Friday, January 21, 2011

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Release Date: January 11, 2011
Publisher: Razorbill

As the spaceship Godspeed travels toward a new earth, the lives of 100 cryogenically frozen settlers hang in the balance after someone endeavors to quietly murder them. The other passengers aboard the ship have never known life outside its walls and are enslaved by the machinations of Eldest, their tyrannical leader, who divides them into three distinct classes. When Amy, a frozen settler from earth, survives being thawed in a murder attempt, she immediately bonds with Elder, Godspeed's lone teen and future leader. Amy’s individuality, her rebellion, and her fierce desire for freedom, inspire Elder to act on his own doubts and defy Eldest--his mentor and keeper--with shocking results. Eldest’s methods of twisting history and altering the lives of this captive community are a frightening echo of tyrants in our own history, and Across the Universe challenges readers to consider the impact of unchecked power, blind trust, and the ability of one dissenting voice to make a difference.  - Amazon.com

This is my first review for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge.  I couldn't have picked a better book to start with than Beth Revis' debut of Across the Universe.  This was one of the most unique YA books I have ever read.  I'm not usually a fan of science fiction-y type stories, which I would definitely have described this book as such.  But somehow, I was able to ignore that and sink myself into this story completely.

First, let's talk characters.  Amy was a very strong character which was a unique mix into the emotionless world she's thrust into.  Her narrative was compelling, as she struggles to reconcile herself to the strangeness of this new world.  She has to battle a new claustrophobia of knowing she's stuck on a ship, can't see her parents and has no one in the world, except, perhaps, for Elder.

Being trained as the new leader, Elder has never really questioned the society he lives in aboard the ship, until he meets Amy.  Her very uniqueness is the catalyst that causes him to begin questioning everything.  As they both start to investigate the unfreezing of certain cryogenically frozen passengers, he begins to see how wrong things are in a society he has never questioned.  I love the fact that he was able to come to slow realizations of the wrongness around him.  He was willing to listen to her and see reason rather than holding stubbornly to his longheld beliefs.  These characters play off each other very well in the story.

Told in alternating points of view between Amy and Elder, this book sucked me right in.  I really couldn't point to a single part of this book that was slow and failed to hold me. I read it in like one day, which should speak for itself.  Beth Revis' writing was riveting, interesting, paced well, and at times very beautiful.  To hook a reader who has never liked this type of story like she did me, she shows her talent, and the fact that she's going to have some staying power in storytelling.

The twist at the end floored me.  I had even thought of it at one point, but dismissed it.  Yet, it still shocked me.  I was amazed how the author was able to keep it from coming out earlier in the book.  If I had one complaint, it was that the ending felt a little rushed to me.  However, I later found out that there is supposed to be a sequel, so it makes sense that the ending would hang a little bit.  Although, don't get me wrong, it did have a satisfying resolution.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone.  I'm so glad I picked this one for my first 2011 Debut Author Challenge.

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