Actor, Writer, Jedi, Singer,

Actor, Writer, Jedi, Singer,
You were my brother, Anakin. I loved you

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Across the Universe

(Just so you all know, I read this book a couple of weeks ago)
When I heard about this book on a book reviewers, I was very intrigued. With the plethora of fiction directed towards teenagers bombarded with such over used story-lines like Dystopias and paranormal romance(which I'm getting rather tired of) I was happy to see an actual, recently published, Science Fiction book directed towards teen readers since it is my favorite genre and there are precious few novels written for people my age. The plot line of a generation ship traveling through space sounded fascinating(I remember back when I first about generation ships and feeling that desire to go to the stars) so I put it on my list of books to read and eventually went and got it at the library.
Sadly, it wasn't as good as I was expecting. I had been hoping for a new, fresh story to read and enjoy put the book slide into the predictable re-hash of a society being run by a bad, corrupt government in the future and a forced romance between the two teen-aged protagonists. 
The book wasn't horrible by any chance, of course; there were some things and characters that I did like in the story, but the problems just grated on my nerves so I wasn't able to enjoy it as much as I would have. I also really didn't like the cover I had(mine was different than the one above) since it had two people about to kiss and that is not something I want to carry around(Bleh! :P)

Brief summary of the book: The story begins with a girl named Amy Martin being frozen(since the journey will take three hundred years) along with her mom and dad who are both going on a ship called the "Godspeed" which is heading to a inhabitable planet to colonize it. Besides the frozen scientists and military personal are hundreds of thousands of people whose descendants will help colonize the world. However, Amy is awoken violently before schedule and has to deal with the strange workings of the ship and how it is run and having to live for the next fifty-forty nine years without her parents in an alien environment while working out who woke her up and if that person will do it again.  

Story/plot line: The story is a good one, I'll give Mrs. Revis that. I started really to enjoyed the story once it got under way, especially the last third of the book where the secrets were all being revealed. If the author had given more focus on the plot and the mystery of what was happening with the people in the ship, why the leader Eldest was ruling the way he did, and why the frozens were being unplugged and created better characters instead of just piddling around, the book would have been very good. 
One thing I found interesting was that the main characters vehemently hated Eldest and his way of ruling, I actually understood where the rules came from. The whole conflict could have made for an interesting and insightful discussion on morality but instead it just petered into Eldest=evil dictator when really he seemed much more complicated than that; I was rather disappointed that Mrs. Revis decided not to explore that.
Another problem I had with the book's plot was the pacing. There were several scenes that weren't needed, like the inappropriate, evil attack on Amy by some psychos(more on that later) and the stuff where not much seemed to happen. Also, I felt like more scenes between certain characters, especially the two main ones who, who are supposed to like each other, spend very little scenes together(not that I really want to, since I found their interactions a bit boring). 
So all in all, what I wish the author had done a tighter job on her plot and had focused more on the mystery and what was going on in the ship instead of going off on little tangents that didn't have much to do with the story. I also wish I could have seen more space stuff; you could have easily taken this story out of a ship and put it onto a futuristic earth and the society would have worked out well. When I read science fiction I want there to be more than a science fiction twist to the already overdone dystopia(though this book is way better than most dystopias, so, yeah). 

Characters: Okay, so herein is where my main problem with the book lies. I It is very sad when, in fiction, the side characters are much more fascinating and likable than the main ones; however, in most stories where I like one of the side characters better, I still would consider the main character a favorite as well since they are just as interesting to read about. Sadly in this book, that isn't the case. 

Amy Martin: The female lead of our story is definitely not a character I'd like to read about. She wasn't as developed as she could have been, though she did remind me a lot of the typical teen-age girl. I wish we could have had a bit more explanation about her life and what she enjoyed; we knew she liked track and photography, but what about favorite movies, books, t.v. shows? One problem I had with her was how she was written was that she seemed to lack common sense and have an extremely short term memory which cropped up quite often in the show. For example, in the book, there is this thing called "The Season" where people all mate at around the same time (gross, I know, but I can't say what  causes it sense that would spoil some of the plot) so to begin the next generation. 
                          The first thing I didn't think was very smart of Amy was that she went off by herself when this was going on an all the people's hormones are going all insane and everything. Number 1, why would you want to be outside and around people doing it in the middle of the street? and Number 2, If you are in a place you don't know much about, why would you go off alone? Anyway, she ends up seeing this guy she'd seen staring at her talking to these other two hormone-induced men(things really; people that do that evil thing aren't even human beings) about her who ten precede to chase her. Instead of running towards the hospital where she knows she will be safe, she heads off into the cornfield(not a good idea!!!) and they catch her which is really confusing since shouldn't she be able to out run them, being in track and all? I really think this scene should not have been included; it was already apparent that the Season was wrong and disgusting and we didn't need to see something so purely evil nearly happen to her(a character named Harley finds her in time and saves her). Another thing I find annoying is the fact is, why on earth can't we, for once, in a book have the girl actually beat her attackers up? It virtually never happens since either the act is done to her or a guy comes in and saves her and beats the psychos up. 
My main reason for thinking this scene wasn't needed, however, was that, a few chapters later, Amy pretty much forgets it even happened to her(and I'm not talking about the part where she was all 'LaLa' from what was in the water). The chapter immediately afterwards fits well with the story but later on, Luthe(the main evil thing) still isn't punished and the only thing she cares about is who the murderer is(which is valid, of course) and the rules Eldest set up. Doesn't she even care about revenge? Doesn't she want to see that thing punished?! Plus, HOW COULD SHE JUST FORGET?  When that sort of thing happens, you don't cry and freak out about it for a little while and just forget about it! You'd need EXTENSIVE amounts of therapy and you'd be very scared and angry and most likely want to hurt the person very badly(read the book and watch the movie Speak for a realistic approach to the topic). Amy is really just a pushover, cloudy thinker who resembles your typical Teen Female protagonist mold which is very sad, indeed. 

Elder: While more interesting than Amy, I still didn't connect with the story's male protagonist as much as I should have. I liked how the author presented him in how he was very different than someone you'd meet from earth and how he is different than your typical male main character, though he could have been developed a whole lot more than he was(though I would definitely not consider him my type. At all).
One thing I disliked about Elder was that he was attracted to Amy mainly because she was so different looking from anyone he'd ever seen(everybody on the ship is mono-ethnic) instead of her personality(looks of course do play into attraction but personality is what solidifies the attraction into a crush). I also thought the random lusty thought the author threw in there was a bit strange and heavy handed; was that really needed? One thing that really bothered me whilst reading this novel was that he turned on his mentor Eldest way too quickly. No matter what, you always feel some sense of connection to the person that raised you. As soon as Amy pops up he immediately begins to disobey Eldest all the time instead of just sometimes and won't listen and talks badly about him all the time. I wish Mrs. Revis had shown more conflict with Elder's feelings but I guess I understand why....

Harley: My favorite character of the novel, Harley is a man in his twenties who is friends with Eldest, is an artist, and struggles with depression. Of the main cast of characters, Harley was the best done and most interesting, having a more interesting back story and more depth than the leads. I really wish Mrs. Revis had utilized him more then she did and explored more about him; actually, I think the book would have been better if she'd written it part of it from his point of view. 

The lame usage of romance: One problem with teen literature nowadays is that authors feel like they have to put it in there even if there is absolutely no chemistry between the two people involved. While I was glad that there wasn't a love triangle(YAY!! That is so overused), the romance just didn't click with me at all(but then, it rarely does since I usually can't stand romance anyways). In this book, as in countless others, the romance seemed too rushed. If your going to put romance in your story at least make it believable and have it gradually build instead of having the characters instantly want each other(since I know it's definitely not love in this book or pretty much any other teen book you pick up). I really wish Amy and Harley had paired off instead since the two actually had some chemistry and he did save her and punch Luthe in the face.

So, all in all, the book was good but it wasn't great. Mrs. Revis has a nice style of writing and she definitely has potential to write good books, but since this is new debut novel, I'll just blame it on her being a beginner at writing(All writers, including me, have been there). I also wish we could read more about the planet they will be heading to instead of just life on the ship; I have a fascination with other worlds and the idea of life different than ours and I wish we could have seen some of that here.

Hope you have a good day and May the Force be with you...Always 
Jedi Shena Tokala signing out

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