Across the Universe

Posted June 14, 2012 by Tara in Review /// 22 Comments

This looks like a movie poster more than a book cover.

Across the Universe 
by Beth Revis
Razorbill/Penguin Audio
Downloaded from Overdrive
[#43 in my 75 book challenge]

Sooo…I don’t know why I didn’t read this book sooner. I guess no one sold it to me right. Because it has all the makings of a good book and I didn’t even realize it. It is a well-written novel that crosses many genres. It’s got a dash of everything, including:

One Part Sci-Fi: The story takes place on the Godspeed, a ship traveling for 300 years from Earth to colonize a new planet (Centuri Earth). Seventeen-year-old Amy has been cryogenically frozen because her parents (also frozen) are important to the mission. The plan is for all the frozen people to be unfrozen upon arrival at the new planet 300 years in the future.

One Part Dystopia: Dystopia is technically a sub-genre of sci-fi, but it’s worth mentioning here. The thousand-ish monoethnic people living and working on the ship while it travels through space are ruled by Eldest, who has total power. Elder is the sixteen-year-old being groomed to be Eldest’s replacement one day. The society is very regimented, with specific generations born at specific times, pre-determined careers, and even a mating season.

One Part Mystery: Mysteriously, Amy is unfrozen 250 years into the journey. Why? How? By whom? That’s what she wants to find out. More people are found unfrozen, and it appears that someone is clearly trying to murder them. Amy trusts no one, and she wants to make sure her parents are safe. The main plot of the story is determining who the murderer is, and why this person is doing it. It’s a SPACESHIP FULL OF SECRETS.

One Part Romance: Elder is the only teenager on the ship, since he’s the Elder for his generation. Everyone else is either in their twenties (about to have kids, since it’s mating season), forties, or sixties. Lo and behold, a beautiful teenage girl has arrived. Cue hormones.

The story is told through the dual narration of Amy and Elder, which worked perfectly to show the POV for Amy, who the reader will identify with as a stranger to the place and time, and Elder, our expert on the ship. I loved being able to see Amy through Elder’s eyes and Elder through Amy’s eyes, as well as the ship through both of their eyes. I felt both characters were well-defined and believable. The feminist in me felt Amy was a strong equal to Elder, something I appreciate when it is done well. Of course, Across the Universe is book one in a trilogy, and the second book, A Million Suns, just came out this January. It’s going on my TBR list with book three, Shades of Earth, which comes out in January 2013.

FINAL GRADE:  A  It’s been a long time since I gave a book an A, but this one earned it because it was awesome and there were no major flaws. I was about to give up on audio books for a bit, but this story got really good around the halfway point. Really good. Almost-late-to-work-because-I-can’t-turn-off-my-car good. I definitely recommend it to fans of the above genres, especially fans of contemporary or romance looking to jump to a new genre! As for my library, I’m on the fence. 99% of the book is fine, but there is one scene that might make it inappropriate for a middle school (highlight the following white text for more info, includes spoilers): Amy is almost forced into sex against her will because the ship passengers are in mating season. Also, the audio is great! The dual narration worked well and kept my interest, and the actors were superb.


Tara is a PhD student studying education. Her dissertation will be on digital book communities as public pedagogy (ask her about it!), though she often takes a break from all of that to read books about oppressive governments and sassy teenagers. In a former life, she was a middle school teacher and middle school librarian. In her future life, she's a professor of YA lit. In her free time, she drinks a lot of coffee while planning her next grand adventure (there's always something).

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22 responses to “Across the Universe

  1. So glad you reviewed this, I was wondering what it was like. So great to hear reviews and then be excited to read something. Thanks! Gonna grab it!

  2. Dustin

    Based on your review, I borrowed the book from my library. I will follow up with a review when I am done.

  3. This sounds really, really interesting. Because of the title, I kept associating this book with weird things like the movie/Beatles song. I like how you broke down the different genres/aspects that comprise this book. Not sure how I feel about dual POVs in general, but from your review here, this definitely sounds like a book I should pick up!

    • Miss Anderson

      Do it! So worth it. If your public library has Overdrive, you might be able to find it there, too.

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