Book Review: Across The Universe

Across the UniverseI read this after someone posted on Goodreads about it maybe being similar to TLODB. I kind-of felt like I had to read it, but now I have I’m glad I did.

I definitely opened the book with more than a little trepidation and fear that I might have committed a vast but accidental form of plagiarism, but my fears were quickly assuaged. Even though the setting of the book is definitely similar (a spaceship with a population of a couple of thousand on a several hundred years long space mission), the plot, atmosphere, characterization and themes are actually very different.

The Godspeed is on its way to an Earth-like planet in order to set up a colony, and the story is told from the dual perspectives of Amy and Elder. Amy was brought aboard with her scientist parents, cryogenically frozen, but defrosted early in a mysterious mishap. Elder is the leader-in-training of the on-board population, an agrarian civilization under the control of the unpredictable Eldest.

Beth Revis does a great job of world-building; the Godspeed and its civilization and cast of characters very quickly come to life, as do the more sinister aspects of the necessary adjustments that have had to be made over the course of their journey.

One thing I particularly loved was the truly visceral depiction of the cryogenics – both Amy’s freezing, her experience of being frozen and her defrost had the dark quality of a particularly vivid nightmare or horror film, and actually put me in mind of a Stephen King short story I read a long time ago and was too appalled by to ever forget.

While TLODB combines the genres of sci-fi and love story, Across the Universe combines sci-fi with crime, in that there is a case in need of solving at the core of the story. I think this is a combination that works well and makes for a page-turning read. The love story was only a sub-plot at this point but it is definitely being lined up for further development as the series continues. I’m definitely going to have to read the next to find out.

BTW I know I’m pretty late to the party on this one, but I’m sure glad I finally turned up.