Sunday, August 21, 2011

Across the Universe Book Review

Author: Beth Revis. Release date: 2011. Publisher:  Razorbill. ISBN: 9781595143976.
Annotation:  Amy and her parents volunteer to be cryogenically frozen for centuries in order to become the first settlers on a new planet: Centauri-Earth. But when Amy is awoken 50 years too soon, she discovers that the everything on the ship that is supposed to be carrying them to their new home is not what it seems.    
Personal thoughts:  I really enjoyed this book from start to finish! It's a story that you know is going to good from the first chapter. Maybe it's because I am a sci-fi fan and also a fan of dystopian novels. Maybe it's because it's simply an excellentally written story. Either way, I am very excited for this new trilogy!

Plot summary: Sixteen-year-old Amy and her parents, a genetic specialist and a military tactician, volunteer to be cryogenically frozen for three hundred years and shot into space towards a new planet, Centauri-Earth, upon which they will start a new society. After being frozen, Amy’s body is encased in a coffin of ice, but her mind continues to work, locking her in a terrible nightmare for centuries. Unsure of how much time has passed, Amy suddenly begins to feel warmth and realizes that her glass coffin is melting. When she wakes up, she meets sixteen-year-old Elder, the future leader of the ship, and learns, to her horror, that she has been unfrozen fifty years before the ship lands. Amy is crushed that she cannot see her parents, but begins to explore the Godspeed, the ship on which she has been travelling for the past two hundred and fifty years. The inhabitants of the ship are as strange to Amy as she is to them: the Godspeed’s residents, including Elder, are all monoethnic, and Amy’s red hair and pale, freckled skin give her a freakish appearance. To make matters worse, most of the people on the ship appear to be in some sort of stupor: blindly following everything the current leader, Eldest, tells them. But as Amy and Elder get to know each other and Amy learns more about the Godspeed, she begins to wonder if the ship is as peaceful and harmonious as Eldest claims.

Blueprint of the Godspeed

Review:  This sometimes creepy but thrilling story combines science fiction, mystery and romance in an utterly original novel that will appeal as much to adult readers as teens. One of the strongest elements of the story showing Revis’ literary prowess is her ability to develop multi-layered characters that the reader cares about almost immediately. The story is told by both Amy and Elder in alternating chapters, giving each of them a distinct voice and equal presence in the story. The supporting characters of Eldest, Harley, Orion and the ship’s Doctor are equally as interesting as the protagonists, as are the descriptions of the Godspeed which, in many ways, is another character in the novel. Revis does an excellent job of combining the dystopian elements of H.G. Wells’ Time Machine, the sci-fi elements of TV’s Battlestar Galactica and modern debates about genetic engineering and manipulation. The resulting story is sophisticated, intriguing and makes for a wonderful page-turner that keeps the reader guessing until the final moments. Revis has announced that Across the Universe is the first installment in a trilogy, and the fact that it is her debut novel makes her literary accomplishment all the more impressive. Overall, and outstanding novel equally enjoyable for adults and teens
Genre: Science-fiction/Mystery
Reading level: Grade 8+

Similar titles: A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan is VERY similar. Other dystopian future novels such as Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, Divergent by Veronica Roth, etc.
Themes:  Space travel, dystopian future, control/oppression, mystery.   
Awards/Reviews:  On Amazon Best Books of the Month list for January 2011, positive reviews from School Library Journal and Booklist, New York Times bestseller.
Series Information: First novel in Across the Universe trilogy. Visit website for more info:

Discussion Questions:

- Would you be willing to do what Amy did to stay with her parents?

- What are your impressions of life on the Godspeed? Would you want to live on the ship?

- Do you think Eldest is a good leader? Why or why not?

- How would you describe the inhabitants of the Godspeed?  Docile? Complacent? Oppressed? Happy?


  1. I just finished this book tonight!! Amazing book. I do this thing I call musing (music+reading) so I basically gave this story a soundtrack. I used songs from 30 seconds to mars and Muse. Cant wait for A Million Suns!!