The third and final book in my dystopian review is Across the Universe by Beth Revis.
The book opens as Amy prepares to be cryogenically frozen, along with her parents and many others. They are set aboard a spaceship (aptly named Godspeed) bound for a planet that humans will inhabit. Amy and the others are expected to be thawed 300 years in the future when the ship reaches the planet.
Elder is aboard the ship, years after Amy and her parents have been put aboard. He is second-in-command, learning from Eldest how to one day run the ship. However, Eldest has been holding back information because of a rogue Elder from the previous generation. This doesn’t stop Elder, though, as he sneaks around the ship trying to find out as much information as possible. For the first time in his young life, he comes across the part of the ship where the frozen bodies are stored. He comes across Amy, though he doesn’t know her name, and he is instantly fascinated by her bright red hair (after generations aboard the ship, people have become ethnically monotonous).
Amy’s mind continues to be active as she sleeps, bringing up memories of life on Earth. She is unaware of how much time has passed, yet is conscious that her brain is being active when it shouldn’t be. At one point she starts hearing voices talking about the thawing process, right before she feels warmth. Someone is thawing her! Though complications arise, she makes it out alive, but only to find out that the reason she was thawed was to be killed.
Soon Amy and Elder meet and Amy tries to understand why society on the ship operates as it does. It’s vastly different from life on Earth. Not only are the people of one ethnicity (brown eyes, tan skin), they have limited knowledge of history, have sex in the fields during the Season (purely for procreation, though), and lock up the crazy (aka creative) people. Elder and the people aboard the ship know no different, but to Amy, it is a nightmare. She is anxious to get to the new planet and see her parents again, but as she and Elder later find out, the ship is still 100 years from its destination. Amy will long be dead before her parents are woken up.
That’s not all that Amy has to worry about, though. After all, someone tried to kill her. She needs to find out who and why. Elder continues to search out knowledge about the ship and he finds out secret after secret about how the society upon the ship is run and controlled.
The book was well-written, told from Amy and Elder’s points of view in alternating chapters. Each chapter was titled with the narrator’s name so it wasn’t confusing. The descriptions of the ship were so detailed that I had little trouble picturing something I’ve never seen. It wasn’t until I was done reading the e-book version of it that I looked at a hardcover copy at the bookstore. Apparently the cover’s reverse was a map of Godspeed.* I was delighted (after my initial reaction of frustration). Much of what I’d pictured about the ship’s layout was accurate. To me, that marks the sign of a talented writer.
Overall, the book had a great amount of conflict, both inner and physical. There was action, yet not so much that it was tiring and there was enough mystery and intrigue to keep me reading without ever feeling like I was working to get through it.
*I do no know yet if the paperback version will include a map of the ship (the paperback comes out in November). However, if you read the book and need or are curious about the map, visit the book’s official website here.