Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Amy is a cryogenically frozen passenger aboard the spaceship Godspeed. She has left her boyfriend, friends and planet behind to join her parents as a member of Project Ark Ship.
Amy and her parents believe they will wake on a new planet, Centauri-Earth, three hundred years in the future. But fifty years before Godspeed’s scheduled landing, cryo-chamber 42 is mysteriously unplugged, and Amy is violently woken from her frozen slumber.
Someone tried to murder her.
Now Amy is caught inside a tiny world where nothing makes sense. Godspeed’s 2,312 passengers have forfeited all control to Eldest, a tyrannical and frightening leader. And Eldest’s rebellious teenage heir, is both fascinated with Amy and eager to discover whether he has what it takes to lead.
Amy desperately wants to trust Elder. But should she put her faith in a boy who has never seen life outside the ship’s cold metal walls? All Amy knows is that she and Elder must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets before whoever woke her tried to kill again.
Here’s the Scoop: Oh look out ’cause I’m about to go all Twilight Zone on yo azz.
Across the Universe took me back to those days before everyone owned every video/DVD/Blu Ray they wanted and before cable, satellite and DVRs. I’m talking about the days when you had about seven television channels to choose from, and only sometimes did they have something a kid would enjoy. Finding something like a Twilight Zone marathon was like hitting the jackpot. I could watch that show until it felt like my eyes were going to bleed (which would have been SO Twilight Zoneish. Ironic? I think not). But I digress.
This book is like a combination of Star Trek and The Twilight Zone. It has all the cool sci-fi stuff and sort of reminded me of the bizarro story I’ve been hearing for years about Walt Disney and his obsession with cryogenics (according to all the conspiracy theorists, he’s currently being kept under the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Why not a space age one like Space Mountain? I have no idea.). Even if it’s totally false, it’s such a fun story. I mean FROZEN. Hoping to be brought back to life later. Being kept under the pirate ride in Anaheim that inspired the Johnny Depp movie. It’s crazypants, but in an insane-bordering-on-genius sort of way.
So where was I? Twilight Zone, Walt Disney…Across the Universe.
Amy and her parents are cryogenically frozen (and let me warn you now. Those are some painful, painful chapters. Ms. Revis is wonderfully imaginative and descriptive about the process of being frozen and it ain’t pretty–but it’s so compelling). The plan is to wake up 300 years in the future as part of the exploration of a new planet, Centauri-Earth. The problem is that when Amy is suddenly and violently awakened by some unknown person, the ship is 50 years from landing. Amy is without family or friends and the fiercely controlling leader of the ship will not let Amy unfreeze her parents because they are considered essential to the group’s survival on the new planet. Now Amy has to wait 50 years to see her mom and dad again and she must assimilate to life on this strange ship. She’s befriended by Elder, the only boy her age. He’s next in line to command the ship but Elder is torn by his attraction to Amy and his devotion to his leader, Eldest, the closest thing he’s ever had to a father.
Slowly, secrets about the Godspeed are unraveled. The ship’s occupants are strange.
No, they don’t have crazy deformed snouts or anything. They’re just detached—almost robotic. They aren’t allowed to question authority, they have no mind of their own and they don’t seem to care that they have no freedom or say in their lives. The only history they know–the history of the Earth they’ve never experienced—is made up of lies perpetuated by their leaders throughout the generations. Even more odd, all the races have all been mixed together to create one master race in an effort to remove differences in people (they all have olive skin, dark hair, dark eyes). This, they have been taught, is what keeps harmony between people.
Amy comes along with her pasty skin and flame-red hair, looking and acting dramatically different from everyone else and it immediately puts her at risk. She isn’t sure who to trust, because as much as she wants to rely on Elder, he seems so loyal to Eldest and so satisfied with the idea of being the next leader of Godspeed. Amy is determined to find her would-be murderer and to protect her parents and the other frozens, with or without Elder’s help.
I loved this book because in addition to being a dystopian story set in mother cussing outer space, it’s also a murder mystery. And there’s just a whole lot of weird stuff happening—like people going into heat and doing the humpity bumpity like, on the walkway, as you’re trying to take a nice little jog (it’s shocking and gross and the total opposite of swoonworthy, but it was so bizarre I couldn’t stop reading) Or like how all the old people go to the fourth floor of the hospital and never come back. Let me spoil it for you: they aren’t at some Senior Bingo night.
The story is told from the alternating perspectives of Elder and Amy. It is well-written and interesting. I was so completely engrossed because it had a perfect combination of mystery and suspense along with science fiction. It took some time for the plot to get going, but once it did I was hooked.
Across the Universe is part of a trilogy (there are no release dates as of yet, but according to the author’s website the next one is called A Million Suns which of course, reminds me of this episode of the Twilight Zone that was all about the earth being too close to the sun), but it still feels like a complete story unto itself.
Crush Intensity: 5/5 Despite the lack of swoon (let’s face it. I usually need some romance to get me through), I loved this book. It was so different and creative.
Soundtrack: Was there ever really a choice?
I take three steps behind me, almost stumble, turn around, and race away faster than I’ve ever run. This is not my measured run from before. I am not pacing myself, counting my breaths, conscious of my strides. I race like a monster is chasing me; I race as if they were chasing me. I cannot go fast enough. I tear through the tall grass of the fields, the thin blades slicing my skin like paper cuts. I break corn stalks as I pound through the field.
I run and run.
Past the hospital, through the garden, past a pond.
And to the cold metal wall.
I stop, gulping the air, my heart racing in my ears. I reach up with one hand and touch the wall. My fingers curl into a fist, but it falls weakly to my side.
And that’s when I realize the most important truth of life on this ship.
There is nowhere to run.