GENRE: Young Adult-Romance-Dystopian-Science Fiction
PUBLICATION DATE: 2011
READ DATE: October 2011
SUMMARY: 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.
Dystopian is very popular genre in young adult and adult fiction nowadays. I am a huge fan of this type of story so I am always on the lookout for a new twist. When I got Across the Universe, I'll admit I was a little hesitant as I'm not usually a fan of science fiction stories. Thankfully, this book completely took all my misgivings and threw them out the window. Everything about Across the Universe worked for me from the plot to the characters to the worldbuilding. I was completely sucked in and not released until I was finished.
Across the Universe is a dystopian novel, but uses science fiction to give the genre a new direction. The whole concept of a society that is trapped on a spaceship for generations is fascinating to me. Add to that a mysterious event that occurred decades before the actual story takes place and readers are set up for a fun ride. The pace begins slowly (on purpose) in order to provide a sense of Elder and Amy's worlds before they begin interacting. We see Amy get prepared to be frozen along with her family and Elder go about his daily life without much direction. But, once the two meet, the story takes off and speeds toward a dramatic climax and slightly cliffhanger ending.
I really enjoyed the mystery element that surrounded life on Godspeed and the purpose of its leader, Eldest. It kept my interest and I was pleasantly surprised by all the revelations that appeared throughout the book. I also liked that the growing relationship between Elder and Amy was important, but not the focus of the story. I think the plot would have suffered if the romance had taken the reins, not the mystery.
Another aspect of the book that I enjoyed was the alternating point of views between Amy and Elder. This writing style allowed readers to see both characters' viewpoints on important scenes. I believe this gave me more insight into the depths of the main characters and made me care more about them as people.
While I believe the plot and worldbuilding is the strongest part of Across the Universe, I also really enjoyed the characters. I am a very character-driven reader so if I can't get into them, I am done. This was definitely not the case in this book. The main characters are so well-written and full of depth. And all the secondary characters provide intriguing scenes without overshadowing the others though I have a small affection for Elder's best friend Harley and his heartbreaking past.
Amy is a seventeen year old girl whose parents have been chosen to be cyrogenically frozen for three hundred years to help colonize a new planet known as Centauri-Earth. She is given the option to be frozen with her parents and spend the rest of her life on the original Earth. Obviously, for the sake of plot, she decides to join her parents. Unfortunately, for her, she is woken up early and must try to understand the society that has evolved on the ship.
Amy is the eyes and ears for the readers when it comes to this world. We do not completely understand what has happened on Godspeed just like Amy so her reactions and questions may remind us of how we would be in that situation. Amy has found herself in a difficult situation and reacts to it in a very realistic fashion. She is understandably upset, but does not get bogged down in feeling sorry for herself. I really admired Amy's determination to follow her parents onto Godspeed and to do everything she could to keep them safe afterwards.
While I enjoyed reading about Amy, Elder was definitely my favorite of the book. Elder is the heir to the leadership of the spaceship. Every generation there is a child who is born a few years older than the others who is known as Eldest and acts as the head of the society. Elder's generation has not been born yet so he is currently learning from Eldest to become a valuable leader.
Elder is a very mysterious and complex character which I would imagine is difficult to do when the book is written in alternate povs. I read a review of this book (see below) that described him as an onion with layers and I believe that is a perfect description. There is so much to learn about Elder and by the end of the book, there is still alot to figure out.
What I really enjoyed about Elder's personality was how sweet and caring he was about everyone. He truly wants to be a good leader to his people and it shows in how he interacts with his friends and Amy. While he does have his 'teenage boy' moments, Elder seems to be a mature and compassionate character. I also liked how Elder was not afraid to admit his feelings for Amy to himself though he was a little hesitant around her. I look forward to learning more about Elder as I have a feeling that his journey will be the catalyst for the whole series. Highly recommended!!
5 OUT OF 5 STARS
“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 others that they may have the strength to stand on their own.”
Book Depository Page
All About Romance Review
Elder as "My Book Boyfriend"