courtcat: (Adventure)
([personal profile] courtcat Jan. 7th, 2011 10:06 pm)
Title: Across the Universe
Author: Beth Revis
Release Date: March 2011 (according to the spine, though I've heard January and 'Spring' as well)
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin Young Readers Group)
Genre: YA dystopian sci-fi

First things first - I'm pretty meh about the aesthetics of this book.  It's fairly brilliant conceptually (I think), in that there's the plain, white world behind Elder and the complicated cosmos behind Amy, but there's nothing that really makes it pop, despite the vaguely holographic sheen with Amy and the stars.  All of this is okay, though, because . . .

Characterization.  Oh. my. gods.  It was fantastic, really - I think Revis got the teenage voice (at least that of my own teenage years) pretty spot on.  So much YA stuff (or stuff with teen-early twenties main characters) comes off as treacly or trying to be cool, or . . . just off, really.  And I wanted SO VERY BADLY  to write this off as the same, except that both Elder and Amy thought and/or said things that I thought or said in the throes of adolescence.  In addition, the world in which the story is set is so wonderfully fleshed and nuanced that it becomes a character itself (and reading a post on Revis' blog, I understand why), but in a wonderfully contained way.  While there's certainly room for other books written in the same world, it doesn't scream with the need for more, more, more the way a lot of serial stuff has lately.  This is because of this fantastic world-build, I'm fairly certain.

Plot-wise, it's solid.  Not unique (I honestly think 'unique' is a next to impossible thing to achieve), but different enough from the stuff that I want to set it beside that it doesn't seem repetitive; it just seems as if I've read a lot of the same books the author must have.  We have a small population on a space ship headed for somewhere far away, a catastrophe, and the resulting chaos that leads to a totalitarian sort of government that becomes more and more of a dictatorship as time goes on.  Like in Ally Condie's 'Matched', the language and phrasing in the beginning (well, that of the male lead, anyway) are fairly simplistic, and indicative of the life he thinks he's leading in the world in which he thinks he lives.  This changes as things progress, as moral and ethical dilemmas - and a certainty that he doesn't know everything he needs to know - change his view of his world and all the people in it, including himself.

The dual points of view are difficult to follow sometimes, largely because the two 'voices' become a bit to similar in places, and is often distracting though the only way to fix that would be to have two separate books.  My trouble with this is simply a stylistic preference.  It will be interesting to see what Revis brings to us in the future!
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