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Pants' Books & Stuff!

Hi there! I imagine you must be wondering what the heck is up with my blog name. The short answer is, Pants has become my internet handle in a lot of places where I hang out (somehow). I mainly read YA and comics, and I also frequently read speculative fiction of pretty much any kind. My other hobbies include watching anime and playing video games. Other random tidbits: I have a Bachelor's degree in English Literature and a Masters in Library and Information Sciences. I also have an affinity for tea.
Across the Universe - Beth Revis This was another book that I read because I wanted to try to keep up with new releases that caught my eye. This book had such a pretty cover and the synopsis sounded kind of cool, so I decided to give this one a go. It also helped that I read mostly favorable reviews, but a few that weren't stellar, so my expectations weren't ridiculously high. However, this book fell a little flat for me, for several reasons.

It's been awhile since I read this one (I really need to write reviews more closely after finishing a book) so I'll try to gather my thoughts and voice them coherently, but I might be a little all over the place. Anyway, one of the first points I want to bring up is the plot: it's supposed to be a mystery, aboard a generational ship. Someone keeps taking people out of cryo but they're doing it wrong, so it's killing people. This mystery plot wasn't all that mysterious to me. I wasn't able to guess exactly what was going on, but I had a pretty good idea who was pulling these stunts. The reason for this was because Revis only introduces a handful of characters. If you want to make a mystery plot mysterious, there needs to be enough characters with some kind of motive to keep the readers guessing.

All right, so I wasn't sold on the plot. How about the characters? They were mediocre for me, at best. Amy annoyed me most of the time; you think she would be more SCARED, considering the situation she's in. She's stuck in a freakin' ship full of people she doesn't know and everyone thinks she's a freak. Instead of being even the least bit afraid though, she's just constantly angry. I guess Revis wanted to characterize her as a headstrong character who could take care of herself, but her reaction to her situation just didn't ring true for me. Also, because of her brazenness, she was pretty stupid. Harvey kept trying to warn her about the dangers of wandering around while the people were breeding or whatever, but would Amy listen? Nooo. Dumb girl. It's too bad, because I did honestly feel pretty bad for her in that first chapter (which I think was the best part of the book.)

Elder was all right, but I honestly can't remember much about him, except that he was a bit of a drama queen. Everything was very srs business and melodramatic.

Amy and Elder's relationship felt oddly paced for some reason.. I can't remember why I feel that way, but I did. It felt like they were acting independently from each other more often than not, so maybe that's why I didn't really buy into their supposedly strong friendship. I'm glad that the focus of the novel wasn't on their relationship though. Revis also avoided the dreaded love-triangle (and I think Harvey could've very easily been a third party in their budding romantic relationship, but he always just stayed a good friend. Thank goodness.)

I had some trouble buying into the science present in the novel a lot too. The whole thing with controlling genes and making people especially artistic, or especially smart or what have you didn't really seem believable. I know that this is supposed to be sci-fi, so we're supposed to suspend our disbelief a bit, but it still felt silly. If you can make more engineers, why not make smarter engineers so you can fix your broken ship? Also, when things start moving in space, they stay at the same speed; there's no friction in space, nothing can slow it down. So the whole problem involving the ship is kind of moot anyway. Also, the use of the drug to pacify the people felt very Brave New World, which is fine, but it felt like a much weaker version of it.

The dual perspective of the novel was all right. I remember Elder and Amy's voices being different enough that it was never a problem differentiating between their chapters (though I think I had to check at least once or twice) and it will hopefully pull in female and male audiences. I think the plot could appeal to both genders as well, with the lack of focus on romance (though it is present, just enough to please female readers) and the mystery being at the forefront. The only problem I see here is I think by trying to appeal to both genders, Revis has fallen short in both regards: the mystery is tepid, and not very enthralling, and the romance is shallow and unconvincing.

Maybe I feel this way because I'm just too old for this book (I'm 21 by the way.) I think that teenagers (13-17) looking for something different than the typical YA supernatural love-triangle plot will enjoy this. It's not a terrible novel by any means, I've just read much better sci-fi books, better mysteries and better romances (I don't mean romance as a genre though.) There's nothing HORRIBLE about this book, but there's nothing AMAZING about it either.

Final Verdict: This novel was okay. I didn't hate it, but I don't think I would invest any money in it. I can't say there was anything I really disliked about it, but there was nothing that I really liked either. The characters were okay, the mystery plot wasn't very mysterious and the writing did what it set out to do. I did like that there was less of a focus on romance and more on the mystery going on the ship. It's just too bad that the mystery was so predictable. I also had some issues with the science Revis incorporated in her story, and I know that you sometimes need to suspend your disbelief, but this is science fiction, so there should be a little credibility behind the science. I doubt I'll be reading any of the sequels for this series, but I'd still give it a mild recommendation if you're looking to read something light and easy, as it does read fairly quickly (I read it in two sittings, despite its 400 page length), but maybe for teen readers; I don't think it carries too well over to adult readers, especially if you read a lot of sci-fi.