readers. We learn of more advanced technology further in the story such as an inner ear communications system and a floppy-disk meets tablet meets flimsy screen kind of concoction. I'm not doing it justice, but some characters had access to a futuristic tablet which also seemed to fit nicely with the advanced technology on the ship.
Other technologies such as the screens in the Recorder Hall and the water system were also very nicely established. One of the beautiful things about this book was understanding how some of these inventions aren't that far out of our reach, for better or for worse.
I will be very honest--at first, I didn't like the two main characters told from a first person present perspective. One character in a FPP perspective is tricky for me, but two felt too confusing at first.
When I was in a reading groove, the POVs didn't bother me. And when I finished the book, it dawned on me that this was actually a very smart decision. Revis gives her readers two characters stuck on a ship in the middle of space and does a great job of carrying the feeling of claustrophobia all the way through the book. So when I finished, I realized the POV only enhanced that panic feeling. For the reader, there really is no place to escape. You're stuck on the ship with Elder and Amy. There's no hope for freedom for anyone.
4. Understanding Godspeed
So, speaking of the ship, Godspeed is pretty amazing, but I struggled to understand the size. How was it big enough to hold approx 2,000 people AND have farming lands? Since I'm a more visual learner, I couldn't create a mental layout of the ship. It wasn't until I finished the book and was looking around on the author's website that I found a ship schematic. Duh! Why didn't I think to go to the book's page, first? I will absolutely head back to the layout (you can find it all here!) when the next book, A Million Suns comes out.
5. Few minor hiccups
I stopped to re-read only two passages for clarification. One minor example was that at one point, a character is able to bypass a locking system to enter a hatch. I thought it was strange he could do this on a ship so tightly controlled by thumbprint access, but it wasn't a big enough deal to really worry about it. I was too busy reading and flipping to the next page, eager to figure out what happened and frankly, I'd rather be excited about the next page then worry about a locking system.
6. Final thoughts
Beth Revis has done a very nice job of managing her brand. Her website and book site blend seamlessly together and they dovetail directly into the artistic themes of her books. Furthermore, the author actively interacts with her readers through her Tumblr and Twitter feeds, which makes her feel "real" (as opposed to the Mythical Magical Author I see her as in my head!).
I also really liked how the author tied up some loose ends, but left the readers with more questions. It was a nice "cliffhanger" that made me think of future ramifications on the ship based on Elder's decisions. The only downside is that I have to wait a few more weeks to read the next installment as A Million Suns isn't released until January 10, 2012.