Across the Universe

Beth Revis
Across the Universe Cover

Across the Universe by Beth Revis


Amy chose to go into cryogenic storage with her parents on the spaceship Godspeed, believing she'd wake up a hundred years later to help establish a new world. Instead, she wakes up early, to discover that society has drastically altered, with a dictatorial leader, Eldest, in charge of an unquestioning, monoethnic, monocultural populace.

Elder is Eldest's heir apparent, and one day will be the Godspeed's leader himself. Amy's appearance is unsettling to him. She both looks and acts differently from anyone else on the ship, and the events that follow her arrival force him to consider the ethics of Elder's decisions, and undermine his assumptions about leadership.

As I read Across the Universe I was reminded over and over of Lois Lowry's The Giver, a powerful story about a society where individual rights have been given up for the greater good. Rather than only presenting the point of view of Jonas, who has no frame of reference outside his own society, as Lowry does, Revis uses alternating points of view, with Amy and Elder playing off each other's unfamiliar ways of looking at the world, giving the reader a wider view. I find that I keep going back to this book to reread and rethink the ideas here. This is not only a book of ideas, though- there's a mystery, plenty of action, and even a whisper of romance. Amy and Elder are compelling characters, and secondary characters like Elder's friend Harley are interesting and well developed as well.

That said, recommend it with caution - elementary aged children who have read The Giver may not be ready for some of the material. The scene at the beginning where Amy and her family are cryogenically frozen is extremely disturbing and claustrophobic, and there's an attempted rape later on. The writing, story, and ideas are handled deftly, though, and I can't recommend this book highly enough for both older teens and adults. Recommended for ages 14 and up.

Contains: attempted rape, suicide, euthanasia, violence, sexual situations

Reviewed by: Kirsten Kowalewski