I’ve finally caught onto the awesomeness that is Beth Revis. I’m way behind on this one, I know, but I have at last read Across the Universe, the first of a trilogy (the second part is out already, the final chapter is published in May). It’s set on Godspeed, a spaceship destined for a new world. On board are Amy and her parents, part of the mission to colonise another planet. They are frozen, to preserve their skills during the three hundred year voyage. Both Amy’s parents are essential to the programme, Amy not so much. Someone on board has decided Amy is rather non-essential. After hundreds of years of suspended animation Amy is brutally ripped from her dreamlike state when she is set to thaw. This is a murder attempt – left in her ‘Snow White coffin’ means death by drowning. Luckily help is near at hand in the form of Elder, future leader of the ship and fortuitously curious.
Amy has to decide whom to trust in the strange community that has developed on board. The crew has undergone some serious restructuring since the Plague many generations before. Society has become strictly stratified and controlled. Anybody not drone-like is housed in the hospital. Eldest rules over all, unquestioned and few traces of humanity. Elder should be his protégée but his education has been lacking. He fills in the gaps as best he can; Eldest’s neglect actually encourages independent thought in Elder. Elder is determined, along with Amy, to find the culprit taking lives in the hidden cryogenics area. Eldest is more concerned in circumscribing Amy’s actions and neutralising her influence. Things are not as they seem, and they are actually much much worse.
I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to read this story. It is so good. I love the beginning describing the freezing process Amy and her family undergo. It is painful and scary; it made me wince a little. Then we’re whisked straight onto the ship and the power dynamic between Elder and Eldest. The viewpoint changes throughout the book between Amy and Elder, which I liked. They have such different experiences and worldviews that it works very well. The story unfolds through the two narratives, as they tentatively work together to seek out the truth about the attempted de-icing. There is some chemistry between them, that’s for sure. It flows both ways, but there is also some mistrust and hesitation. Amy needs someone she can rely on, and Elder seems like the best bet.
The more digging they do, the stranger things on-board seem. Having someone voice a different opinion pushes Elder to question the most fundamental things about his life. Across the Universe talks about the ways in which power is yielded, who benefits from the choices made, and whether the ends justify the means. It also raises questions about free will, the sanctity of life, and knowledge. I don’t want to say too much more, because it’s much more satisfying to let the plot do the talking, and I wouldn’t want to be all spoilery! There’s plenty to mull over in this story, as well as it actually being an exciting sci-fi adventure.