Book Review: Across the Universe by Beth Revis


Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Amy is a cryogenically frozen passenger on the Godspeed, a ship that has left Earth in order to find another habitable planet. She is a non-essential, simply along for the ride with her parents. She should wake up 300 years later when the Godspeed has landed on Centauri-Earth, their destination. But when she is mistakenly awoken early, she finds herself on a ship inhabited by an unnaturally passive peasantry led by a ruthless leader, Eldest.

She also discovers that someone is unplugging the frozen passengers, effectively killing them. Together with Elder, the heir to the leader position, she must discover who is behind the murders before they get to her parents.

There are several aspects to this book: the science-fiction aspect, the murder mystery and the  coming of age of Amy and Elder. The science fiction aspect is deftly handled: Revis builds a very believable world inside the guts of Godspeed. From the complicated politics of maintaining calm amongst a population who live and die without ever seeing the stars, or breathing fresh air to the descriptions of temperature variations, a huge solar lamp instead of an actual sun, a too-uniform landscape, Revis gives science-fiction fans a lot to bite into. Although the reasons why they are seeking a new planet are only cursorily examined, it is not hard to fill in the blanks and she does not waste any time explaining more than we need. Suffice it to say that an ominous organisation called the Financial resource Exchange is sponsoring the trip.

The murder mystery is a little less deftly handled. I guess who was behind the murders quite early on and trust me, that is unusual. yet, I am not sure if it makes the book any less enjoyable as the characters do not guess until the very end. Revis creates that tension that comes when you know what’s going to happen but the characters are clueless. Though I think she might have overdid it- that they did not figure out until the very end the murderer even when it was becoming quite obvious became a little onerous to read about.

Amy and Elder are both complicated, nicely drawn characters. The predicament Amy finds herself is not enviable- she is now hundreds of years away from the life she used to know. To make it worse, she is alone. her parents are not due to be unfrozen for another fifty years. Her reactions are understandable and work as a nice foil for Elder  who is undergoing his own coming of age as a leader. Will he choose to be the same kind of leader as Eldest?

Altogether a very enjoyable read. I am looking forward to picking up the sequels!

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