Review Blog

Mar 23 2011

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

cover image

Penguin, 2011. ISBN 9780141333663.
(Age 14+) Recommended. In this thought provoking science fiction book, the reader is taken on a trip aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed, as it goes in search of a new planet to colonise. Seventeen-year-old Amy leaves her life on earth behind and joins her parents, as part of the 100 specialists who are frozen and stored aboard the ship.  She expects to be woken up after a 300-year journey, but is traumatised when she is thawed too early and discovers that someone has tried to kill her. Not only that, but life aboard the ship is strange and frightening. Eldest, a Hitler-like dictator, leads the ship and is training a young man named Elder as his apprentice. The behaviour of the ship's inhabitants is passive and weird.
Told in alternative chapters by Amy and Elder, Revis builds up a fascinating picture of life aboard a spaceship and the dilemmas that face the people who live there. Interspersed is the mystery of who is trying to kill the people who have been frozen. Amy is an intelligent young woman and together with Elder and his friend Harley, set out to discover who is taking out the frozen bodies and leaving them to die.
At the same time Revis explores the morality of the ways that leaders have tried to keep people hopeful about their chances of survival and the use of drugs to keep them compliant. Elder is challenged by Amy's approach to people and what is happening on the ship. She is a strong independent young woman who is not intimidated by authority and who makes Elder look at his actions in a different light. The responsibility of leadership and the right of people to know the truth are explored.
Teenage girls will be attracted to this book because of its beautiful cover. The engaging characters, exciting plot and a touch of romance will keep them reading.
Pat Pledger

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