Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Summary: Amy’s not exactly happy about being cry0genically frozen for 300 years as she and her parents are sent across the universe to a new planet, and she’s not exactly happy about being woken up out of her cryogenic slumber before them. Aboard the ship it’s a whole different world. One of the first of the ship’s citizens she encounters is Elder, who is poised to become the ship’s leader. Amy learns that after a Plague devastated the ship’s population, a new rule emerged, led by the Eldest, where people are monoethnic drones whose every action and emotion is influenced by the hormones in the water. Elder has never even seen a person with red hair and pale skin like Amy’s. Amy is promptly labelled as crazy and sent to the Hospital. Elder, seeing Eldest’s reaction to Amy’s presence, begins to question everything Eldest has taught him.
The Name Game
Amy – standard Earth girl name
Elder – a bit strange, considering he’s, like, 18, and the youngest person aboard the ship
Eldest – the dictatorial ruler of Godspeed
Orion – trust me, he’s important.
Harley – an artistic (mental) Hospital patient. As the only other person on the ship with a normal name, you know Amy’s going to bond with him. (Oh yeah, and he’s not really crazy).
I wished there had been a little more chemistry between Elder and Amy – it’s clear that they are attracted to each other, but as they are the only ones on the ship between the ages of 0 and 25 I feel like Amy is only drawn to Elder because he’s the only non-adult. I’ll be interested to see what develops in A Million Suns.
The book is clean of language (unless you count “shite”), but there is a scene where Amy is nearly raped, during “The Season,” which is the mating time for all of the ship’s residents and involves a lot of “rutting on the streets” – a phrase which was used more than once and seemed odd for a teenage girl to use.
What I Learned From This Book
1. Cryogenic Freezing Is Bad
It sounds disgusting, all that cold gel being poured all over, then basically drowning in it for 300 years. The involuntary dreaming for 300 years doesn’t sound any better. And the waking up 300 years in the future, into an inbred society controlled by hormones in the water and led by a crazy person who declares that you are crazy, doesn’t sound much better.
2. Technology Advances Fast, but Tyrannical Dictators Stay the Same
Somehow, in the 300 years aboard the ship, the people have managed to create wonderful new computers that are totally foreign to Amy when she wakes up. Not sure how they engineered and built these things with the materials that would have been commonplace for Amy. And yet Eldest has no problem will fueling his spaceship with lies! (This is the tagline on the front cover, BTW: “What does it take to survive aboard a spaceship fueled by lies?”). How else will he stop the ship’s population from inbreeding and inciting mutiny?
With the alternating chapters between Amy and Elder, the plot raced as each of them discovered how little they knew about world around them. It was interesting to see this world from both the standpoint of someone who has lived there his whole life and is discovering that all he knows is wrong, and someone new to this world discovering all of its flaws. If you don’t stop to think too hard, it’s a fun, fast read.