Across the Universe is not about the Beatles song of the same name (though it is quoted at the beginning), nor does it have any connection to the musical. It’s a dystopian space opera told from alternating points of view (POV’s).
17-year-old Amy is accompanying her parents to the new planet Centauri Earth, a 350 year journey from our Earth (which these characters know as Sol-Earth). Amy and her family, along with others, are being cryogenically frozen so they’ll wake up the same age on Centauri Earth.
Elder is Amy’s age, but set to be the next leader of the colony on board the spaceship Godspeed. The people of Godspeed have been flourishing for generations under the rule of various “Eldests” who all carry a dark secret about their past.
The book starts our a bit slow, with Amy being frozen for over 50 pages, but picks up once she wakes up and meets Elder. Unfortunately for Amy, she was woken up 50 years before Godspeed is set to land on Centauri Earth. She thinks someone tried to murder her, as well as three other people unplugged from their chambers (only one of whom survives ). Amy now must catch a murderer *and* adjust to a new life on board a spaceship…though with Elder for company, it can’t be all bad.
Alternating POV’s are hard to pull off. If an author switches between two different characters too abruptly (or waits too long to do it), it can be jarring. It’s hard for me to get into a book like this, but I think author Beth Revis pulls it off well. Amy and Elder are both interesting characters, and I thought seeing the story through both their perspectives fleshed it out well.
It’s hard to pin down the genre of Across the Universe — it’s a pretty even mix of dystopian, space opera, and mystery. Amy has to not only figure out who tried to kill her (as well as two other victims and another potential one), but what the heck is up with these people on Godspeed. They all have the same olive skin and dark hair and Amy, with her bright red hair and pale skin, stands out almost dangerously. Eldest, the ship’s current leader, insists the sameness is to prevent conflict and thinks Amy’s looks are dangerous.
As Amy wakes up, the population is preparing for the next Season, in which residents engage in public sex to procreate for the next generation. Amy is horrified, but Elder insists this behavior is normal and Amy is the weird one. Have customs really changed so much in 250 years, or does Eldest have some sort of mind control over these people? And, if so, what is he doing to them?
I love dystopian and mystery novels, so even with the alternating POV’s and slow beginning I really enjoyed this book. If you like science fiction of any sort, you should pick it up.