Bookanistas: Across the Universe

So, Across the Universe, by Beth Revis. Part science fiction, part dystopian novel, part murder mystery, part romance… though not as much as the cover would indicate.
Here’s what the back cover says: 
Amy is a cryogenically frozen passenger aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed. She expects to wake up on a new planet, 300 years in the future. But fifty years early, Amy’s cryo chamber is unplugged, and she is nearly killed.
Now, Amy is caught inside an enclosed world where Godspeed’s passengers have forfeited all control to Eldest, a tyrannical and frightening leader, and Elder, his rebellious and brilliant teenage heir.
Amy desperately wants to trust Elder. But should she? All she knows is that she must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets before whoever woke her tries to kill again.
Here’s what I say: 
Whoo boy.  My friend Jenny the Librarian says that this book hits the sweet spot between literary and genre or commercial fiction. Revis tells a thrilling story in a really interesting (and yes, literary) way. 
The book is told in alternating first person present tense viewpoints: Amy, the girl in the back cover copy and first chapter, and Elder, the boy in training to be the ship’s next leader. He is as much a protagonist as Amy–possibly even more so. (I particularly liked Elder’s voice and character.)
Now, I’m going to be upfront and say that (1) I really don’t like first person present tense and (2) I really REALLY don’t like alternating first person present tense. This isn’t a fault of the book, it’s just a personal preference. So this was a lot for me to get over.
But it was such an interesting use of POV.  The switches at the chapter breaks gave Revis an unusual control over the pacing of the narration, almost choreographing it, in a way, as chapters are sometimes pages long, and sometimes mere sentences. The voices were distinct, and I particularly liked Elder’s voice and character. In the end, it was such an intrinsic part of HOW the author unfolded the story, the book wouldn’t be the same written any other way.
And I was completely drawn into the mystery part of the story, and then each reveal of the dystopian facets and The Big Secret of this book. It was definiteIy a page turner. I loved every reveal (even a few that I saw coming), the world building was fantastic, and there was a great depth of emotional resonance. Just staggering, really.
The end of this book is somewhat unresolved–it’s not an end so much as a pause before the next book. It’s clear that the solution to book one’s problems are going to set up new problems in book two, and I’m okay with that. I’d rather have a planned trilogy, than a conflict that’s stretched out unnaturally for three books. There is definitely enough story here for two more books. I’ll be very interested in what happens next.

Here’s what else the Bookanistas are talking about this week:

5 thoughts on “Bookanistas: Across the Universe”

  1. I loved that this book had that literary edge. The characterization was so strong. And like you said, the world building. I'm not normally a huge fan of alternating pov's either, but it was done so well in this. Great review, Rosemary!


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