Date Started: 5/27/19
Date Finished: 5/31/19
Publication Date: 1/11/11
Genre: YA Scifi
POV: Dual 1st Person POVs
Across the Universe is told from the point of view of two characters, Amy and Elder. Amy is a girl from Earth who chooses to be cryogenically frozen on a generation space ship for 300 years with her parents. Elder is the future leader of the ship, which is about 50 years from landing. At one point, Amy is mysteriously awakened from her sleep and nearly dies. She can’t be refrozen, so she’s forced to live among the inhabitants of the ship, who are very much unlike her. As she tries to adapt to her new reality, other people who were also cryogenically frozen start getting unplugged and dying, so she and Elder have to figure out who the killer is, while also navigating the many secrets of the ship.
I’ll start off by saying that this review will be tinged with nostalgia. I first read this book when I was in 7th grade and it was an instant 5-star read for me. Now, around 8 years later, is it still a 5 star read for me? Unfortunately, it isn’t. While I still love this book and always will, there were some issues with it that I can’t overlook, especially having read Beth Revis’s newer books, like Give the Dark My Love.
I’ll start out with the things that I still like about it. The opening chapter of Amy and her parents getting frozen was still just as gripping as I remembered it. It’s vivid and emotional and is a great way to start this story. I loved that despite the cover of this book, there’s not really much romance at all in it. (Maybe just one kiss?) This was important to me because Amy has been completely uprooted from the life she knew and forced into one where she and her parents are in constant danger. Of course she doesn’t have time for romance! I’m glad that Beth Revis made this more of a scifi-mystery, rather than a scifi-romance. Also, let’s talk about the fact that this is a scifi book! She does a great job of incorporating scifi elements (the freezing process, genetic modification, the ship itself) into the story without it becoming too hard-scifi. It’s still understandable for the average reader.
I also still loved the many twists and turns that were in this story, and while I won’t spoil them for you, I’ll just say that some of them felt a bit weaker this time around, and not just because this was a reread. Certain things just felt a bit… strongly hinted at. There was a strong emphasis on lies and not knowing who to trust, and at times certain character’s remarks and things felt a bit heavy handed. If you follow the clues and hints enough, you can figure out most of the story before things get revealed.
Another issue that I had was the characters. A lot of them didn’t feel too complex, even though they all had the potential to be. I really wish we had gotten to know Amy and Elder more, which is strange because they’re our POV characters! While this is only the first book in the trilogy, I feel like after reading this I only know some basic facts and backstory about each character, when we could have gotten so much more.
My last issue is with the pacing. A lot happens in the novel, especially toward the end when Amy and Elder start figuring things out. The final climax of the novel was also… a lot. In both a good and bad way. A lot of things that were hinted at before are revealed all at once, which I think could have been handled better.
In the end, I’m dropping my rating to 4/5 stars. I still consider this to be one of my favorites, but having read her later books, I can definitely see how this one is lacking. Beth Revis’s debut novel has its flaws, but also still shines in its imaginative worldbuilding and plot. In my memory, the second book was better (I’ll be rereading that one asap) so I think this was just a case of her writing getting better with time, but we’ll see when I review that one.
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