Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Genre: young adult, dystopian, sci-fi
Amy is a cryogenically frozen passenger aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed. She expects to awaken on a new planet, 300 years in the future. But fifty years before Godspeed‘s scheduled landing, Amy’s cryo chamber is unplugged, and she is nearly killed.
Now, Amy is caught inside an enclosed world where nothing makes sense. Godspeed‘s passengers have forfeited all control to Eldest, a tyrannical and frightening leader, and Elder, his rebellious and brilliant teenage heir.
Amy desperately wants to trust Elder. But should she? All she knows is that she must race to unlock Godspeed‘s hidden secrets before whoever woke her tries to kill again.
Normally I would not go for anything remotely similar to science fiction, so I am surprised at how well I enjoyed the space aspect of this dystopian book, the first of a trilogy. In fact, I found the world, the technology, the science, the mystery so completely fascinating that it almost made up for my distrust of the characters.
The story is told through two different points of view, Amy’s and Elder’s, which I found to be incredibly refreshing for such a complex topic. Reading their thoughts in this romance-dystopian-sci-fi crossover created a well-rounded view of this world inside a spaceship. The complications from this, however, led me to distrust nearly everyone except Elder and Amy. Eldest is tyrannical, Doc has moments of empathy and then sudden, remote coldness, Orion comes across as kind but with a hidden motive, and Harley – my absolute favorite character – has such clarity in the midst of his instability. Yet, I could not fully trust any character, even to the end when truths are revealed. Plus, it doesn’t help the author’s intentions of creating a romantic relationship between the two narrators when the entire time a reader is rooting for Amy and Harley instead. They are more suited than Amy and Elder.
As far as the technology and science goes, it was incredibly fascinating to see how it could be twisted in a rather evil way and yet do such good for this trapped society. For example, to prevent violence all the citizens are drugged through the water system. To prevent overpopulation, people’s hormones are tampered to turn on only once every twenty years, like “animals in heat.” Some of these concepts sound so great – and conceivable in this day and age! – and yet they are cruel at the same time. Science could just as easily harm as it can help a society, and taking away an individual’s free will is constantly questioned in this book.
Also, everything Amy went through being frozen and then reawakened, all the psychological and physical trauma – as sick as it is for me to say this, I really enjoyed reading about that. I want to know how someone could survive being frozen for centuries and then wake up against their will to a world vastly different from the one they left, with a new way of speaking, a new culture, a place with no sky or seasons or proper weather. I loved watching her develop.
All the distrust and lies, however interwoven and complex, can be set aside long enough for me to look forward to reading the second book in this trilogy. I’m very interested to see what Elder plans to do next, how Amy reacts to these plans, and what sorts of scientific disturbances we come across next.