View from the window seat:
Seventeen-year-old Amy made a decision that would change her life forever: to leave behind her everyone she knows to join her parents as frozen cargo on a ship destined for an Earth-like planet centuries away. Amy finds out there is something terribly wrong with the ship she’s been sleeping on when she wakes from her slumber fifty years early. Someone tried to kill her by waking her, and now she has to find the murderer before her parents meet the same fate. Along with Elder, the boy destined to be the next leader of the ship, she must discover the secrets of Godspeed before it’s too late.
I really wanted to love this book. I’ve been hankering for some sci-fi for awhile, and this generational ship with a murder mystery twist seemed like a good bet. Unfortunately, there were some things that stopped me from enjoying it as much as I would’ve liked.
First, the pacing and the plotting. Our main character, Amy, spends much of the beginning of the book sleeping. Her narration consists mostly of vague, nightmare-y thoughts, which makes sense since she’s asleep and not even supposed to be aware. Even though it made sense to me, I think this was carried on for too long. I got bored with her chapters really early on, so that kind of put me off right from the start. As for the plot, I figured out who was the murderer pretty much immediately. I like being surprised at twists in books, and this one was just too predictable.
I also had a hard time accepting the society on the ship. I would actually say that this book read more like a dystopian than a science fiction book. There’s a tyrannical leader and a subjugated, simplified society with strict rules. How this society came about though didn’t feel believable to me. I won’t detail this, because it’s revealed quite late in the book as a twist and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but I just didn’t believe that things would really happen that way.
Then there’s Amy herself. Like I said, I got off on the wrong foot with her right away because of how her sleep-narration dragged on. Then when she woke up, she was just kind of these big whiny, crying mess. I totally get that; I would be freaking out too if I woke up on some ship with no escape, knew I would be an old lady when I landed on the planet I had thought would be my new home, and I wouldn’t see my family for 50 years. So even though I understood why she was so emotional, it just kind of annoyed me. She makes half-hearted attempts to figure things out, but she isn’t really an active heroine.
What I’m most bothered by is the fact that Amy was [spoiler alert!] almost raped. This scene literally had no purpose. I think I understand what the author was attempting (I could be way off on this): Amy had to realize that there’s something wrong with everyone on board the ship, which is part of the central mystery. But there are so many other ways Amy could’ve realized this without be subjected to physical violation. The worst part is that this terrible act is never questioned, never confronted, never discussed. Amy just cries for a night and then it’s brushed aside. Gratuitous rape, including almost-rape, is never okay.
There were some major problems with Across the Universe that I just couldn’t see past whilst reading. I don’t think I’ll be continuing this series.