From the publisher: "Amy is a cryogenically frozen passenger aboard the spaceship Godspeed. She has left her boyfriend, friends--and planet--behind to join her parents as a member of Project Ark Ship. Amy and her parents believe they will wake on a new planet, Centauri-Earth, three hundred years in the future. But fifty years before Godspeed's scheduled landing, cryo chamber 42 is mysteriously unplugged, and Amy is violently woken from her frozen slumber."
Sounds cool doesn't it? This is such a great blurb. I love it. I purchased this book, not on reviews, author name, title or recommendations, but because of that blurb. Hats off to author Beth Revis and her publishing team for that alone. I could not wait to dive into this book and I was not disappointed as the first chapter unfolded. With stunning language and a terrific hook Across the Universe takes off like a rocket.
Image courtesy of BethRevis.com
Unfortunately, the rocket's engines fizzle as soon as we start the second chapter and meet Elder, a genetically engineered teen destined to lead the thousands of decidedly un-frozen people populating the Godspeed. Elder is uninteresting, whiny and, of course, hot. Wait, I can hear you say. Whiny love-interest aside, why isn't everyone frozen? Isn't that kind of the point of a cryo ship? Maybe something's gone wrong?
Yeah... No. What starts out as a hard core sci-fi novel, rapidly changes into an angst filled, very unrealistic and unscientific murder mystery. The plot is full of holes, dumb character mistakes, derivative plot points and details that just don't make sense--like the non-cryoed crew, and a space ship that is slowing down because it's engines aren't working. (I really hope that the last one is a plot point that will be addressed in another book because otherwise it's just bad science, bad writing and bad editing.) I could keep going but you get the point.
The characters don't help things. They're all cliches. You have the irrationally cruel leader, the handsome, athletic but rebellious love interest who is completely smitten with the heroin the moment he sees her, the quirky best friend and the beautiful, smart, tortured heroine who is so humble she doesn't even realize she's gorgeous. The only thing more cliched is her bright red hair which is constantly likened to a sunset (which no one but her has ever seen before). In the end I found myself more annoyed with them than anything else. I didn't feel sorry for Amy or relate to Elder. I didn't want to know more about them or fear for their lives. I just wanted them to be vaguely more realistic. Then I might have eked out some emotion towards them.
The language of the book, in trying to keep up with the great language in opening chapter, becomes much too flowery and over-dramatic. "More than the sound of my own beating heart, I miss the sound of a ticking clock. Time passes. It must..." Really? You miss a clock more than your own heartbeat? Yikes. In another scene as Amy is almost gang-raped she notes that the unwelcomed nibbles and bites of her attackers "had they come from my boyfriend Jason, I would have liked." Now I've never been raped, nor almost raped, but I can't imagine those would NOT be the sorts of thoughts going through my mind at the time.
I was really disappointed in this book. The opening shows the talent of Beth Revis, which makes the rest of the book so profoundly disappointing. This a book that I sadly put aside after an exhausting forced-read, thinking, "Too bad. That could have been so amazing." I would be hard pressed to find a reason to pick up the second book.
What to know: There are a lot of references to sex in this book. The main character reflects on her sexual encounter with her boyfriend before leaving earth.The male lead, Elder, ogles and fantasizes about getting to mate with Amy. Eventually the whole crew goes into a mating frenzy with couples copulating on the lawns and park benches. At one point Amy is nearly raped by a gang of sex-crazed crewmen. None of the language is graphic but there's plenty mention of breasts, moaning, hip grinding, writhing, etc. There's some violence and brief gore but nothing particularly noteworthy. I find it almost humorous that while the author did not shy away from sex, she did shy away from language, choosing to take a page from the Maze Runner and invent her own swear words. All told, this is not a book I'd recommend for any but the most mature of young readers.
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