I had read a lot about this book even before it was released. The blogosphere was abuzz with the news of a debut novel sure to scorch the bestseller lists. I also read the first chapter and was intrigued enough to want to read more.
As it happens, the book slipped out of my mind in the following months. But thankfully I have my trusty library at hand! They keep slotting the books in the shelves in such a way that the most interesting titles jump right out at me.
On that particular day, I bagged a handful of good ones – Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman, The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, and Across the Universe.
I finished reading Across the Universe last night and I have to say I was zapped. It was awesome!
The brief synopsis, from the book’s website, is this:
Amy is a cryogenically frozen passenger aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed. She expects to wake up on a new planet, 300 years in the future. But fifty years before Godspeed’s scheduled landing, Amy’s cryo chamber is unplugged, and she is nearly killed.
Now, Amy is caught inside an enclosed world where nothing makes sense. Godspeed’s passengers have forfeited all control to Eldest, a tyrannical and frightening leader, and Elder, his rebellious and brilliant teenage heir.
Amy desperately wants to trust Elder. But should she? All she knows is that she must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets before whoever woke her tries to kill again.
I really liked how every chapter was narrated alternately by Amy and Elder. I have used a similar device in my novel Mabel, so this book had a lot to teach me.
Amy is a nicely written character – a fiercely independent woman who questions and challenges everything that is told to her and accepted as a matter of course by the people on the ship.
I liked Elder too, though he is seemingly less fleshed out. His mental turmoil about how he will manage the ship really comes to the fore and I totally identified with the conundrums he faced.
Though the book focuses on Amy and Elder, the character of Eldest is appealing too. Eldest is the current leader of the ship, from whom Elder is slated to take over. Eldest is almost dictatorial, and not very nice to Elder or Amy, but gradually we discover the reasons for his particular brand of leadership.
The spaceship and other aspects of the book set it firmly in sci-fi territory, but it embraces the genres of dystopia, murder mystery, romance and so easily could’ve been a Twilight-type YA but mercifully it avoids that angle.
The sequel to this book, A Million Suns, is on sale now. I look forward to reading it too. This promises to be an exciting trilogy to read!
Some other reviews of this book online:
What new books have you read lately?