What I’m Reading: ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis

What a ride! This story was jam-packed with twists and turns and it does not disappoint.

Summary from the inside jacket:

Amy is a cryogenically frozen passenger aboard the spaceship Godspeed…Amy and her parents believe they will wake on a new planet, Centauri-Earth, three hundred years in the future. But fifty years before Godspeed‘s scheduled landing…Amy is violently woken from her frozen slumber. Someone tried to murder her.

Now, Amy is caught inside a tiny world where nothing makes sense. Godspeed‘s 2,312 passengers have forfeited all control to Eldest, a tyrannical and frightening leader. And Edler, Eldest’s rebellious teenage heir, is both fascinated with Amy and eager to discover whether he has what it takes to lead. Amy desperately wants to trust Elder. But should she put her faith in a boy who has never seen life outside the ship’s cold metal walls? All Amy knows is that she and Elder must race to unlock Godspeed‘s hidden secrets before whoever woke her tries to kill again.

The inside jacket reads like a sci-fi novel (which it is), and the cover looks like there will be a romance theme (which there barely is), but what becomes quickly obvious while reading this novel is that Revis has crafted an eerie, dystopian tale… One that tells us an awful lot about humanity, resilience and the power of free will.

This book is a quick read, and putting it down to say, go to work, or sleep, proved difficult. There are numerous plot twists and the murder mystery element keeps things interesting, but it’s the quieter things, happening in the background of this book, that I found the most powerful. Because Eldest has “done what he must” to keep his people alive, the residents of Godspeed are living in an extremely controlled and regulated world. Revis brings up some wonderful questions for her readers to think about as they race with alongside Amy and Elder to find the murder. What makes a person normal or sane? How important is individual thought? Should race define us? Should genes? What freedoms, if any, are worth sacrificing for a cause?

I loved Amy’s character. She is strong and determined. She is proactive. She is also the catalyst for change aboard the ship, mostly because she is the one person who knows or remembers life a different way. Which brings about another thought that lingers in the readers mind: If we cannot remember the past, we are doomed to repeat it. And this certainly comes into play, when Amy discovers that Elder’s knowledge of American history is convoluted and twisted, at best. Amy is believable and her predicament downright tragic. As the book goes on, her situation grows heavier and more dismal and like Amy, the reader begins to feel the overwhelming sense of helplessness and despair. This is handled wonderfully. I also thought the book had a great cast of secondary characters. Example: Harley. He was captivating and charming, and while his motives/actions were believable, they are also painfully poetic.

***minor spoilers ahead***

But man, this ending. And I’m not talking about the surprise twists or ultimate climax, I’m talking about the literal ending. I’m talking about the ending as a whole, the feeling when you close the book, the way things are left hanging. I’ve read a lot of reviews that said they felt it was abrupt, or left too much answered. But let me tell you, I loved it. It was perfect. I’m almost upset this is a trilogy because this story was so complete for me I don’t need any more. That’s not to say I won’t read the others. I totally will. This was too good not to.

I’ll go back to what I said at the very beginning. This is a dystopia. It was never about a romance, or what happens on Centauri-Earth, or how Elder will rule. It was about a broken society, trapped on a ship, and a need for change. And Revis gives us that. We may be unclear as to the details regarding it, or how it will transpire, but we know that it’s coming, and we know that Amy and Elder will be at the heart of that transition. Revis also leaves us with Amy, who’s predicament is no better than it was when she first awoke. If anything, it is worse. Life rarely unfolds as we envision it. Sometimes one small event can effect all that follow, and Revis makes this so painstakingly clear. And then, Revis closes this tale with an action that is so crucial to life and recovery, to change and to hope. This story ends with forgiveness. And even with all the other answers left up to the reader’s imagination, even with some of the strings left untied, floating in space, that act of forgiveness, for me, was more than enough.

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