“Across the Universe” – Does Space Offer a New Frontier For the YA Dystopian Novel?

Book Review : Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Spoiler Alert!

across the universeSeventeen-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. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

Across the Universe had some interesting ideas, however, there was a whole lot that didn’t work. To be positive first, the author did a good job of world building. Even though her basic premise, of a multi-generational spaceship to colonize another planet, was not entirely new it will seem new to many young adults because they will not have read most of the old sci-fi books. Another positive is that this is not a love triangle book!

My first problem with this novel was the title, I thought it was trite. The next problem was POV. Many current novels are alternating between two characters to tell a story and sometimes it works, but the voices need to be very distinct. I constantly had to check if it was Elder speaking or Amy because they sounded very similar. Another problem was the character of Eldest, his motivation wasn’t fleshed out and I could actually empathize (a little) with him that he was fighting for the survival of his people on the ship. Since Eldest is a dictator and compared to Hitler I don’t believe the author would want the reader to identify with him. As the secrets come out, Eldest is revealed to be despicable, without morals and basically a jerk. He does get his just rewards. Harley, who is a painter and considered to be insane is one of the most interesting characters. He is a deeply wounded and tortured man, yet retains his humanity. One of the biggest problems was the graphic descriptions of the “mating season”, where the drug induced population begins working on procreating for the next generation everywhere and anywhere. The characters are literally stepping over people while they are having sex. One couple barely even responds when Amy is nearly gang raped. Yikes! Finally, everything fits together very succinctly. The murderer is stopped, many people on the ship are ready to learn the truth, the society seems to be at peace, the frozens are safe and Amy isn’t even overly angry that she will never see her parents again. The one loose end is Luthe, there is no further mention of him after getting hit by Harley.

I don’t understand why such crass sexuality is put into ya novels. The author could be raising questions about mindless sex, but she isn’t. I definitely wouldn’t recommend this novel until the teens are older. Thankfully, my teen wasn’t even interested in reading this one because she thought it sounded cheesy.

2.5 out of 5 stars
2 1:2 star

– the Mother

About Tales Untangled

I am a mother of four children and have a passion for reading. I love sharing my treasury of books with my kids. I also do experiments in cooking which includes such things as Indian Tandoori Chicken slow-cooked in a tagine. I write stories and illustrate in ink.
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