Thursday, 28 August 2014

the 'across the universe' series by beth revis - spoiler-free review

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

hi guys! today i have my long-overdue review of beth revis' 'across the universe' series! so let's get right into it:

the premise is what really sucks you into this series - you arrive into the story on a spaceship called 'godspeed', which was sent off from earth almost 300 years ago to transport a big portion of america's population to a newly-discovered habitable planet. personally, that's the most exciting bit for me, but i found the marketing of this series to be really odd, and blurbs/reviews/etc. always focused on the character of amy. amy is a girl from earth who was frozen on this ship (among many others) to be awoken when they land, but for some reason is woken up early and nobody knows why. it comes about that this was an attempted murder and they have to find the killer, and that storyline is actually very interesting, but the focus on amy is ALL WRONG. she is boring, she is bland, she is whiny, and i really didn't like her. she's quite unimportant to the story itself, initially, and i feel that if she had died at the beginning instead of living then the story could have continued quite unchanged.
what was really interesting though is how the politics of the ship changed as new characters were introduced and things began to happen. it gave a really interesting perspective on what it's like to run a country or to be in charge, and i really enjoyed that aspect of the story. you also get an insight into how the ship might run, both politically and mechanically, and i really enjoyed looking at the environmental aspects of it, and considering how they would grow food, how they would get vitamins, how they would create a simulated living environment for livestock, and so on.
the series has a double narrative between elder, a teenage boy who is learning how to be the leader (or 'eldest') of the ship, and amy. i found the double narrative to actually be really useful because you get to see the situation from the perspective of someone that has lived on the ship his whole life and also from a perspective of someone who finds it all alien and strange. i have no issues with amy and elder being the main characters but there was a totally unnecessary romance element added which i really didn't care for and i felt that it added nothing to the story.

so those are some comments i have on the series in general, and now i'm going to talk about a few things i thought about each individual book:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

  • the characters in 'across the universe' were bland and flat. i had no connection to them at all and they really didn't excite me.
  • some of the twists were pretty obvious in this book; in the first few chapters elder muses about something (no spoilers here!) that is a TOTAL GIVEAWAY to the big twist! it was so obvious! i understand that as an author you have to lay down clues to your twists but it was so sloppy. 
  • however, some of the other twists were really interesting and unexpected. they really built upon the premise that i found so interesting to begin with, which got me more involved in the story and were really the only thing that pushed me on to read the second book. 
  • although the characters were quite basic, at some points it seemed like beth revis really didn't understand them at all. amy calling her dad 'daddy' seemed overly childish for an otherwise strong character, and eldest calling amy a 'freak' seemed overly childish for such an authority figure. these are minor points but it really struck me as odd and it affected the flow of the dialogue.
  • i'm not sure if this was an attempt to seem ~futuristic~ or something, but constantly using words like 'frex', 'brilly', and 'uni' (to replace 'fuck', 'brilliant', and 'universe', i assume) were just annoying. 

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

  • the premise of the series is excellent in general but i feel like it really kicked it up a gear for 'a million suns'. i loved the idea of a revolution and it was such a simple way to change the social dynamic so that this book didn't feel like just an extension of 'across the universe' even though the situation hadn't changed. very smart move!
  • some absolutely incredible characters came out in this book, particularly some really strong women. i absolutely adored second shipper shelby and victria. i also loved how the character of orion developed in this book.
  • the split narrative really worked for me in this book - this is a perfect example of how to use a split narrative to build tension. switching to elder when something exciting was happening with amy really helped get me interested in the story line and really motivated me to keep reading. 
  • to say that i really didn't care about the characters in the first book, at all, i loved some of the new characters so much that i actually CRIED. TWICE. beth revis really stepped up her game in 'a million suns'. 

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

  • there were some more great characters introduced in 'shades of earth'. i really liked amy's parents; i think they split her personality traits perfectly - her dad getting her fighting side and her mum getting her explorative side. i also really liked how bartie developed in this book.
  • more badass women were also introduced! emma blesdoe was a fantastic character.
  • in this book we learn a lot more about the new habitable planet (known as centauri-earth), and i was quite underwhelmed by it. it was mostly described as being a rainforest type landscape, and the only animals that were encountered were pretty much just pterodactyls. it could have been so much more unique than that, i was really disappointed. 
  • the ending, however, was fantastic. it broke my heart.

overall, i did end up really enjoying the series, and it definitely improved over time. the main flaws are obviously the initial characters but i think the development of the side characters really made up for this. the premise managed somehow to get increasingly interesting and it was incredible that beth managed to keep the suspense going and to create new twists that were exciting and shocking even when the conditions of the story didn't change that much. i recommend picking it up and persevering through into 'a million suns' if 'across the universe' doesn't interest you very much - it does get better!

so that is it! thanks for reading guys, and i'll have my august wrap-up up on here for you very soon! hope you're having a great day. :-) x

No comments:

Post a Comment