Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Book Recommendation: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Before you write off Across the Universe, by Beth Revis, due to its romantic-looking cover, read the first chapter. It describes in excruciating detail how Amy Martin’s parents, and then Amy herself, are prepared to be cryogenically frozen for their 300-year journey on the spaceship Godspeed, to a newly discovered planet, Centauri-Earth. Ask yourself: could you subject yourself to such a painful and claustrophobic experience to stay with the ones you love? I couldn’t help but stick around to see the results.

On the future Godspeed is Elder, next in line to replace the ship’s tyrannical leader, simply known as Eldest. On a learning assignment, Elder discovers old blueprints revealing a previously unknown lower level of the ship—the cryo level, where Amy and her parents, not to mention hundreds of others, reside.

Here he finds Amy’s cryogenic box, partially removed from its drawer. He is instantly drawn to her pale skin and red hair, features no one else on the ship has, not after so many generations of cross- breeding. Ordered by a superior to put her back in the freezer and put her out of his mind, he later sees her again when someone else removes the box and unplugs her life support.

Someone tried to kill her, and neither Amy—saved from drowning but bereft of her parents, having been woken up fifty years too soon—nor Elder can figure out why. But what they also need to figure out is this: what secrets is Eldest keeping from them, and from everyone else on the ship, and why? And can Elder lead one day without being exactly like Eldest?

I liked the uniqueness of this story, and how it highlighted the challenge of creating harmony within a closed environment. Even if that environment appears to be several square miles, for Amy—and once he learns the reality behind his society, for Elder—it is too small, in more ways than one.

Yes, there is romance, but it’s not overly mushy. You may think you’ve figured out some obvious plot twists early on; what’s pleasantly surprising is realizing later you didn’t even know the half of it. Towards the end, these realizations come faster and faster, like waves onto the shore. A highly enjoyable read and, in my opinion, a great debut from Beth Revis.

Reviewed by Debra B. at CCL

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