V's Reviews > Across the Universe

Across the Universe by Beth Revis
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Apr 02, 2013

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bookshelves: fiction, reviewed
Read from July 12 to 25, 2012

Hello everybody, and welcome to another one of Nessa's reviews. This time we're looking at Across The Universe by Beth Revis, a YA novel set on a dystopian (don't you dare run away!) spaceship.

Before we begin, I have one thing to get out of the way – the cover. So many times I would pick this book up in the shop and focus on the white space, wondering what the hell it was supposed to be. Is it supposed to be a spark made by two worlds colliding? No, the planets are shaped too weirdly. Is it two creatures with proboscises? Then I turned the book sideways.

Oh.

It's a boy and a girl about to kiss. Yeah. Didn't I feel silly.

Now that that's over with, I was kind of pleasantly surprised by this one. Yeah, who knew that catapulting the YA genre up into space would be so refreshing? No post-apocalyptic enclaves or utopias hiding some horrible secrets. No brutal competitions of any sort. With all of these boxes ticked (not that those dystopian settings are bad, I'm just tired of reading them), I was hoping there would be no love triangle. Just please, for once, no love triangle. Book, will you be like the awesome Anna Dressed in Blood and spare me the cheesy romantic crap? Let's find out, shall we?

I normally quite like it when books swap between more than one viewpoint. It helps to move the story along, fills in gaps in our main hero/heroine's knowledge, and if you're finding one character a little bit frustrating, it's sweet relief.

But those chapters in which main heroine Amy was just whining about being frozen and having nightmares and fleeting moments of consciousness? They didn't really work for me. Yes, I get it. Amy's terrified and misses her parents, yawn, I'd like to learn more about Elder, please.

Elder is our secondary character, and he's your average teenage boy. Well, your average teenage boy who's been raised all his life to become the eventual leader of a new generation on a space ship headed towards a planet 300 years away. He was quite sweet, a little bit dorky, and most of all, spent a lot of the novel trying to wriggle out from underneath his mentor Eldest's thumb, rather than just whining about it and biding his time 'til he became the leader of the ship. Hooray!

That is, until Elder meets Amy. He doesn't become obsessed with her, per say, he's more so just interested in her because she has a different hair and eye colour and because she's feisty and isn't afraid to display emotion. For example, this bizarre quote from page 345.

Amy pulls away and looks into my face. Her pale skin is blotchy red, her eyes are veined and shadowed, and a shiny line of snot trickles from her nose to the top of her lip. She wipes her face with her arm, smearing tears and mucus.

She has never looked more beautiful to me.


...Ew. The romance wasn't really the main draw of the book, but Amy and Elder's love didn't feel real to me. At the end of the novel, Elder and Amy get to be together, and I just didn't care one jot for the pair of them. Elder drools a little too much over Amy's ethnic differences, and Amy just... doesn't really show much reaction to him whatsoever. At some points, she hates him, and at others, he's a friend. Sort of.

Well, anyway, the main focus of the plot is that Amy was pulled out of this cryostasis fifty years before the ship is due to land on the new planet. It's basically attempted murder, but, as Amy discovers, she's not the only one being forcibly woken up. So, she teams up with Elder in order to try and solve this mystery. I was quite happy to follow along with the events, and was hoping for a story to really get my teeth into. I've never read a murder mystery that took place on a spaceship, so count me in.

Sadly, I cannot believe that Across the Universe decided to treat me like a moron, by dropping some incredibly obvious hints throughout the story. The character who is revealed to be the murderer at the end quotes from Paradise Lost, in particular, the part where it is said that the deepest depths of Hell are frozen over. He also has a scar along his ear and neck from ripping out his tracking device. Our mystery involves a locked-off area, and all the tracking information states that nobody else has been down there. Excepting this guy, of course. Ooh, scary.

I'd also like to point out that there are some incredibly contrived moments in which the reader is assured that Eldest is not the one behind all these murders. There were just too many ridiculous moments in which he is made out to be evil enough to join a minor league of super-villains and other despots.

Exhibit A: He teachers Elder that any kind of difference in society breeds contempt. Hence why the population of the spaceship has been maintained as mono-ethnic for the past few generations.

Exhibit B: He educates Elder about the great leaders back on Earth. Such as Abraham Lincoln, who, according to Eldest, recognised the discord between races and swiftly sent the African-American population back to Africa to avoid another bloody war.

Exhibit C: Eldest told Elder in the past that Hitler was a 'great man'.

Exhibit D: He keeps the population happy with a few promises and a drug they don't even know they're taking which calms the nerves.

Exhibit E: Eldest is an alcoholic.

Exhibit F: He maintains a policy of eugenics aboard the ship, injecting and genetically manipulating the people and the animals into being born without any flaws whatsoever.

You see my problem with this book? It seemed every time Eldest was around, there was some little clue in the writing to tell you that he was evil. I really hate being spoon-fed, and it really ruined the final part of the book for me.

Speaking of the final part of the book, I read it completely bored, knowing what was going to happen and rolling my eyes when the villain was unmasked with all the panache of the end of an episode of Scooby Doo. Admittedly, there was a fun twist near the end, reveal why all the biometric scanning was bypassed, but otherwise, nothing much to see here.

All in all, this was a decent novel. The writing is alright, the setting is intriguing, and we have a nice handful of side characters, such as Harley. It's also good to see two strong main characters who each have a hand in investigating these murders, even if their courtship is about as interesting as watching paint dry. Sadly, those of us who have read more than a few crime novels will see through the more obvious hints, clear as day. I am not saying the novel is bad because it isn't cerebral. Rather, it's bad because the hints were made far too obvious for my liking. Maybe if that aforementioned Paradise Lost-reading character had just been reading it in the background, rather than going on about how Hell is frozen over, or Eldest only mentioned his love for tyranny only a few times, it would have worked a lot more to the book's advantage. 3/5.

(This review is also available on my blog: http://book-wyrm.blogspot.co.uk/2012/...)
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Reading Progress

07/12/2012 page 6
2.0%
07/12/2012 page 17
4.0% "I really can't take the word frex seriously as an expletive.

*stubs toe* FREX!!!" 1 comment
07/20/2012 page 86
22.0% "The high cut of his cheekbones and the strong curve of his forehead make him look instantly trustworthy, maybe even kind. If you can tell whether or not somebody is a good person by the shape of their forehead and cheekbones... then what the hell." 1 comment
07/22/2012 page 171
43.0% "I'm liking the murder mystery angle. Not liking how Eldest is characterised as being a despot because he's told Elder he thinks dictators were great men. :/" 1 comment
07/23/2012 page 224
56.0% ":/"
07/23/2012 page 228
57.0% "So Eldest is a supporter of eugenics and genetic manipulation so that everyone born on this spaceship will be a genius. He also told Elder a little while ago that Hitler was a 'great leader'. Oh for fuck's sake. I get it, Eldest is evil." 4 comments
07/23/2012 page 240
60.0% "Eldest is also evil because he believes one of the causes of all human discord is individual thought. I get it, he's a tyrant and a dictator.

Conversely, I'm 100% sure now he's not really involved in this murder mystery, since it just seems WAY too bleeding obvious."
07/23/2012 page 257
65.0% "Fuck me, book. I wanted a decent murder mystery aboard a space ship and you give me...

1) LOL ELDEST BEING THE MURDERER IS A RED HERRING BECAUSE HE'S SO RIDICULOUSLY EVIL

2) THE MOST FUCKING OBVIOUS HINT TO THE REAL KILLER EVER. So people are being killed by being dragged out of cryo too early aboard this ship... and the perp is reading Paradise Lost, specifically the bit where it says Hell is frozen." 2 comments
07/23/2012 page 257
65.0% "Elder, why are you STILL insistent that Eldest is the murderer here? It's clearly the other guy! Eldest is probably aiding and abetting this other dude, but don't you tell me you can't tell that somebody who tries to intimidate you by talking about a frozen hell when referring to Amy ISN'T something to do with this."
07/23/2012 page 271
68.0% "When I meet her glazed eyes, there's a glazed film over them, as if she's just woken up.

Dear brain: Amy does not have a third eyelid or cataracts. Please stop imagining it as such. e___e" 1 comment
07/23/2012 page 277
70.0% "Whoaa, that was a sudden character shift for Amy."
07/23/2012 page 289
73.0% "So... essentially, seeing the stars is the equivalent of being moon-blinked, you know, like in Legend of the Guardians? o_0"
07/23/2012 page 289
73.0% "Ah, and there's something in the water. Of course."
07/23/2012 page 294
74.0% "Eldest is not only a tyrant who idolises dictators, he's also an alcoholic. I get it, he's not exactly the best man to have in charge of thousands of people! You've shown me this a kazillion times now!"
07/24/2012 page 300
75.0% ""And the stars all had streaks of light chasing them, all shining down on us, on you."

Great. Now I have Rule The World by Take That stuck in my head."
07/24/2012 page 305
77.0% "...So, Elder has been indoctrinated to believe that Abraham Lincoln, one of the great leaders, sent all the black people back to Africa after the Civil War. After all, according to Eldest, ethnic differences are one of the causes of discord.

Yes, Ms. Revis. I get it. He's a completely disgusting human bean.

It's such a shame the novel is going in this direction, because I was really enjoying it."
07/24/2012 page 340
85.0% "*snores*"
07/24/2012 page 345
87.0% "Amy pulls away and looks into my face. Her pale skin is blotchy red, her eyes are veined and shadowed, and a shiny line of snot trickles from her nose to the top of her lip. She wipes her face with her arm, smearing tears and mucus.

She has never looked more beautiful to me.


Oh god, that's just disgusting." 4 comments
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Haya (last edited Jul 28, 2012 11:12AM) (new) - added it

Haya I have a different edition, but I, too, didn't notice the guy and girl until much, much later.

Great review!


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

I have been trying to decide whether I should give this a shot. I'll keep it on my Amazon wish list, but I'm not going to kill myself trying to get my hands on it.


Kana It's a boy and a girl about to kiss. Yeah. Didn't I feel silly.

Hehehehehehehehe, that made me laugh more than I should have.


message 4: by V (new) - rated it 3 stars

V Kana wrote: "It's a boy and a girl about to kiss. Yeah. Didn't I feel silly.

Hehehehehehehehe, that made me laugh more than I should have."


I aim to please. ;)


message 5: by Brandi (new)

Brandi I couldn't even read the rest of your review before telling you that I had NO idea that was a couple on the cover either, hahahaha!!!!!


message 6: by Shwey (new) - added it

Shwey Oh, my goshes. Is that like an actual quote from this book? No, freaking way!


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