Sunday, 27 February 2011

Review: Across the Universe - Beth Revis

Published: 22nd March 2011
Pages: 398 pages, ARC
Series?: Yes, this is the first installment
Acquired: Picked up at the Penguin Media Presentation

Summary (from Goodreads): A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

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.

My review: I’d heard from so many bloggers that the first chapter of Across the Universe is something special and I have to agree. It completely blew me away and made me sit up and pay serious attention to this debut novel. Revis’ ability to build tension is fantastic and her descriptions are beautiful and subtle.

I’m so impressed with this as a debut novel as it’s feels like the work of an accomplished author who has been writing in the genre for years. It’s clear that Revis has worked and worked at her writing to make it the absolute best it can be and I think Across the Universe is a cracking start to the series.

There is so much to take in while reading Across the Universe so it is one you need to concentrate on, rather than pick up and put down casually. The whole civilisation onboard Godspeed is complex, with its own rules and way of life. Life on Earth is rarely discussed and the details celebrated and remembered from history are all a bit skewed – Hitler is celebrated as a great leader who the Eldest on the ship should take great inspiration from. Oh my.

I liked the murder mystery element of the book as well – though I stopped paying too much attention to it after a few chapters as I was convinced I knew who the culprit was. Um, I was wrong. Completely wrong and I bet you will be too! It was a nice little twist at the end of the novel and I think it was revealed at the perfect time, I was really impressed with it as I definitely didn’t see it coming.

As far as characterisation goes, I was a big fan of Amy and Elder and thought both were great. I instantly liked Orion and think he’s a fantastic character (I would love to see him brought to life on the big screen) and, while Eldest was brilliantly well-rounded I can’t say I liked him at all as he was just a little bit creepy. However, I think Revis did really well with the main characters but I’d have liked to have seen just a few more secondary characters – aside from those I listed above we’re hardly introduced to anybody else who says more than a couple of lines so I hope the cast is expanded in the next two books.

Another slight grumble I had is that Elder and Amy, while I liked them, were prone to becoming a little bit emo at times, especially at the ends of the chapters. I do like a wistful last line every now and then but I have to say I think this was a little over the top. My case in point:

Elder: ‘And if I have been, I wonder if it was enough.’
Amy: ‘‘I’ll be okay,’ I say, but we both know I’m lying.’
Elder: ‘And in her smile I see something more beautiful than the stars.’
Amy: ‘Because sometimes the dreams of the new world turn into nightmares.’

I mean, the extracts I’ve posted above are pretty but every single random chapter I just flicked to had a random emo statement as the final sentence so by the end of the novel it was a bit much.

That said, I loved Across the Universe and am genuinely excited about the next book in the series. Unfortunately we have a lonnnnng time to wait. Sad face.

First line: Daddy said, ‘let Mom go first.’

Plot: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 3/5
Cover: 5/5
Total: 16/20 (B+)


  1. I read the first chapter when it was free online (possibly still is?), and I thought it was extremely gripping. I haven't read the book yet. I need to have a look for it :)

  2. I really enjoy this book. I wasn't so sure at first, but I ended up really enjoying it. Great review

  3. I can't wait to read this book. That is all :D

    Fab review :D

  4. I really enjoyed this book too - there were a lot of emo lines though, yes? I don't know that I had realized that until your review! One of the best debuts by far.


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