Saturday, February 12, 2011

Across the Universe (YA)

Across the Universe. Beth Revis. 2011. January 2011. Penguin. 416 pages.

Daddy said, "Let mom go first."

I found Across the Universe a compelling read. It's narrated by Amy, a teen girl who was awakened fifty years too soon from her frozen sleep, and Elder, a teen guy, who was born to be a leader to an as-yet unborn generation of colonists on the Godspeed. He's being trained by Eldest, the leader of the space ship. The ship manages itself, but it is his job, his responsibility, to manage the people on the ship.

The novel opens with Amy. She's in a difficult position. Her parents are determined to be part of this colony ship. They're both "essential" to the mission. They've got the necessary skills, the needed skills, to plant a colony on an alien planet. True, they won't arrive for three hundred years, if everything goes according to plan. But then they'll have a new life. Amy has been given a choice, by her father, she can remain on Earth, stay with the rest of her family, stay with her boyfriend, and have a comfortable life--not a perfect life, not a problem-free life. But a chance to continue living life as she knows it. Or. She can be frozen like her parents. She can choose to take a chance on a new life, a challenging life, an uncertain life. She's scared, no doubt about it. Because there is no easy answer.

When readers first meet Elder, he's stumbled upon something that he's not quite ready for. This accident proves beneficial--for Eldest realizes that he's been failing at his job. He's not been taking his responsibilities seriously enough. He's ignored Elder for too long. And it's time for Elder to start learning many, many things. But he's not ready to tell his secrets--the ship's secrets--all at once. No, Elder will have to continue proving himself. But Elder has shown great potential.

One of the things Elder discovers is the storage room with all the frozen people. He NEVER knew that the ship carried these passengers. He always assumed that the feeders were the future colonists. (They are the workers on the ship.) His curiosity leads him to this room where he stumbles across a frozen Amy. But she won't be frozen for long...

Amy is just the first in a handful of attempts to tamper with the frozen passengers. Some they find in time, they're able to plug them back in before any damage is done. Others they don't find in time. Others die. It's all unsettling. Especially for Amy. For this "new" society is unreal, bizarre. She's surprised that this new world is mono-ethnic, animalistic, mindless. 

Together, Amy and Elder try to solve some of the great mysteries of the Godspeed.

There are no easy answers in this one. And I liked that. Decisions matter in this one. I found this book fascinating and compelling. It had danger and mystery. It had a little romance too. It's a complex world Beth Revis has created. And I enjoyed spending time in it. I found some elements quite clever. (Like the scene with the Gettysburg Address.)

Favorite lines:

I miss, more than the sound of my own beating heart, the sound of a ticking clock. Time passes, it must pass, but I have no more assurance of moving through time than I have that I am moving through space. In a way, I'm glad: this means perhaps 300 years and 364 days have passed, and tomorrow I will wake up. Sometimes after a cross-country meet or a long day at school, I'd fall into bed with all my clothes on and be out before I knew it. When I'd finally open my eyes, it would feel like I'd just shut them for a minute, but really, the whole rest of the day and half the night was gone. But. There were other times when I'd collapse onto my mattress, and shut my eyes, and dream, and it felt like I'd lived a whole lifetime in that dream, but when I woke up, it had only been a few minutes.
What if only a year has gone by? What if we haven't even left yet? That is my greatest fear. (67)

Everything is wrong here. Shattered. Broken.
Like the light.
Like me.
I never thought about how important the sky was until I didn't have one.
I am surrounded by walls.
I have just replaced one box for another. (125)

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Tinkerbell said...

i want to read this one!


kisses becky and have a nice weekend!

Carrie K. said...

I just ordered this - so glad it's so good!

Kailana said...

I am hoping to read this book eventually. Glad people are enjoying it!