24 March 2011

Book Review Part Deux

Recently, I've had the chance to read (and by read, I mean devour), two incredibly awesome books by two amazingly talented writers, Ms. Leah Clifford and Ms. Beth Revis.

Today, I explain to you why you need to read Across the Universe. Again, I'm going to *try* to keep it spoiler-free.

I have heard AtU described as "claustrophobic" and after I read it, I understood exactly what that term meant in relation to the book. All of the action takes place on the spaceship Godspeed, which is on course to settle a new  Earth-like planet. From the general description, the book sounds like solid science fiction. But it's so much more than that. It's dystopian; it's a murder-mystery; it's a struggle for control, not just of the ship itself, but of emotional liberation, destiny, faith. It's...unforgettable. A book that remains lodged in your mind long after you read it. You'll be thinking about this one over and over again.

The first chapter is one of the most amazing first chapters I've ever read. I actually read it before I started A Touch Mortal because Lisa and Laura Roecker gushed over the first chapter alone. And after reading it, I understood why. It's so emotionally gripping--17-year-old Amy saying goodbye to her parents who are being frozen for the trip, her father giving her the choice to back out of the promise she made to join them--that you can't help but propel yourself through the rest of the book. Trust me, it was hard to put it down to read ATM.

AtU is told in 1st person present with two narrators: Amy, whose POV we depend on to understand the mission and the oddness of being aboard Godspeed, and Elder, whose POV we depend on to understand the ship's social structure and hierarchy. The two provide such interesting commentary on the ship, the social structure, and each other, allowing the reader to make their own decisions concerning how the ship is run. There's a massive ethical conundrum, but on a self-contained ship with 3000-ish people where strict discipline is actually a necessity, I had to ask myself whose side I'd be on--Amy's or Elder's. Amy wants emotional freedom, constantly telling Elder that the way people act is "unnatural." Elder, though, doesn't understand her meaning and even once he learns how the people are being subdued, he still isn't sure if what's happening is completely wrong.

The ethical issue is only the tip of the iceberg aboard a ship powered by lies, deceit, and betrayal. Imagine never knowing what a sunrise or sunset looks like. Never having seen the stars. Your life planned out for you. Imagine your entire purpose being to get the next generation to the new planet. That's what Elder has to contend with. And Amy... Amy was woken early. Her parents are still frozen. She has no one who understands her, who knows what Earth was like. She's totally alone, an oddity. Alienated. She only has Elder.

Worse yet, there's a murderer on the loose who's unfreezing the frozen passengers stored in the hull of the ship.  Amy takes it on herself to solve the murder, not only to bring herself peace of mind, but also to protect her still-frozen parents. Fascinated by her, Elder helps and together they discover secrets that they never expected, and one which will change everything they thought they knew.

You. Will. Love. This. Book.


Anonymous said...

Claustrophobic IS the perfect word...but not in a bad way, LOL! ;)

Beckah-Rah said...

I just got an early reviewer copy of that book, but I haven't read it yet. Gonna have to put it on the fast track on my reading shelf now. :)