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Nessa's Thoughts

Just a British girl who reads a bit too much.

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The Dead Zone
Stephen King
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Across the Universe

Across the Universe - Beth Revis Hello everybody, and welcome to another one of Nessa's reviews. This time we're looking at Across The Universe by Beth Revis, a YA novel set on a dystopian (don't you dare run away!) spaceship.Before we begin, I have one thing to get out of the way – the cover. So many times I would pick this book up in the shop and focus on the white space, wondering what the hell it was supposed to be. Is it supposed to be a spark made by two worlds colliding? No, the planets are shaped too weirdly. Is it two creatures with proboscises? Then I turned the book sideways.Oh.It's a boy and a girl about to kiss. Yeah. Didn't I feel silly.Now that that's over with, I was kind of pleasantly surprised by this one. Yeah, who knew that catapulting the YA genre up into space would be so refreshing? No post-apocalyptic enclaves or utopias hiding some horrible secrets. No brutal competitions of any sort. With all of these boxes ticked (not that those dystopian settings are bad, I'm just tired of reading them), I was hoping there would be no love triangle. Just please, for once, no love triangle. Book, will you be like the awesome Anna Dressed in Blood and spare me the cheesy romantic crap? Let's find out, shall we?I normally quite like it when books swap between more than one viewpoint. It helps to move the story along, fills in gaps in our main hero/heroine's knowledge, and if you're finding one character a little bit frustrating, it's sweet relief. But those chapters in which main heroine Amy was just whining about being frozen and having nightmares and fleeting moments of consciousness? They didn't really work for me. Yes, I get it. Amy's terrified and misses her parents, yawn, I'd like to learn more about Elder, please.Elder is our secondary character, and he's your average teenage boy. Well, your average teenage boy who's been raised all his life to become the eventual leader of a new generation on a space ship headed towards a planet 300 years away. He was quite sweet, a little bit dorky, and most of all, spent a lot of the novel trying to wriggle out from underneath his mentor Eldest's thumb, rather than just whining about it and biding his time 'til he became the leader of the ship. Hooray!That is, until Elder meets Amy. He doesn't become obsessed with her, per say, he's more so just interested in her because she has a different hair and eye colour and because she's feisty and isn't afraid to display emotion. For example, this bizarre quote from page 345.Amy pulls away and looks into my face. Her pale skin is blotchy red, her eyes are veined and shadowed, and a shiny line of snot trickles from her nose to the top of her lip. She wipes her face with her arm, smearing tears and mucus.She has never looked more beautiful to me....Ew. The romance wasn't really the main draw of the book, but Amy and Elder's love didn't feel real to me. At the end of the novel, Elder and Amy get to be together, and I just didn't care one jot for the pair of them. Elder drools a little too much over Amy's ethnic differences, and Amy just... doesn't really show much reaction to him whatsoever. At some points, she hates him, and at others, he's a friend. Sort of.Well, anyway, the main focus of the plot is that Amy was pulled out of this cryostasis fifty years before the ship is due to land on the new planet. It's basically attempted murder, but, as Amy discovers, she's not the only one being forcibly woken up. So, she teams up with Elder in order to try and solve this mystery. I was quite happy to follow along with the events, and was hoping for a story to really get my teeth into. I've never read a murder mystery that took place on a spaceship, so count me in.Sadly, I cannot believe that Across the Universe decided to treat me like a moron, by dropping some incredibly obvious hints throughout the story. The character who is revealed to be the murderer at the end quotes from Paradise Lost, in particular, the part where it is said that the deepest depths of Hell are frozen over. He also has a scar along his ear and neck from ripping out his tracking device. Our mystery involves a locked-off area, and all the tracking information states that nobody else has been down there. Excepting this guy, of course. Ooh, scary.I'd also like to point out that there are some incredibly contrived moments in which the reader is assured that Eldest is not the one behind all these murders. There were just too many ridiculous moments in which he is made out to be evil enough to join a minor league of super-villains and other despots.Exhibit A: He teachers Elder that any kind of difference in society breeds contempt. Hence why the population of the spaceship has been maintained as mono-ethnic for the past few generations.Exhibit B: He educates Elder about the great leaders back on Earth. Such as Abraham Lincoln, who, according to Eldest, recognised the discord between races and swiftly sent the African-American population back to Africa to avoid another bloody war.Exhibit C: Eldest told Elder in the past that Hitler was a 'great man'.Exhibit D: He keeps the population happy with a few promises and a drug they don't even know they're taking which calms the nerves.Exhibit E: Eldest is an alcoholic.Exhibit F: He maintains a policy of eugenics aboard the ship, injecting and genetically manipulating the people and the animals into being born without any flaws whatsoever.You see my problem with this book? It seemed every time Eldest was around, there was some little clue in the writing to tell you that he was evil. I really hate being spoon-fed, and it really ruined the final part of the book for me.Speaking of the final part of the book, I read it completely bored, knowing what was going to happen and rolling my eyes when the villain was unmasked with all the panache of the end of an episode of Scooby Doo. Admittedly, there was a fun twist near the end, reveal why all the biometric scanning was bypassed, but otherwise, nothing much to see here.All in all, this was a decent novel. The writing is alright, the setting is intriguing, and we have a nice handful of side characters, such as Harley. It's also good to see two strong main characters who each have a hand in investigating these murders, even if their courtship is about as interesting as watching paint dry. Sadly, those of us who have read more than a few crime novels will see through the more obvious hints, clear as day. I am not saying the novel is bad because it isn't cerebral. Rather, it's bad because the hints were made far too obvious for my liking. Maybe if that aforementioned Paradise Lost-reading character had just been reading it in the background, rather than going on about how Hell is frozen over, or Eldest only mentioned his love for tyranny only a few times, it would have worked a lot more to the book's advantage. 3/5.(This review is also available on my blog: http://book-wyrm.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/across-universe-by-beth-revis.html)