Tag Archives: sci-fi

Review: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

31 May

 Series: Across the Universe, book # 1

Published:  January 11th 2011 by Razorbill

Details: Hardcover, 398 pages

My Rating: 3/5

My Summary:

Amy wakes up on a space ship 50 years early of landing because someone unplugged her frozen box. At the space ship she soon realizes something is wrong with the way things are run. Her only ally seems to be Elder, who is born to be the new leader of the ship. This book was a bit too slow-going for me, and lacked in characterisation. I did enjoy parts of it though, because of the world building and the interesting ideas that were brought up. I may or may not read the sequel A Million Suns.

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A few chapters in:

The next book to top the poll of what book to read next is Across the Universe by Beth Revis. Once again, thank you all for voting, I really appreciate it!

This is a book that created quite a buzz when it was released a few months back, I’m guessing partly because of its originality (I mean, romance on a space ship?), and partly because of its stunning book cover.

I’m now a few chapters in. Amy and her parents have agreed to be shipped into space (preserved in ice), in order to wake up a few hundred years later for the arrival on a new planet.

It took me quite a few chapters though to just piece that bit of information together.

You see, the beginning is confusing. As a reader you jump right into the complex sci-fi world Revis has created, with tubes, blue-sparkling liquids and weird ice coffins. As soon as I started to grasp what was going on (more or less), the story forwarded a few hundred years into time and I found myself on the space ship, with feeder and keeper levels, gravitation tubes and biometric scanners.

My confusion was total. I felt a bit like I did when I started reading The Host  (Stephanie Meyers’ sci-fi novel), which also required a bit of concentration at the start. But just like in The Host, it all started to make sense after a while.

At the spaceship we follow Elder, who is a teenage boy, born to be a leader of the 2000 or so people who live on the ship. He is in training with the current leader “The Eldest”, but is generally just feeling lonely and left out of all the important stuff.

One day, someone unplugs one of the ice coffins in the basement of the ship. And that’s how Amy wakes up, 50 years or so early of the destination. Who unplugged her and why?

And this is as far as I’ve got, but I think I’m liking it. It’s a bit slow-going and has a melancholic feel to the story. Yet I’m intrigued by the intricate world-building Ravis as created and of course by the romance that’s bound to happen between Amy and Elder.

 

 
 

After finishing the book:

I finished the book last night, and I’m sad to say that I wasn’t thrilled by this one. I’m wondering now if it was because I was expecting something else from it (romance in space) or because the story just wasn’t captivating enough. Maybe a combination of the two?

There were parts of it that I liked though. The premise was interesting and I kept turning pages to find out what was going to be revealed of the world on that space ship. It was also very well written, so that I literally felt like I was on board myself.

Moreover, I liked the interesting ideas that were introduced on how one could survive in an enclosed space for generations and what actions are necessary to ensure the survival of such a society. Come to think of it, Across the Universe also dealt with the same ideas as in The Uglies Series, that is; how much damage are you allowed to cause for the sake of the greater good?  In Uglies, the authorities “solve” the problems of the society in much the same way as in Across the Universe. In both books I turned pages to find out more of the hidden truths that I knew were there.

Only, I enjoyed Uglies so much more.

Uglies had a sense of a great urgency and a quicker pace, that made me race through the pages. Across the Universe on the other hand, trotted along quite slowly. Now, I don’t mind slow-going, as long as it is enjoyable to read, usually due to great characters (see Unearthly). The problem here though was that it was slow-going AND lacked great main characters.

When you think about it, it’s strange that I didn’t connect with Amy and Elder, as they both had their own POV. But despite reading quite a lot of their inner thoughts, I never felt like I truly cared. Most importantly, I failed to see the connection the main characters Amy and Elder supposedly shared. Amy is mostly feeling upset all the time (from having woken up 50 years before her parents), and treats Elder as just another guy. Elder goes out of his way to support Amy, and I couldn’t fathom why he was that besotted with her – more than that he thought her unusual red hair was pretty. In fact the two of them hardly had any moments together where I felt like they connected. It was more like: “we’re the only two young people here, hence we have no other option than to stick together”.

My other main issue was that by the time the mystery was revealed, I had already guessed it. As I’m not usually a person who figure out mysteries before time, I think it’s safe too say that there were too many obvious hints pointing towards the conclusion.

Finally, the ending left me disappointed. Now, how do I say this without being spoilery? Let me just say that I wasn’t happy with the way things ended for a few of the characters. I thought all of these people were interesting, each in their own way, and I had hopes that they would provide something interesting (ideas, complications etc ) before they were dismissed.

In short, I felt that the ending was too simplistic, too black and white and too obvious. It felt rushed as if the author just wanted to get it over and done with. Given the intriguing premise, it therefore left me underwhelmed.

The question is now: Will I read the next book?

Maybe. I’m sort of curious to see what happens next, but certainly not dying to know. The sequel A Million Suns to be published sometime next year.

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Review: The Host by Stephenie Meyer

5 Aug

Series: The Host, book #1

Published: May 6th 2008 by Little, Brown and Company

Details: Hardcover 619 pages

My grade: 4.5/5

My summary:

If you liked Twilight, you will most likely love The Host. Don’t be put off by the fact that it is the story of an alien set in a dystopian future. Meyer proved in Twilight that she writes excellent character-driven plots with great love stories and this is no exception. Just make sure to get through the first 100 pages or so which may seem a bit slow. After that you won’t be able to let the book go.

Update:

It appears as if Meyer is planning a trilogy here. Sequel to be called The Soul and the third installment has been named The Seeker. No release date is set yet, apart from sometime around 2012,  if all goes as planned. Let’s hope that it does!

See my full review below:

Synopsis:

The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of their human hosts while leaving their bodies intact, and most of humanity has succumbed. But Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. Wanderer, the invading “soul” who has been given Melanie’s body, knew about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the too vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn’t expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

Melanie fills Wanderer’s thoughts with visions of the man Melanie loves–Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body’s desires, Wanderer yearns for a man she’s never met. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search for the man they both love.

My thoughts:

I have to admit I was a bit sceptical at first, towards this book. Firstly, it is written by Stephenie Meyer, the author of the much adored Twilight saga and I feared that the she might have experienced a one-hit wonder with the series, as is so often the case.  Secondly, the plot of the book didn’t seem all that appealing to me. Sci-Fi has never really been my thing, and the synopsis of some alien rooting itself into a human host hardly did much to convince me of the contrary.

But I needn’t have to worry. This book really is great! It is rather slow at first, and it takes a while to get into the details of the story, but then something happens about 100 pages in, and it takes off for real. Suffice to say that it took me about a week to complete the first 100 pages or so, then 2 days to read the rest (500+ pages).

This book isn’t so much a sci-fi story as it is a story about survival against all odds and relationships put into extreme circumstances. There is romance as well, in the form of a love triangle (or to be exact quadruple) – something I can assure you has never been seen before, but very much believable, thanks to Meyer’s writing.

To me, the best part of the book was the characters and their interactions with each other during the course of the story. This is where Meyer proves to us again, just why we fell in love with the characters in Twilight. She really knows how  to develope her characters well. Once again in Host, it is as if you know all the people (and one alien) inside and out, so well in fact, that you feel and breath with them. On finishing the book, I felt really sad having to leave the great bunch of people I’d come to known throughout the book.

All in all, this is a great book which I highly recommend.