Thursday, May 19, 2016

Audiobook Review: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Title: Across the Universe (Across the Universe #1) 
Author: Beth Revis
Narrators: Lauren Ambrose & Carlos Santos
Publication Date: January 11, 2011
Publisher: Razorbill
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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.

Recently the topic of books read on a whim came up in a top ten post and this one really should have made the list. I've seen this book around a lot, but it really came onto the scene long before I started reading young adult fiction regularly. I decided to give it a try when I saw the audiobook at my library after quickly skimming the Goodreads reviews and finding that most people seem to love it! Unfortunately... I'm not among those who thought it was incredible so this review will be pretty short and to the point.

The premise of Across the Universe is really interesting! There's tons of potential here! Amy was frozen and taken as cargo on a spaceship in order to start a new civilization on a new planet in a few hundred years. But then she wakes up and nothing is as it should be. In fact, everything is so, so wrong that Amy has no idea how to handle it, but quickly learns that she has no other choice. Amy is an okay heroine. I didn't feel strongly about her either way, but I didn't hate her, so I guess that's good?

Elder is the love interest in this book, because obviously there had to be one. (At least there's no love triangle though, right?) I did not care for him at all. Elder was a selfish, rude, naive character with no redeeming qualities. The romance between Elder and Amy was totally unconvincing, especially after the "big reveal" at the end.

The world was really interesting, sure, even if it didn't make much sense. There were rolling hills and cities with farms and fake rain on the spaceship, for whatever reason. I love the idea of an entire society existing on a spaceship! I loved picturing the world, as weird as it was. And I even love the thought of this crazy, dysfunctional, dystopian society. Somehow it just didn't all fit together well for me.

My big issues with this book (somewhat spoilery?):

  • If someone was cryogenically frozen, they would not be conscious. They would not be conscious for 300 years. Wtf. 
  • How does someone disappear... to a prominent position... in a closed environment... never to be found? This makes no sense. 
  • Why the heck would there need to be hormones added to the water to keep people from inbreeding? Have things changed so much in 300 years that people are into their siblings like that? 
  • If a ship engine malfunctions in space, the ship does not slow down. I'm not even into science and I know this. 
  • If someone is cloned, shouldn't they be able to figure out that they look like another person? How could it possibly be a huge revelation that you look just like someone else?? How could a character live their entire life without realizing they look just like other people??? 

When you put all these things together, my main issue is actually this: everything in Across the Universe is done for shock value. Everything. And I hate that. Sure, I love a good twist as good as the next person. But I like it to be relevant. I like big, shocking moments to have a point. Rape, for example. If there's no point to it, it does not need to exist.

As you can see, I didn't like this book much at all, although I didn't hate it. It was a really interesting concept, it was just badly executed. I kind of wish someone could redo this book, actually, with less shock value and better characters. I honestly cannot recommend this book unless maybe you're a fan of science fiction with the ability to overlook bad science and needless shock value.