Overall Impression: A random mix of science fiction, dystopian and romance that intrigues but fails to entertain.
Aggh, unfortunately another book I was disappointed by, I seem to be hitting a bit of a rough patch in my reading lately. I’ve got to stop getting reeled in by pretty covers on books dammit!
I got this book last year for Christmas after putting it on my wishlist, and while there were some aspects of Across the Universe that were really interesting there were also a lot of issues I couldn’t overlook. Then again, maybe I’m just becoming the grumpy granny of the literary world, lol!
I am also using this book for the science fiction category on the Eclectic Reader Challenge. I think this is the first science fiction book I’ve ever read, so from that point of view it was at least a good way of dipping my toes into a new genre.
Amy has left the life she loves for a world 300 years away.
Trapped in space and frozen in time, Amy is bound for a new planet. But fifty years before she’s due to arrive, she is violently woken, the victim of an attempted murder. Now Amy’s lost on board and nothing makes sense – she’s never felt so alone.
Yet someone is waiting for her. He wants to protect her – and more if she’ll let him.
Amy has the opportunity to make a journey of a lifetime, they called it ‘the epitome of the American dream’, a chance to find more land on a new planet. Her mother and father are determined to embark on the journey, but Amy is not so sure. How can she leave behind her friends, her boyfriend and everything she has ever known? But she cannot imagine a world without her parents, so with a deep breath she steps into the unknown. She is frozen in cryo liquid.
But when someone attempts to murder Amy she is woken up early, stuck on the ship with nowhere to run she is alienated and alone. Life on the Godspeed is anything but normal, everyone looks the same, religion is considered a fairytale and half the people act unnaturally vacant. No one fights, no one asks questions and everyone has their rightful place. Their leader Eldest rules the ship with an iron grip and his apprentice Elder is due to follow in his footsteps. But as Amy grows closer to Elder he begins to notice the cracks in their perfectly polished ship. What is really going on inside Godspeed? And who tried to murder Amy?
Unfortunately Beth Revis’ writing leaves a lot to be desired, her prose are pretty simple and read more like an unfinished draft to me. Her descriptions are boring and repetitive, and she excessively uses the word ‘inhibit’ in an attempt to make everything sound more scientific. I don’t think the setting of the book helped in this case though, there are only so many ways to describe a ship with static surroundings, yet I still feel she could have done a bit better. It’s not that her writing is outright bad, there is just nothing very memorable or exciting about it. She also falls into the trap of using massive info dumps at the start of the book – something that can happen quite often in fantasy, and I imagine in science fiction ones too due to the fact that there is so much world building to set up. I will give Revis the benefit of the doubt though, this is her first novel so she is still learning the ropes.
The world building in this novel however, was really interesting and you can tell when you read it that a lot of thought has gone into it. The ship is designed so only certain levels of Godspeed are accessible to certain people correlating with their roles on the ship, creating a society based heavily on class. The technology ideas Revis has thought up are interesting too, the idea of ‘wicoms’ as communication devices embedded in the ear, ‘grav tubes’ replace the traditional lift/elevator and of course the freezing process that keeps Amy alive. Revis has even thought up her own swear words in true science fiction style. I just wish that the plot could have lived up to the set up. Apart from the interesting opening when Amy was being frozen, I felt that the plot really dragged, there seemed to be a whole lot of pages with not a lot happening. The plot seemed to go endlessly round in circles. They would try and work out who murdered Amy and the rest of the frozen people who were being unplugged, then they would stare at the clues and come to no conclusion. Rinse and repeat. Yawwwwnn. But the biggest fault in the plot? It’s blatantly obvious from the first 100 odd pages who is behind everything going on on the ship, the clues they spend days and days pondering over are also incredibly obvious and yet they don’t make the connection. I think maybe Amy’s brain is yet to thaw after all that ice.
Speaking of Amy she spends one third of the book crying, another third complaining about the unfairness of the world and the last third reminiscing about her old boyfriend. Which hey, okay is understandable, I would too but I would have preferred it if it was done in a slightly more subtle way, instead of being so whiny! It’s also pretty amazing that a character in such an intriguing situation manages to be so boring! In fact, if I had to sum up all of the characters in one word, it would be bland. None of them had personality and they all came across as exactly the same. In fact, it it wasn’t for the dialogue tags I would have thought all the conversations were the same person! There is almost no shift in personality or the way they talk, whether they are male or female, old or young. They all felt like bland shells. Amy, Eldest, Elder, Harley, Doc are all cardboard cut out copies of each other. The romance between Amy and Elder (if you can even call it that!) is lacklustre at best, not to mention it materializes out of nowhere.
So all in all I was really quite disappointed by this book. There were a lot of great ideas that could have been explored and fleshed out, but Revis didn’t choose to use any of them. It wasn’t an un-enjoyable read, but I didn’t really gain anything from reading it either. This is the first book in a trilogy but I have to admit that I don’t really have any desire to pick up the next two books…. maybe I will, I don’t know. I hate leaving series unfinished but at the same time I know there are a lot of other books that I would rather be reading…
I would recommend this book to people that are looking for something a little bit different, as the merging of genre’s was pretty unique. Preferably females 14+. 🙂
I picked out this quote because it’s a way of viewing the world that I really agree with so it kind of resonated with me. 🙂 However, it’s also an example of her repetitive use of words, lol!
“Even here, where fields and pastures and farms stretch out beyond the Recorder Hall porch all the way to the far wall, you can’t escape the boxes. Each field and pasture and farm is blocked off in careful fences, each fence measured out centuries ago, on Sol-Earth, before the ship launched. The blocks of land are not all equal in size, but they are all square, all meticulously measured. The hills in the pastures are designed to be evenly spaced, exactly placed bumps of grass for sheep and goats who don’t realize that their hills are just carefully organized, manufactured mounds of dirt and compost.
I’ve seen the landscape of Sol-Earth in the vids and maps. The land wasn’t perfectly laid out in neat little squares. Even grid-like cities had alleys and backstreets. Fields were fenced off, but the fences didn’t all go in perfect lines – they dipped around trees; they cut off at funny angles to avoid creeks or include ponds. Hills didn’t make even rows of bumps.
When I look at the fields, all I can see is how fake they are, how poor an imitation they are of the pictures of Sol-Earth fields.
I bet when Eldest posed for his portrait, he was reveling in the one thing I can’t stand about life aboard this ship: the perfect evenness of everything.
And that’s why I’ll never be as good an Eldest as he is.
Because I like a little chaos.”
Writing Style: 2/5
Character Development: 2/5
Would I recommend this book? Not really.
P.S. Have any of you hit reading slumps recently or in the past? Any tips for getting out of them? 😛