Across the Universe by Beth Revis (ARC) - Amy has left the life she loves for a world 300 years away. Trapped in space and frozen in time, Amy is bound for a new planet. But fifty years before she’s due to arrive, she is violently woken, the victim of an attempted murder. Now Amy's lost on board and nothing makes sense - she's never felt so alone. Yet someone is waiting for her. He wants to protect her; and more if she’ll let him. But who can she trust amidst the secrets and lies? A killer is out there – and Amy has nowhere to hide... From Amazon UK
When I first heard about this book, I knew I had to read it. Not because it sounded great, not because of the beautiful cover, and not because it was a debut novel. I wanted to read it because it was by Beth Revis. I don't know if other British bloggers are as familiar with Beth as they are with maybe Cat Clarke or Karen Mahoney, British authors who are prevalent in the book blogosphere, but Beth is also one of those authors. She has commented on various posts on Ink and Paper, and I have commented on hers, and remember when she was still an aspiring published author. So to me, Beth is "one of us". So of course I had to read her novel, and I really, really wanted to like it. There were two things that worried me though. Firstly, it's set in space, and I have absolutely no interest in fiction set in space in book form (put it on the TV or the cinema and I'm there). Secondly, it's dystopia, and I've found I don't get on well with them. But Beth wrote it, so I had to read it. And, oh my god, it was amazing!
I actually don't know where to start. Let's start with the space/sci-fi aspect. As I said, I have no interest in space in books, but I'd say Across the Universe is very light on the sci-fi. Of course, the story is set on the spaceship Godspeed, and there have been some technical advances since Amy left Earth 250 years ago, such as floppies - computers on floppy sheets of plastic (think tablets, but on perspex), and wi-coms, communication devices implanted behind the ear, but Revis writes it in such a way as to make it all sound so simple and understandable, it's not overly heavy and complicated. Also, there are farms, homes, a hospital and other buidings within the lower level of the ship, it's that big. So although you're always aware that the story is set on a spaceship, and how claustrophobic it is, there's still a familiar feel to it, which helps for someone like me who wouldn't normally pick up a book because it's space sci-fi.
The "world" of the ship is just wow. A lot of time has gone by on this ship, and there have been some changes to what we consider normal. How they are ruled, the process of reproduction, and the things that go on behind the scenes that the population at large doesn't know about. There are some absolutely shocking and disgusting discoveries to come across in this book, so I won't spoil them for you. But the way Revis wrote it, the circumstances on board the ship, and the reasons for what happens, you find yourself understanding and seeing the "logic" of it all, even though it's absolutely horrendous. It's just fantastic!
The plot itself is just genius! It's so intricate with the murder mystery, Amy discovering everything from technology to the way of life, and Elder and Amy finding out what's really going on, and having everything link to each other. Seriously, I was reading and just couldn't stop thinking "Wow!" It blew me away time after time, it was just fantastic!
What's not made clear in the blurb is that the novel is actually from multiple perspectives, that of Amy and Elder, which in and of itself is just genius because of how different they are, they both learn from the other about how things are, how things should be, and what's "normal". Amy is just a brilliant character. As you can imagine she's devastated to have been woken up early, that she almost died, and will be older than her parents when they are woken up, and she's suffering from culture shock over how things are just so different, and claustrophobia. Yet she's absolutely determined to get to the root of the attempted murder and keep her frozen parents safe. It's almost like it's something to focus on to keep her going while she adjusts to her new life. Elder is brilliant too. He wants to learn, he wants to know all there is to know about being Eldest - the leader - so he can do a good job, and has more than one internal conflict going on over what the right thing actually is. The romance between them is a slow burner, but it's really, really sweet! I absolutely love how enthralled Elder is by Amy's red hair, and how he describes it - being a red head myself, it was a bit of an ego boost, ha!
The ending is just wonderful! I have to admit I did work out some things earlier on in the book, but there were others that just... made my jaw drop! It was brilliant, and wonderful, and completely satisfying considering the circumstances. I absolutely loved this book! It was clever, thoughtprovoking, emotional, fascinating, and just simply...wow. Kiersten White is quoted saying, “A horrifying and deliciously claustrophobic masterpiece that’s part sci-fi, part dystopian, and entirely brilliant,” and I couldn't have put it better myself. I cannot wait to read the next book, which should be making it's way to our grubby little hands sometime next year. If there is only one book you buy this year, it has to be this one.
Thank you to Puffin for sending me a review copy.
Published: 3rd March 2011
Publisher: Razorbill UK
Buy on Amazon US
Beth Revis' Website