Across the Universe, by Beth Revis
Rating: 3 out of 5
Amy, 17, is cryogenically frozen so that she can join her parents on a special mission to a new planet, one that will take 300 years to get to. 50 years prior to their scheduled landing, Amy’s cryo chamber is unplugged. Not only does she almost die, but she is now stuck on the ship, unfrozen and an outsider. When additional ‘frozens’ are found unplugged, Amy teams up with Elder, next in line to rule, to find out what’s going on before anyone else, including her parents, dies.
There was a lot of hype leading up to the release of this book, and I was incredibly excited about it. The concept alone was enough to make me rush out and buy it. But as I started reading it, I found my excitement ebbing.
The story is well-developed and the world is richly described and convincing. I guessed at some of the twists, but the majority of them came about in unexpected ways and with unexpected consequences. The one element that took away from the story was the use of voice.
Across the Universe is told in first person, but split between two narrators – Amy and Elder. I did not feel that either voice was developed enough for me to easily identify the speaker. I had to keep flipping back to the beginning of the chapter to see who was telling the story and I even thought Elder was a female for several pages into his first chapter. I’ve read other books where first person narration is split among two characters. For this to work, the voices need to be very well-developed (check out Leviathan for an excellent example). Because this fell short for me, it took away from the story. I kept getting distracted, trying to remember who was talking.
Despite my issues with voice, I thought the story was original and intriguing. Not only does Revis tell a good story, but she alludes to some deeper issues that make you think. I can see several English class/book club discussions coming out of this book.
Do I think you should give this book a shot? Yes. It’s worth the read.