Guest Reviewer: Kai
Hi everyone. I’m really excited to see what Carolyn has in store for us for the Women of Science Fiction Event.
Statistically in the past, women haven’t been the predominant Authors or readers of the Science Fiction genre. Things however have changed rapidly. One of the most buzzed about books this year has been Across the Universe published by Razorbill, a division of Penguin Books. I was fortunate to get a copy of this book in January and was pleased to find the buzz was well deserved.
Space truly is the Final Frontier. In Amy’s world space colonization is a desperate option for families struggling on an Earth faced with overcrowding, dwindling resources and massive unemployment. Fortunate enough to have skills that are necessary for colonizing new worlds Amy’s father has secured passage for them all on a 300 year long voyage.
After her mother has been frozen Amy’s father offers her the chance to back out, to instead stay on Earth with his sister and her family. He then undergoes the cyro process leaving Amy with a choice. She chooses to join her parents and as the ice coldness seeps into her veins her mind remains unfettered dipping in and out of thoughts and dreams, but never warmth, just cold.
I was readily drawn into Beth’s narrative voice. Through Amy’s narration we quickly get a feel of the state of her world as well as its technology. The second chapter is narrated by Elder. With Elder we get the first glimpse of what life is like aboard the Godspeed, the ship carrying the colonists. Elder is the heir apparent of the ruling group of the Godspeed. He reports to Eldest the current leader. Elder is an apt pupil even though there is a stirring inside him, a questioning and even a streak of rebellion.
The Godspeed is a close knit community. Everything is orderly and tightly scheduled. Farming, Engineering and even artistic pursuits are encouraged albeit controlled. It is a different world almost reminiscent of a medieval castle with a working class reminiscent of peasants with Eldest being the true lord and master. This control is threatened when the unthinkable happens, Amy has been unplugged from her cyro freeze, and left to die. As she heals and acclimates to the life on board ship, more people are being unplugged from their cyro chambers. Unlike Amy however they are not rescued, in fact the timing is so deliberate it becomes apparent that there is a murderer on Godspeed and they are targeting necessary personnel to the Godspeeds voyage.
When Amy awakens and meets Elder there is an immediate connection between the two. Amy however is a strong threat to the well controlled life on the ship. She asks the wrong questions, confronts the wrong people and inspires a deep rebellion inside of Elder that will shake the foundations of shipboard life.
Though still rich in science fiction elements, once Amy and Elder get together the novel takes on the attributes of a really good mystery. Who released Amy from her cyro freeze? Why was she allowed to live while others are dying? What secrets is Eldest desperate to keep, no matter who or what he needs to destroy?
The mystery really keeps you interested in the Novel as Beth steadily releases clue and shocking revelations about the Godspeed’s mission. There is also a sweet, passionate romance building between Amy and Elder. I loved the dual narrative between the two, it’s interesting to read in their narrative how they see each other as their feelings grow. This is definitely a YA read but I did find a few choices the author made to be a little shocking but quite logical in the rigid controlling society that Eldest has created.
My favorite part of the novel is a slight twist that you wouldn’t see coming from the the book’s description. I won’t spoil it but let’s just say that it relates to diversity. There are a lot of requests from readers for more racial, sexual and alternative lifestyle characters in YA and Beth has made a brilliant choice in adding this element to the story. (If you look closely at the cover you might figure it out, but I doubt it!)
This book is the first in a series but the main mystery is completed in this volume as well as the opportunity for more stories. The only thing that stops this book from being a four star (8/10) read for me were the aforementioned shocking scenes but those are my personal reactions. This to me is the hallmark of a great writer, the ability to get a strong, opinioned response from their audience
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
- Across the Universe
- A Million Suns
- Shades of Earth
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