Sunday, 29 May 2011

Across The Universe: #1 Across The Universe

I’m always partial to books with attractive covers……As such attractive covers help to attract public. Thus I came across this new and wonderfully scientific novel or should I say the debut sci-fi dystopic Across The Universe by Beth RevisAnd it was an awesome change to read such a well written futuristic dystopian novel. Mind you this is only the beginning. Two more books are left in this trilogy.
Here is how the summary goes like:
A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder. 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.

Across The Universe is such a fantastic read, and one I became so fascinated with, that I read it in one sitting. Beth Revis has done an excellent job at writing a story that has left me wondering, “What if.” She weaves together an awesome murder-mystery, sci-fi, dystopian thriller with a bit of romance and all confined within the walls of Godspeed. 
Godspeed. Well Godspeed is massive. So massive, it’s a feat of the mind to imagine the whole thing, complete with pastures of grazing cows, a city meant to hold thousands, and any number of nooks and special rooms designed for keeping secrets — for centuries. And yet, even at that phenomenal size, the oppressiveness is tangible.
It starts on with Amy being cryogenically frozen with her parents. Her parents are kind of a big deal and they are to be sent off to a new habitable planet which will take 300 years to get to so they will be frozen in the mean time. Amy is nonessential to the mission but she wants to go with her parents. What she doesn’t expect is to wake up on the ship with fifty years until landing while every one else remains frozen. And the reason she woke up is that some one unplugged her. She barely survived. She was only the first but now others are being unplugged and they are dying. She needs to figure out who the murderer is while also trying to acclimate to life on the Godspeed. 
Life on the ship is not what Amy expects. Everyone is mono-ethnic which makes her stand out and the people on the ship seems to act like a heard of sheep. Following blindly to a cult like society where everything is controlled and regulated. Amy is seen as a freak with her pale skin, green eyes and red hair. Her only friends are Harley who resides in the mental ward and Elder the boy who is the future leader of the ship. 
Knowing nothing of how or why, she can think of only one thing: someone tried to kill her. Her doubts are suddenly confirmed as more frozen people are awakened and, not as lucky as her, found dead in their thawed chambers. Elder is part of the crew that has been running Godspeed since the beginning of its journey. Generations upon generations of his people have worked and lived within the confines of the ships metal walls, each generation lead by one leader, Eldest, and Elder is the next leader in training. Once Amy awakens, Elder is fascinated by her, by her pale skin, red hair and green eyes, but most of all by all her ideas, her knowledge, her way of seeing things coming from a world that he has never known. 
Together with Elder and Harley, they try to unravel the mystery of the people dying, while at the same time Amy tries to: understand a society that makes no sense to her, that feels wrong and controlling and full of lies; find a murderer; and cope with the fact that the next time she will see her parents she’ll be about 70 years old. And Elder starts to realize that everything he knows might be a lie, not knowing what is true, what is fabricated, what is wrong and what is right. 
Both Amy and Elder spend a lot of time being led and manipulated, rather than strongly directing their own paths, but I don’t think this shows weak characterization on their parts. They’re part of a web of lies and secrets so much bigger than themselves, what we’re seeing seems authentic. What makes them strong is their internal resilience. Even though they can’t control their destinies, they can fight. 
“Eldest thinks power is control, that the best way to be a leader is to force everyone into obedience. Holding Amy against me, I realize the simple truth is that power isn’t control at all-power is strength, and giving that strength to others. A leader isn’t someone who forces others to make him stronger; a leader is someone willing to give his strength to other so that they may have the strength to stand on their own. This is what I’ve been looking for since the first day I was told that I was born to lead this ship. Leading Godspeed has nothing to do with being better than everyone else, with commanding and forcing and manipulating. Eldest isn’t a leader. He’s a tyrant. A leader doesn’t make pawns-he makes people.”
The dual narrative was great in this book. I like knowing what the characters are thinking and it was especially nice to read about the same event from two perspectives. I was able to see Godspeed and its inhabitants as an outsider and also as their future leader. This allowed for me to care about the people but also see their dark side. There was a scene that I almost put the book down because I was literally scared and disgusted but it showed how inhuman people can become.

The story kept me interested and eager to discover Godspeed’s secrets. I admit, I wanted Amy to finally notice how awesome Elder is but the story also kept me reading. I love when books shock me, and this one has a few twists that left me reading with my mouth open in shock. 
Across the Universe felt both slow-paced and fast-paced to me. I would come up for air, realize that I was half-way done with the book, but at the same time, wondering why not much had happened. It is because Revis trickles her clues and mysteries slowly through her story, little by little, not holding anything back, but not given away too much too fast until the very end of the book. Also the element of claustrophobia in the ship- from the air to the populace in the ship is palpable. But also from space itself, an infinite, inhospitable vastness all around you. It’s a weight that is always there when you’re reading the book. There is nowhere to run, that is one of the more scarier concepts I’ve read in a long time. I will most definitely keep reading the series, it’s too good and too unique to pass up.
“I never thought about how important the sky was until I didn’t have one. ~ Amy”

Genre :      Fiction, Young Adult, Dystopia, Sci-fi

Publisher: Razorbill

Rate:              5/5 (It was amazing, go for it)


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