Sunday, January 30, 2011

review : across the universe

across the universe, beth revis (penguin)

please note, this review may contain some spoilers.

across the universe opens to the main character, amy, watching as her mother is painfully cryogenically frozen, then her father, and then she must decide whether to go through this process herself, knowing that if she does she'll not wake for 300 years. and when she does wake, it will be on a new planet and her parents will be partially responsible for building a new civilisation there. realistic and horrifying, it's an excellent first chapter, totally designed to suck a reader in - and very successful too.

the reading copy's blurb, designed to get booksellers and the like excited, says: "TITANIC meets AVATAR - a global publishing sensation...first in a three-part series that taps into two MAJOR entertainment trends: romance and space..."*

the rest of the book is a solid and fairly enjoyable read, with chapters alternating between amy (initially her chapters are dream-like musings until she is rudely awakened) and then 'elder', a young man (the same age as amy) being groomed to take over the running of the spaceship 'godspeed'. the colony that has evolved on the 'godspeed' are a mostly homogenous and dependable people who go about their daily chores without question. there are some, however, who are less content, who are different and quirky. these people are deemed troubled, or crazy and spend their time in the hospital wing. it doesn't take the reader very long to realise there's something a bit iffy going on. the mystery and secrets sucked me in and i found it the most satisfying part of the story.

what disappointed me was that neither of the main protagonists is actually very interesting. elder was a typical teenager, thinking with his willy instead of pursuing his job of learning about the past or doing anything interesting besides moping and fighting with eldest (the head honcho, instantly vair suss), and while amy was a curious girl, she was also naive and slightly frustrating. it also creeped me out how she called her father 'daddy' all the time. and are all girls redheaded in books these days?

it would have been useful to know what exactly was happening on earth to have made this project necessary, it's not discussed (because elder didn't bother to do his research into it the reader suffers from his ignorance). from what is described, it sounds like amy left a perfectly nice life behind - albeit it would have been without her parents - and it makes me wonder why on earth she would do it?

it was a satisfying read in the end and though i feel the writing lacked oomph in a way, across the universe touches on some interesting issues and i would like to know what happens next.

here's the contentious new cover i talked about the other day, with the edited face:

*oh how did i laugh! romance and space! bahahaha!


  1. Paranormal romance. How original. And interesting.
    Oh well, one day, it, like every other trend, will pass ...

  2. sigh. i know. but the good thing is i can see it passing, my customers are demanding beautiful writing and real-life stories about friendship and pets and sometimes even sport. it's lovely.

  3. (and they also want good quality fantasy and intricate sci-fi too)


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