Sunday, March 6, 2011

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Across the Universe is the Debut novel from author Beth Revis.  I have been not so secretly coveting this book from the first moment I laid eyes on this cover art.  1- I love the colors, the purples and the stars!  2- The title always makes me start singing Beatles songs in my head.  (It must be a nerd thing!)  3- It intrigued me that this was touted as a love story but the girl's eyes are closed and the boy is the one looking at her.  It just looked like an unusual love story.  When I recently won a copy of the book, you bet I did a little happy dance at my desk.  This is one new release for 2011 that I wanted to read- BAD. 

Across the Universe is pretty heavily sci-fi throughout, which was not typical of my favorite books.  My dad is the Trekkie- not me.  But this book felt a bit like Outside In & Inside Out by Maria Snyder.  Both those books and this one have the theme of being on a ship, in space, with no where to run to and the monumental task of keeping the peace with so many people stuffed into one ship with no where else to go.  I'm claustrophobic so just the thought of being in that situation freaks me out.  But then you add in the fact that Amy has been cryogenically frozen in a little box and I am willing to completely forgive any and all temper tantrums she may have over the course of this book. 

I really enjoyed watching the relationship between Amy and Elder develop and change.  I loved seeing each of them try to fit their knowledge of "the way things are/were" against the other's.  Elder believes that Amy is the one who is mistaken and Amy is SURE that Elder is the one who has been given incorrect information.  The way that they work together to find the truth amid the lies is really great.  Their friendship kind of blooms while they support each other through this crazy time.  I also love that Elder falls for Amy first.  She feels something for him from the start but her past, that she is still desperately clinging to, holds her back.  It's funny to see Elder experience falling in love and not see it for what it is because he doesn't know what love is or that emotion is supposed to go before/with the "urges" that he finds himself having.  It's really pretty comical.  The topsy turvy civilization that they find themselves in on the Godspeed is also pretty funny at times.  Their culture is so polar opposite of our own that it causes a real gut reaction.  It was pretty intense.  My only complaint about the whole book is this: the use of Hitler.  Now hear me out.  It is not the use of Hitler in that I would rather not have him brought up but I felt that the use of Hitler to make the point was kinda cheap.  Yes, Hitler is probably the most well know dictator who was famous for genocide.  Yes, to use Hitler can cause a strong reaction in the reader.  BUT there are at least a half dozen other famous dictators who committed genocide.  Beth could have used any of them.  I felt like it was her way of saying "this is the only way that the teenagers reading will get that gut punch at this moment and REALLY get what I am saying here."  I would like to give YA readers a little credit and would it be so wrong if they had to look up another reference?  To Google Stalin and see that he was responsible for nearly twice as many deaths as Hitler and that many were slow, painful deaths?  Which hits you harder?  But I digress.

All in all, I loved this book and can not wait for next year when the second book, A Million Suns, is due to come out.  (According to Goodreads, the plot of A Million Suns is "the plot of this book is currently a secret.")  I am really excited to see how things progress for Amy and Elder.  This book is definitely for older teens as there is a large segment of the book where you see numerous sexual references and even an attempted rape.  Also, the political under current inherent in dystopian works is probably better suited for teens over 16.  This book was epic, so give it a try if you haven't yet!!

Across the Universe earns 5 Fairies for a wonderful read about a boy and a girl lost out in space on a ship of lies.

You can find out more about Beth Revis and her Across the Universe books on Goodreads and her website.  I highly recommend a trip to her website- there is supposedly a "secret page" with a hidden pass code.  I have yet to figure it out myself but I expect it to be epic as that is Ms. Revis' style!

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