Friday, 25 February 2011

Book Review & Giveaway: Across the Universe by Beth Revis.

Product details:
Publisher: Puffin.
Paperback, 398 pages.
Release date: March 3rd 2011.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
Ages: 12+
Source: Received from publisher for review.

A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

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.

Before reading this review, you should know that I am not a fan of sci-fi in any form. In fact, I actually have a note about it in my review policy. So, even with all the hype surrounding this book, I wasn’t sure if it would be the one for me. Then I read the first chapter, which I found gripping and terrifying in equal measures, and was totally sold! In Across the Universe, Beth Revis employs evocative world building to create a truly terrifying future society which will leave you feeling claustrophobic and unsettled. Best of all, you don’t have to be a sci-fi fan to enjoy this one. Across the Universe contains dystopian elements and murder mystery which will keep even those hard-to-please readers entertained.

As Across the Universe opens, we are introduced to Amy and her parents who have signed up to be cryogenically frozen and transported three hundred years into the future. The way in which Revis describes the freezing process is meticulous and entirely fascinating. I could feel what Amy and her parents were feeling as they underwent the process, and I found the whole thing truly terrifying. For me, the first chapter of this book was one of the best I’ve read – it will suck readers in and get them immediately invested in the story and the characters. I read the first chapter a couple of months ago when it was released online, and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. Unfortunately, for me, what happened next was a little disappointing.

The focus now switches to Elder, a sixteen year old boy on board the vast spaceship, Godspeed. Elder is a leader-in-waiting on board the very ship that Amy and her parents are now frozen cargo on. We have shifted 250 years into the future, when Amy is suddenly unplugged, unfrozen, and brought back to life. In essence, somebody has tried to murder Amy, and now the race is on to find out who that murderer is before he strikes again. Amy must adjust to her new life, while all the while protecting her still-frozen parents, and figuring out who she can trust in this strange new environment, where everybody looks the same and nobody betrays the orders of the dictatorial leader, Eldest.

As I’m writing this, I’m thinking that the story sounds pretty fast-moving and exciting, but in reality I found this one very slow to get going. The book is told in a dual narrative between Amy and Elder, and while this is a style that I sometimes enjoy, as it usually enables me to connect with characters, here it left me feeling a little detached from them. I felt that the story was a little disjointed in places due to the dual narrative. I also felt a little let down by the promised romance here. While it’s not always necessary, I am a fan of a romantic interest in books, and here, I didn’t find one. While the themes explored in this book are often mature, the  romance between Amy and Elder never really takes off. I felt as though the characters never really got comfortable with themselves or with each other.

As for those mature themes in this book, Revis does not hold back. First of all, the subject of leadership and how it can be abused with devastating effects is explored. I found this and the exploration of leadership through time pretty fascinating. When you discover that Eldest admires Adolf Hitler as a leader, then you know there’s trouble ahead! Then, there’s the subject of sex. The mating season! Dude! Those scenes were Wild! There’s also an attempted rape here and the subject of incest is raised, as all the people on Godspeed are Monoethnic. That leads us to the subject of race, which is also a theme explored here, and an interesting one at that.

While this book was well written, and is a strong debut, I can’t say that I loved it. There were certainly parts I enjoyed, and it contains some good plot twists, but overall the characters didn’t work for me, I found the outcome of the murder mystery a little too predictable, and the ending left me unsatisfied. But on the upside, I think a lot of people will really enjoy this one. I also think that this is a book that will really appeal to a male readership. There are a lot of alpha males in this one, no soppy romance, a spaceship setting and plenty of action towards the end of the book, so if you have a guy in your life that’s a reluctant reader, this could be the book to get him interested!


Thanks to those lovely people at Puffin, I have a copy of Across The Universe up for grabs!
To be in with a chance to win, just fill in the form below.
Please note: This competition is UK ONLY - Publishers request.

Competition Closed - Winner Announced Soon!


  1. THANK YOU!!!
    I love seeing UK giveaways!

  2. Great review! I bought this book simply because I was so curious to find out what was so great about it. I haven't read it yet. But I am sorry to read that it's a bit slow to get going.

  3. This is the first sci-fi book I have read but I really enjoyed it. I agree this is a book that would appeal to guys but I think it's pretty cover will put them off. Great review :)

  4. I like the book but had the gripe with the constant POV changes. For me it just didn't flow well. Nice review.

  5. @Nic - Oooh yeah, I didn't think of the pretty cover being offputting for boys. The US cover is reversible, though. Maybe that's the reason why.

    @Savy - Yeah, totally agree. The dual narrative had the same effect on me.

  6. Awwww... Sorry you didn't like it all that much! I picked it up the other day from the library and devoured it within a couple of hours- I loved it. But to each their own!

  7. Yay! A UK giveaway :D I love sci-fi books and am really looking forward to reading this one. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it as much as some. But, we can't all enjoy the same stuff.

  8. I felt very much the same way on this one Leanna! After the freezing, I was a little bored for about 60 pages until she finally woke up and got to explore the world on the Godspeed. And I think if the romance hadn't been marketed as much, I wouldn't have been disappointed in it because I wouldn't have been expecting it. Lovely review!

  9. I'm sorry you didn't love this one. I was definitely hooked after the first chapter as well. It was definitely one of the most addicting first chapters that I have read in a long time. I am a bit of a secret sci-fi nerd so I think that's why I maybe enjoyed it, but it took me awhile to really get back into the book after that first chapter. I thought the ending was crazy though. Great review!!

  10. Fabulous review, Leanna, and I quite agree with you on this. I thought it was really well-written, but I had a hard time getting into it, and I felt the characters lacked in comparison to the plot. :)

  11. I actually began this book and after the first chapter ended up putting it down with the intention to get back to it again. While I agree that the freezing process was vividly described, the pace was too slow for me. I think if I were to actually read the entire book my feeling might be very similar to yours, and I actually do like some sci-fi. Thanks for your thoughts on this one.

  12. I loved this book. I liked the switching POV's. Usually I don't in box, but I thought it worked in Across the Universe. I thought the mating season was craaaazy! I was shocked. I'm not a prude but I was rather embarrassed. LOL I'm looking forward to the second book. Thanks for the giveaway! I received an ARC, but would love a copy of my own. Have a great weekend :)

  13. Oh...shoot! UK only. Oh well...

  14. Kudos for stepping out of your comfort zone and reading some sci-fi! I can't wait to give this book a shot myself!

  15. I don't read much sci-fi either (unless it's Scott Westerfeld) but got a copy of this one since it seemed to be so hyped. I haven't read it yet so it's too bad it starts off slow though the themes you've mentioned seem like they're well dealt with.

  16. thanks, great giveaway and in the UK too :D

  17. See I didn't find it slow at all, I sped through it but Linz thought the same as you and it took her a while to get into it. Personally I LOVED it and can't wait for the next book!

  18. Great review & giveaway. Thanks :D

  19. Hey I can't remember if I've entered your awesome contest =[ If you could find out for me I'd love you forever lol


  20. Sounds like such an interesting book - great review and giveaway!


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