Category Archives: Across the Universe

Review: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone – one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship – tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now, Amy must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there’s only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

Across the Universe (Across the Universe #1) by Beth Revis

Release Date: 11 January 2011
Read Date: 26 September 2011
Rating:

Lessons learned:

Never trust HISTORY.
Never trust DOCTORS.
Never trust SCIENTISTS.
Never trust TECHNOLOGY.
Never trust BLANKET MEDICATION.

Overall my experience with this book was like meeting and falling in love, being excited and happy, then slowly finding out that he’s not perfect. He drinks out of the milk carton, he ignores you in favour of sports events and when you finally get his clothes off he’s as smooth as a Ken doll but insists he can still have children. Then finding out he’s right he can make babies, just not the same enjoyable way everyone else does, which is confusing and unsatisfying.

If you’re going to write science fiction, could you at least research the science? Please, please get your facts right, if you don’t then you must sell this as fantasy not SF.

I assumed, not even 50% in, that I was reading unscientific science fiction i.e. fantasy. As far as I was concerned the author had made little attempt to research certain aspects of her story so why was I wasting my time reading it? I was THIS close to giving up. It was almost as disastrous as my experience with the scientifically unsound I am Number Four. Little did I know that if I had given up, I would’ve missed out on the explanations which magically fixed many of the obstacles that I’d previously believed were unquestionably insurmountable because science told me so, and therefore the cure-all bandage Revis slaps on the problems didn’t sit right with me. They were hard to accept in the face of catastrophically fatal situations. There is a lesson in this: if it reads like unintelligent drivel some readers may give up on your work before you make the big reveal that attempts to explain the drivel.

Amy’s character is well-drawn and her memories and emotions are brilliantly portrayed. I had some difficulty with Elder’s character but his personality was a result of Eldest’s manipulation and his awakening is caused by Amy’s inquisitiveness and tenaciousness. I was glad he was finally able to see the truth of things.

Harley and his girlfriend were an excellent examples of people not being able to cope under the pressure of living on the claustrophobic ship surrounded by fakery (there is no substitute for the real thing) because despite his mood swings and obsession problem they were both perfectly sane, despite being labelled crazy.

It was completely understandable the almost absurd lengths Eldest went to to impose and maintain the many methods of manipulation in order for everyone to survive. Survival was imperative. Quality of life means nothing in the face of that. Or does it? And that’s what this questions.

This society may not believe in any religion as we know it but they do have religion: hope. Hope is their “opium of the masses” (a Marxist philosophy on the merits of religion) which is a method of control. By giving the people hope that their sacrifices will ensure that their children will be the ones to one day see real sky above their heads and feel earth beneath their feet, keeps them going, keeps them working, living, breathing. Without hope what is there?

There are moments, scenes, words of wisdom -that are pure genius and others where I felt baffled, confused and angry when I think I’m reading utter crap. Ideas have been stolen from movies like Serenity (Phydus is Pax) and the less popular Demolition Man (being conscious in cryo) which makes me wonder how much of this book is original. There is no romance despite the cover (Elder is interested in Amy but not vice versa), and we know who the killer is before the search even begins. Bevis gets the human element right but the science and mystery completely wrong. It’s a real mixed bag and it’s difficult for me to determine my position on this book, positive or negative. A five star beginning graduating to a one star ending?

Timeline of my reading experience (i.e. like status updates)

**SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT!**

~ Hooked by page 10 and in love by page 11. I am in love. And I am not a cheap date. But why don’t they knock ’em out before starting the freezing process? Much less painful and traumatising. This is not something I’d want to go through.

~ I’d want my extra year on Earth back too, honey, but life ain’t fair. Best you learn that now. You chose this, I wouldn’t have. Deal with it.

~ Reminded of the movie Demolition Man (and a little of The Matrix) here. They’re both conscious during their cryo state. How does she not go crazy?

~ Jarred by the second POV, Amy is more than enough for me. I like her. I like her a lot. I want her to live. So why does she never get her blood back during reanimation? She’s literally blue-blooded now. She IS a freak!

~ Frexing? Brilly? Chutz? Are there only three new words in 250 years? That’s unrealistic. Language in the 1760s was different to today. The author probably should’ve left these out instead of calling attention to it.

~ Why do they repeatedly say the generational Elder between Elder Jnr and Eldest is dead? He’s obviously not. And he’s probably the killer.

~ I’ve noticed a small thing and it’s got me thinking about the science in this science fiction. The plague killed off many, decreasing the on-board free-range population to the 700s -this is where I couldn’t help but question the MVP (minimum viable population). Taking into consideration the 100 frozen battery humans, I do a quick Google search and the result is not good. Extinction, a foregone conclusion. In theory you need more than 3,000 individuals for a species to survive. So why read the rest? Because I’m in lurve and this will be amazing. Nothing will spoil this. Nothing!

~ I like fresh air. *opens window*

~ That old man. He’s going to heaven sooner than he thinks, isn’t he? I just know it. Well, that solves the pensions crisis.

~ Um, if incest is an issue with such a small population, why is everyone indiscriminately bonking? Be ready for the possibility of birth defects in the next generation. Also, why are those in their twenties the only ones to go through their Season? Shouldn’t everyone older as well as the supposed crazies plus Amy, Elder, Eldest, Doc etc. be bonking their brains out?

~ Halfway in and we’ve turned away from a possible romance as advertised on the cover and we’re ignoring Elder’s boner around Amy’s red hair. No, now we’re solving a murder. Whaaaaat? Elder is all talk. I thought he was going to use that boner to show Eldest who’s boss. Er, that didn’t come out right. I meant, he was going defy Eldest by making love to that (girl with the) beautiful red hair and then usurp/depose Eldest. Oh, and quietly but quickly solve the whodunnit. Elder is a disappointing hero.

~ I liked my priorities. Why aren’t my priorities Amy’s priorities. Look, love, you’ve been frozen for centuries, without boys, there’s a cute muscley one in front of you, you have hormones, go get ‘im!

~ She refuses to listen. We must find clues to who likes to unplug frozen people. Yawn. We, the reader, all ready know who it is, why bother? There is no mystery to solve for us but we have to watch and wait for the characters slowly put things together. Tedious.

~ Let’s get rid of the Hitler-worshipping Nazi instead, shall we? Anything but crime-solving. Anything! A threesome with Harley? It promises to be colourful and sticky. Well, more sticky. No? *whines*

~ CSI:Godspeed is on the job!

~ Those fingerprints tell me the Eldest/Elders are clones. I wonder how this came to be and how they’re brought to term if they have no mothers.

~ Soon there’ll be no frozens left to help colonise Centauri. This ship is doomed.

~ Dragggggging. Not much happening.

*flips to the back*

Oh, a map. I didn’t know there was one.

*reads the last 40 pages*

That’s it?! That’s how it ends?! But…but that was too easy. No mystery to it, and I was right all along. No surprises, no realisation that they’re on a failed mission.

Amy should’ve stayed on Earth, run the New York marathon and married Jason. That was obviously her heart’s desire. Her father knew that, it’s a shame she didn’t. Mind you, it wasn’t fair of him to give her the choice at the last minute. She made a decision under pressure and panic had her following her parents.

*back to reading, well, skimming…*

~ Attempted rape. I thought Elder said there was no crime now. Hormones are no excuse.

‘And I know without being told that she killed herself. And I totally understand why.’ Me too. I don’t envy their lives.

~ Incest and MVP problem solved but not in a way I completely accept although I’m feeling very wary of medicine and scientists right now.

~ They’ve been travelling for more than 300 years. The Plague –suicide, murder, riots, chaos. A never-ending journey. 250 years behind schedule. I was right, they are doomed!

”People will survive anything for their children.”

p336 ~ The seasons, the generations and other methods of manipulation all make more sense now.

“We’re just pawns. A means to an end. Toys you manufacture to keep playing your game.”

The 3 main causes of discord:

1) Difference

2) Lack of leadership

3) Individual thought

~ SERENITY! – A big whopping dose of the movie, Serenity. Pax = Phydus. No reavers but the other effect of the Pax in varying doses is exactly the same as Phydus. Small doses = calm, large does = death)

~ Recycling. They recycle EVERYTHING. People are treated like things. *gulp*

‘[…] I realize the simple truth is that power isn’t control at all-power is strength, and giving that strength to others. A leader isn’t someone who forces others to make him stronger; a leader is someone willing to give his strength to stand on their own.’ p344.

I’ve read the end so…THE END.

*******I apologise for the extra long review but it was the only way to illustrate my frustrations.*******

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