After years of telling my husband how wonderful young adult novels are, I finally convinced him to read one. He's a gamer, not a reader, but I managed to lure him in with the promise of science fiction and a storyline I was certain he couldn't resist. Please welcome the man I lovingly call Professor Birdbrain, and his first ever book review.
Across the Universe (Across The Universe: Book One)
Written by Beth Revis
Published January 2011
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.
Amy's parents have been given the opportunity of a lifetime, to settle on a new world, in a new star system and travelling on Godspeed, a ship built specifically to make the journey three hundred Earth years away. Amy's mother is a bioengineer, while her father is a military specialist, both critical to the mission. Seventeen year old Amy is to join her family to settle on the new planet, known as Centauri Earth.
On Godspeed, the ship is governed by the Eldest, the oldest person of their generation who rules the ship in all affairs. Next in Godspeed's hierarchy is Elder, the first born of his or her generation and sees the Eldest as a mentor. This curious form of rule seems to work on it's surface, but harbours a deep, dark and deadly secret.
The precious cargo containing the new Centauri Earth inhabitants are cryogenically frozen, but Amy finds herself conscious during the journey, and is never really quite sure if she's dead or alive. She's woken from her slumber to a foreign world, compared to her life on Earth. The inhabitants of Godspeed are monoethnic, whilst Amy is a pale skinned redhaired freak, as far as the population of the ship is concerned, and trouble seems to follow wherever she goes.
But Godspeed is not what it seems, and as Amy and Elder develop a close friendship, both their lives may be in danger when they discover a hidden truth that threatens to tear the ship apart.
Professor Birdbrain's Thoughts
What captured my attention was humanity working together to settle a new star system in the future. The populace is surviving, but also excelling at a marvelous rate, technologically speaking. It's reflected by the gravity tube system, the wi com system which is described as a phone surgically inserted into your ear, and the level of genetic engineering taking place aboard Godspeed.
I also enjoyed the depth that the author put into each and every character critical to the story, completely immersing you into the storyline on board the ship. The story desperately needed a prologue. Personally, I needed to know why humanity as a whole would decide to leave the Solar System entirely. We could have easily colonised many moons, planets or even asteroids within the realm of the Solar System.
The story is a little slow in the earlier chapters, but as the storyline become more involved, it captured my attention completely. Explanations of how the technology works would also have been appreciated, but I'm hoping I'll find out more by reading the rest of the series.
Many of the characters are background absent, due to where the story begins with Amy being woken. Eldest is the leader of Godspeed, he's elusive, deceitful and the ultimate politician. I couldn't connect with his character, who came across as conniving, bitter and twisted. Elder, who will secede the rule of Eldest, will rise to absolute power aboard Godspeed, which is the birthright of all Elders. Told in dual points of view, Elder is one of the main characters. He's a likable sixteen year old, but as ship regulations depict, he or anyone else on board aren't allowed to know who their birth parents are. His upbringing was being moved from home to home every few months by Eldest, under the guise of gaining knowledge of all the ship's workings, from the feeder group, to the shipper families.
Harley is Elders best friend, resident artist and his character is draped in dark memories of his girlfriend Kaylee. Even being a psychiatric resident of the on board hospital, he's a character you will come to like as much as I did, being one of my favourite characters.
Amy is the focal point of the entire storyline, when she needs to unwind and contemplate, she runs. I found it incredibly annoying, as it's main focus was to divert attention to her inner monologue. Amy's uniqueness among the population seems to upset most of the Godspeed residents she encounters, but is key to unraveling the mysteries aboard the ship.
I thoroughly recommend this book to all readers who love adventure, space or science fiction. This is the first book I have read in at least five years and I'm completely hooked on this series now. One of the best releases in the science fiction genre and have already begun to read A Million Suns.