Across the Universe by Beth Revis Review 3/5

Overall Impression: A random mix of science fiction, dystopian and romance that intrigues but fails to entertain.Across the Universe

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
Originality: 3/5
Entertainment: 3/5
Character Development: 2/5
Would I recommend this book? Not really.

Overall 3/5

P.S. Have any of you hit reading slumps recently or in the past? Any tips for getting out of them? 😛

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18 thoughts on “Across the Universe by Beth Revis Review 3/5

  1. The Joker liked a little chaos, too. And look what happened to him.

    I see what you mean about the writing style, it does have that first-draft feel about it.

    If I get into a reading slump, I set fire to things and then around the streets naked. A short spell in jail usually makes me appreciate literature more when they let me out.

    • Haha touche. I like chaos, but not THAT much chaos. Lol. 🙂

      Ahh good, I’m glad it’s not just me that thinks it!

      Whoa, interesting tactics. I’m not sure that’s for me though, it seems a bit too extreme for a gal like me. 😛

    • Haha, I’m glad you found it funny. 😀 I honestly do feel like it sometimes, but then because I’ve read soooo many books now I have higher standards me thinks. :L

      Lol, exactly!!!

      Thanks for commenting, always great to hear from you. 🙂

  2. Are you sure you haven’t read a science fiction book before this? Have you read the Hunger Games? That has some science fiction parts in it. It also probably has a better dystopian story, so I would recommend that if you haven’t read it yet.

    Across the Universe sounds like it has good ideas, but it didn’t live up to its own potential. It’s a shame when an author puts a lot of work into a world and it’s all ruined by poor writing.

    I guess when I’m in a slump, I try to read something different. If I’m reading young adult, I switch to a more challenging book. If I’m tired of one genre, I try a different one. I also always try to read the books that seem the best in their genre. I often look for classics that I haven’t read yet, or newer books that have had really positive responses from readers.

    • Danuscript, it’s nice to have you back! 🙂

      Yeah I have read The Hunger Games, but I more meant I haven’t really read something before where science fiction was the main genre if you see what I mean. The Hunger Games is a lot more action, dystopian, romance than science fiction in my opinion, so I saw it more as a sub genre in that case rather than the main one. This book however, was predominately sci-fi even though there were several other sub-genre’s mixed in.

      It did have a lot of good ideas! Which unfortunately made it all the more disappointing. :/ Maybe she will get better the more books she writes…

      Hmm that’s a good idea, I’m not going to go on reader responses because that doesn’t seem to be working for me lately, lol. But the classic/different genre thing sounds like it might work. I think I might give Dracula a go next – both a classic and something different for me. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by! Does this mean the blog will be resurrected any time soon?

      • Thanks!

        Yeah, I see what you mean about the Hunger Games. Katniss spends more time in the forest or jungle than she does in a space ship.

        I suppose positive responses from readers cannot always be trusted. Many people like Fifty Shades of Grey or Twilight, but I can’t imagine I would like them. Classics are safer bets, I think. At least you know that people have enjoyed the book for decades (or centuries, depending on how old it is) and even if you don’t enjoy it, you have the satisfaction of knowing you read it.

        The blog should return soon. I’m almost done with school, so I will be glad when I have time to read and write for my own enjoyment, rather than for a grade.

      • Ha ha! I can just imagine you squirming while reading Fifty Shades of Grey. I’ve read a lot of excerpts and it’s truly terrible. It’s interesting seeing what catches the masses attention, especially with the backing of good advertising.

        Ahh good, I look forward to it. 🙂

  3. I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that it’s easier for people to get books published these days. I just don’t remember there being so many books to choose from let’s say 20 years ago. There are many new books released each week, so it doesn’t surprise me that you are finding some duds! They can’t all be good when there are so many flooding the market. Maybe the publishers aren’t being as selective as they used to be. I’m finding it the same with movies lately. There are so many being released every week that I can’t keep up, but some of them are just junk. Hey, this would be a good debate topic wouldn’t it?

    Just don’t get discouraged because there are countless amazing books out there too, and I know how much reading means to you :). Your next read will be a gem!

    • Yeah agreed, especially if you add eBooks in to the mix, now anyone can get published if they want! I think this one probably got published mainly because it’s dystopian, and everyone’s dystopian crazy at the moment after the interest in The Hunger Games. Otherwise, I’m not too sure if it would have made it.
      *Sigh* yeah, way more duds than I would like. :/ But that is true. I agree with what you’re saying about the movies as well! There are barely any good ones anymore, they seem to be becoming rare. Haha, it would indeed!

      Thanks for the positive vibes! 🙂 I will try not to. I’ve decided to reread one of my old favourites, because I know it’s garanteed enjoyment. 😛

  4. You can’t be that grumpy – you have festive snow on your blog which makes me smile every time I come and visit! 🙂

    For a reading slump I usually pick something at random – outside the stuff I generally read, sometimes non-fiction to get my own imagination going – is truth stranger than fiction? Or I’ll read a classic I’ve not done before, or in a long time. If you like dystopian, try one of the classics like We, Brave New World or 1984 maybe, or for sci-fi maybe Philip K Dick or H G Wells – at least with the classics you know you’re getting an original(ish) idea and can see where they’ve influenced the writers who have come later.

    Maybe it’s a uni thing too – I found that I struggled to enjoy reading as much in my first year because so much else was trying to cram into my brain…it feels a bit of a chore not a pleasure when that happens.

    Good luck!

    • Haha thanks! I’m glad you like the snow, it makes me feel all Christmas-ey, although sometimes it makes the page glitch a bit. But hey, worth it! 😛

      Hmmm that’s interesting, I never would have thought of trying non-fiction to get out of a reading slump, I might have to try that. I’ve wanted to read 1984 for ages! 🙂 But I don’t own the book *sigh*. In class we recently talked about H G Wells too so I’m curious to give him a go at some point. Yeah that’s true, in fact, maybe that’s why I’m not enjoying current books so much at the moment, because I’ve read more classics this year and there just in a different league!

      I think you’ve really hit the nail on the head there… I think it mostly is to do with uni. There just doesn’t seem to be much time for reading here….especially since I have a roommate too!

      Thanks. 😀

  5. The blurb made it sound like such an interesting book, what a shame! That paragraph quote almost drove me insane! Use synonyms people! I could see how that could get annoying. Don’t assume that all sci-fi novels are like that, though. There are some pretty good ones out there 🙂

    • Yeah, it”s always disappointing when you think a book is going to be really good (I read a lot of great reviews for this one).
      Haha, I know right! And it was the most insightful paragraph in there. Make of that what you will. 😛 Agreed! She uses the same words too many times.

      I won’t! Any suggestions? 🙂

      • Ooh, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams is pretty good. As is Scott Westerfeld’s novels (some are sci-fi and some are fantasy).I’m not a big sci-fi reader though, so there are probably heaps more.

      • Ahh yeah, several people have mentioned that book to me in the past, I will keep it in mind. 🙂 Scott Westfeld I haven’t heard of, so I will check him out too. Thanks!

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