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Review: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Title: Across the Universe
Author: Beth Revis
Genre: YA – Science Fiction – Dystopia
Series: Across the Universe #1
Publisher: Penguin Books
DOP: 2011
Pages: 398
Rating: 2/5

“If my life on Earth must end, let it end with a promise. Let it end with hope.”

Despite the mixed reviews, I succumbed to buying Across the Universe by Beth Revis due to the spectacular looking book cover and captivating summary. Although all the elements of a promising novel were present – a dystopian mystery set on board a spaceship during the longest space voyage to have ever existed, with a love story added in for good measure – the story never developed into the greatness I expected it to be. I wanted to love this but the repetitiveness of the story in combination with weak characters, ruined it for me.

That will teach me for not listening to my fellow book bloggers.

Synopsis

Following in the footsteps of her parents, Amy leaves behind the life she loves on Earth to be taken to a planet 300 years distance away. Cryogenically frozen in her body, she balances between being conscious and asleep until someone unfreezes her fifty years before she is supposed to be. Amy’s survival of her body’s thawing appears to be a fluke, and as she tries to cope with a society she doesn’t recognize or understand more people are being improperly unfrozen and murdered. There’s a killer on the ship and hiding is impossible. Who can Amy trust amidst the strangers and why did they wake her up?

Review

Across the Universe was one of those stories that put me on a rollercoaster of emotions but not necessarily all in a good way. There were a few things that intrigued me, and then there were parts that caused me to cringe at the amount of daftness our main characters seemed to display. The most surprising element of the story was the description of the technological parts of the cryogenic process and the ship that immediately contributed to the science fiction feeling.

The whole ordeal of becoming frozen was detailed to the point that I experienced a tightness in my chest that can be best described as a sense of panic gripping me. It pressed the right kind of buttons for me to become captivated. The structure of the spaceship was well thought out too. I especially liked how the passengers were able to transport from one level to another. It wasn’t a new idea but I thought it was cool nevertheless.

If the story was solemnly about technology, then yes, the elements were there and detailed and I would be done with my review. Unfortunately it wasn’t.

What was up with the characters?

There weren’t very many of them, and those we did have never burst from the page to become lively, unique characters I would have cared for. So much was left unfinished considering the extreme situation. The antagonist was exposed too quickly, too easily, giving the story the feeling of a failed attempt at a “whodunit”.

Elder’s arrogance and belief that he has a right to know everything immediately, aggravated me. He was disrespectful towards authority and dismissed all the rules. He was portrayed as a spoiled teenager who felt entitled to throw tantrums the minute he didn’t get what he wanted. His rebellion felt more like a teenager defying the rules set by his parents than the responsible character questioning the regime, thinking about the situation and the consequences of his actions that he was supposed to be.

His act of rebellion taught me a different lesson than what the author must have had in mind. The way it was dealt with, taught me it was okay to dismiss all kind of authority when you don’t agree; it taught me it was alright to ignore all the responsibilities and not think of the consequences as long as you get what you want. I understand that Revis tried to show us the problematic society and that the authority was corrupt, her message being to not blindly accept everything you’re being told by your superiors. However, the way Elder was portrayed, his youth and inexperience and the spoiled brat’s attitude, rubbed me in the wrong way. Needless to say he was my least favourite character.

Harley, on the other hand, was much more interesting than the protagonists and it saddened me he wasn’t more present. He seemed like a character with layers and I wanted to get to know him better. He questioned everything society threw at him, acting when he was confident it was the right thing to do. He was a strong character with real emotions, dealing with conflict in a thoughtful manner that it usually rendered me speechless each time his character reappeared. His story was tragic but beautiful all at once.

I’m also very confused about where the ROMANCE came from. Although Revis tried her best to make it reciprocal, it was obvious that she enforced a romance between her protagonists without listening to her characters as she wrote them.

I’m not sure how it started and how it developed but it was suddenly there without any building towards it. On some level, it portrayed the teenagers realistically, running after their hormones without any emotional connection and if that’s how Revis wanted them to come over to her readers, I wouldn’t have minded the “romance” as much. However, it bothered me that she wrote them in a way I had to believe they were “meant to be together”. It didn’t work for me, especially as it was one-sided and was more awkward than cute. If Revis had taken a different approach it could have worked but it felt unnatural in the end.

I haven’t started on how absurd it was they needed an entire book to discover the villain yet!

The way I saw it, there were three to five possibilities and three of them were villains in their own wicked way! The fact the plot took repetitive twists and voiced the same questions over and over again, was tiresome. The story didn’t seem to develop in any way.

I wasn’t much fan of the society either. In a strict sense, it was a proper dystopian novel with an organisation treating the people as a flock. If you disobeyed or showed signs of having a different opinion, you were quietly locked away on the mental ward of the hospital.

What bothered me was the level of “equality” that they strived for to the point it became racist. The people on board of the space ship all had the same physical characterisations: same skin, eye and hair colour: one big, happy family. The ideology: when everyone looks the same, there can’t be any argument so society wouldn’t get disturbed and all is well. Apparently, if we would look all the same, we wouldn’t have to deal with “bad” people such as thieves, murderers, kidnappers, rapists and so on. As if this type of “equality” would make a human’s nature “good”. It expressed a narrow-minded ideology from centuries ago that shows exactly why there are still problems in the world today.

When you take away the differences in a society, I can imagine that there would be less conflict as a result but that doesn’t automatically mean that everyone within said society thinks the same or shares the same opinions. In that way, Across the Universe’s society is a bit naïve as well.

Final Thoughts

Across the Universe ticks off all the boxes when it deals with fancy technological stuff that we expect from a science fiction novel. The mystery of a murderer running loose on a space ship would have been great if the characters had been given more depth and were worked out properly. The plot could have been less see-through and repetitive. All in all, there was a lot of potential with this book but it didn’t fully flourish and that’s a shame.

Did you enjoy Across the Universe? What did you think of the romance in this novel? Did you think the choice of character names was unique?

More books by Beth Revis:

Across the Universe series:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standalone:

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July Wrap Up / The one when I return

*crawls from underneath rock and waves*

Hi. Do you remember me? I can’t believe I disappeared for four months. How time flies, doesn’t it? I have no excuses except for the one: I needed a time-out. My life changed between November and March and then, turned completely upside down in March (with my mum dying and thus losing my best friend).

With the whole shebang of me taking care of my mum and then dealing with her loss, I haven’t been up-to-date with the bookish world lately. I have NO CLUE what’s coming out soon or which ones I have missed! I haven’t felt so out of it since I was a kid. And that’s a long, long time ago, my friends. 

I don’t know what I like to read, anymore. I’ve picked up books in the past year and lost interest after a few chapters. My TBR shelves feel outdated and when I scan the titles, I feel lost. As if those beautiful stories simply don’t do it for me anymore, as if I’ve outgrown them. Be patient with me as I rediscover everything, please? So I need to tidy up those shelves, start afresh and simply stop with the impulse buying. HAHA. As if that’s ever going to happen! 

My reading hasn’t been spectacular so far. However, in July booktube-a-thon happened and this year I was focused on actually finishing it. I wanted to make videos and everything but…I guess wanting to do EVERYTHING all at once wasn’t a good plan. What is it, they say? One step at the time, and babysteps, right? I’ll get there…

I’ve managed to read 8 books in July though, and I’ve made a list for you to scroll through and discover my reading!

  1. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Lou Clark is hired by Will Trainer’s parents to help him through his depression. Will has quadriplegia and depends on people doing everything for him. When they meet, they didn’t expect that getting to know each other would change their life forever. 

Did I read this book because of the movie hype? Why, yes, I did. Sue me. I haven’t seen the film yet though (strong believer that it’s better to read the book before watching the movie) but I have been wanting to since June! The anticipation’s killing me!

Back to book business though. OMG. The tears dropped from the eyes! It was heartbreakingly sad and beautiful. It gave me smiles and fuzzy feelings. I read it in the unabridged audiobook version and can I just say that it was narrated PERFECTLY. <3.

My Goodreads rating: 5/5 because of all the feels.

2. The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress by Beryl Bainbridge

Rose travels to the USA to meet Washington. They go on a road trip in search of Dr. Wheeler, a man they know and want to find for different reasons. While on their journey, it becomes clear that Rose and Washington have nothing in common besides knowing Dr. Wheeler.

I don’t understand how some people liked this book? I couldn’t connect with the characters, I didn’t understand the point of their journey as it didn’t come full circle, something I needed. And the ending…I…don’t see the connection? Anti-climax, much? Urgh.

Beryl Bainbridge died before she had a chance to finish the story so maybe that’s why it feels incomplete. This could be her style but as I don’t know her other work, I find it hard to judge.

My Goodreads rating: 2/5

3. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

Told from the perspective of 9 year old Bruno, this story takes you on a tragic journey. Bruno’s family moves to a different country and feeling desolate in this strange place, Bruno goes on an adventure. During the adventure, he meets a new friend and despite their differences, the friendship grows but isn’t without consequences.

How awfully, horribly tragic is this story? I can’t say much more but it shocked me. The final chapters made me cry. That’s where I’ll leave it. Go read the book. Then watch the movie.

My Goodreads Rating: 4.5/5 because of the feels and the wonderful innocent style the author used to write this horrible story.

4. The Choice by Nicholas Sparks

Gabby Holland is agitated with her neighbor Travis Parker, whose dog must have impregnated her own with the way it struts unleashed around the neighborhood. It’s not until she sees another side of her neighbor that she has to let go of her prejudices. 

Despite its very unlikely ending, I enjoyed this story. I would have liked it more if the two timelines hand’t felt separated but had come full circle towards the true storyline of this book and hadn’t been just a glimpse of an important moment.

My Goodreads rating: 3/5

5. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Rachel takes the same train to London and back every single day. While on the train, she watches the inhabitants of the houses lining up next to the rails and imagines what their life must be like. Until one day, she sees something that will irrevocably change her life.

I usually don’t like thrillers. For some reason I lose interest halfway and let the book rest for an eternity to eventually toss it back to my TBR pile. But with this book, I finished it in one setting. Do I get a brownie for that? I wanted to find out what had happened, it was fast paced and I changed my opinion at least five times who might have done it. The characters, however, made very weird choices.

My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 for keeping me captivated

6. The Painted Bridge by Wendy Wallace

Anna Palmer has been placed into Lake House, an asylum for genteel women of a delicate nature, against her will by her husband on the ground of hysteria. Nothing is what it seems but how will she let everyone see the truth that she is, in fact, sane?

Nothing happens. At all. I’m not sure why I needed to read all these pages to come to the end. It wasn’t fascinating like I expected it to be and halfway it became clear what the real reason was for her placement. There were a few beautiful descriptions here and there but I fell asleep all the time. I don’t think that’s a good thing, haha! I liked the element of one of the doctors making photographs to diagnose a mental illness through a photo, though. I just wish something more had happened with it. Or the doctor.

My Goodreads rating: 3/5

7. The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

A collection of five mini stories. They are to wizard children what fairytales are to Muggles. These stories also contain notes by professor Dumbledore, sharing his opinion on some changes that happened throughout history.

I suppose this book received a lot more hype than it should be worth it because of the fandom. Was I overwhelmed with it though? Not really. But I liked the mini stories nevertheless, my favourite being The Fountain of Fair Fortune (second to the Tale of the Three Brothers). I loved the remarks on the Malfoy family!! HAHAHA. It’s also an easy, quick read if you ever need something light. And with light I mean the kind of light Harry and Ron would appreciate. Not Hermione light.

My Goodreads rating: 4/5

8. The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

Hastings is a guest at Emily Inglethorp’s house, an elder woman who has remarried. Everyone is convinced that the man married for money and then, Emily Inglethorp is murdered. Hastings decides to get help from Hercule Poirot, a  detective from Belgium.

It was a quick read and I snorted so many times because, let’s be honest for a minute, Poirot is ridiculous! He deduces crime in the oddest ways. But I like he’s Belgian. We have that in common. What bothered me was how the unraveling of the mystery happened without all the clues being there for the reader to pick up on. I like to think for myself, see if I can outwit Poirot but now I had not a chance of doing this.

My Goodreads rating: 3/5

That’s it for July! Which books did you read?

Reading: The Invasion of the Tearling

I went through a teeny, tiny reading slump after finishing Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (as you might have guessed from this Currently Reading post, I didn’t particularly enjoy the book) but with my new Netflix account and me binge watching The Tudors and Reign, I realized I’m a huge – and I sincerely mean HUGE – fan of historical fictions, especially when royalty is added to the mixture with a touch of treason so you don’t know whom you can trust anymore (there’s a reason why I’m writing in this genre but I had forgotten how much I’ve loved (and missed) this!!)

That’s what helped me to decide on reading the second book of the Queen of the Tearling series, named The Invasion of the Tearling, by Erika Johansen and my God, AM I IN LOVE WITH THIS! This is a series set in the future with historical features all throughout the story interwoven with a touch of magic. Two kingdoms, two queens, are at war and only the strongest one can win. And, there are a few handsome men present at court. Or in the realm. Whatever. Things like that make me shuffle on the ball of my feet with a mischievous grin on my face, hands linked together behind my back. Oh, and they help me with plotting too. 🙂

And guess what? ROMANCE ISN’T A PART OF THIS STORY (yet?). I don’t know why I’ve put that in capitals as I’m a sucker for love and romance but maybe I love royals kicking ass a lot more, hmm?. I mean, yeah, there’s lust and some (tiny) hints of romance but our young queen, Kelsea, is too busy saving her realm from the invasion of the Red Queen of Mortmesne’s army (not the most original name, I know) than to truly care about romance. Peh-lease. Although, there is a handsome (dangerous?) stranger appearing into her chambers in the middle of the night, offering her something valuable in return for his freedom. And if that doesn’t keep our queen awake, then surely it keeps the Queen’s Guard awake as their protective hands catch our queen each time she…disappears.

I’m not sure if this story is heading towards a full five-star rating though.

There is the one thing that bothers me as it pulls me out of the story each time it happens. It’s not yet clear why it happens – and I’m sure it will be explained at some point – but it’s thrown upon me with such a straight contrast to the world I’m experiencing, it frustrates me, causing me to stop reading for the day. For some reason, I don’t want to read about that particular bit when I’m enjoying Kelsea’s cringe-worthy moments with Pen, which are also so adorable if short-lived. :’)

Question when you’ve read the books: would you say this belongs to Young Adult or Adult?

It’s rated both genres on Goodreads which confuses me. I’d rather put this in an Adult category as there are explicit descriptions, a lot more explicit than I’m used to in YA anyway- but then again, when you consider the age range of YA (16-25ish) I don’t think many readers 18+ would be offended. But I fear that YA is sometimes associated with readers 13+ and then…well, that’s a whole different matter. What are your thoughts on the genre matter? YA or Adult?

Or am I being a prude? HA. I wouldn’t be surprised.

Currently Reading: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell is THE author you should look for if you want to read a contemporary novel; whether you’re a teenager or an adult, she’s got it all! Each time I read one of her books, I’m convinced it’s the best one yet. With Carry On, a fiction based upon her fictive fiction in Fangirl (which I love so much! Read my review here), Rowell has tried something different: a young adult fantasy. To say that the stakes were high when it came out, isn’t even a fraction of the truth. My fingers itched to start reading this new book of hers, especially after watching Katytastic’s review on youtube.

HOT or NOT?

Eh. Hmm. Good question. Let’s be honest. I’m not a fan. I’m currently at page 279 and I’ve got to admit that I’ve considered DNF-ing. Multiple times. Especially when reading Simon’s point of view. You might already know this if you follow me on twitter and/or Goodreads. The moaning is intense. I expected so much more of a Rainbow Rowell novel.

There are so many things wrong with this novel but the main issue is the fact that she wrote a book based upon a fictive fiction, in a fiction called Fangirl, that’s clearly based upon the Harry Potter series. It’s not even hiding  the similarities. It’s all there for each and every Harry Potter fan to read (and get annoyed with).

That should have been the first hint that it wouldn’t be as grand as all her previous works. After all the commotion of Fifty Shades of Grey being based upon Twilight (and not looking remotely like Twilight, except for the rich Grey family and Anna’s awkwardness), I would have expected things to explode with this one. I didn’t have an issue with FSoG (it originally being a fan fiction and all) but I do have a problem with this. It’s not original. FSoG is original-er (but less good in the writing aspect).

The second issue: the story begins at year eight and Rowell expects her readers to know all about Simon, his world and what happened in the previous years, which makes reading it somewhat abstract and confusing, especially at the beginning.

I don’t know about you but with fantasy, I need world-building. No matter how much it looks like Harry Potter, it isn’t. Even A Very Potter Musical understands this and it IS Harry Potter…or well, a totally awesome parody of Harry Potter, at least. When you add names and creatures, you have to explain them. A pixie in The Mortal Instruments, isn’t the same as a pixie in Harry Potter nor would/could it be the same in Carry On or in the Iron Fey series. Describe what a pixie is, for Crowley’s sake! Or where Watford is situated. You’re writing a fantasy! Not a contemporary. There has to be descriptions and explanations!

Don’t get me started on the spells/incantations!

That’s right, Amy. They’re cringe-worthy, and I don’t even mean most of the time, but all the time! The spells are based upon sayings and children’s songs. Why? I don’t know. Because it didn’t need much “research”? If there’s one thing that makes Harry Potter ah-mazing, it’s the spells and the way you can link it to Latin. There’s an origin and a system in Harry Potter. The spells in Carry On…meh.  At least the explanation of why they’re spells is somewhat…okay. Ish.

Each time I see the book resting beside my bed, calling me to continue my reading, I have the exact same reaction:

The only, and I seriously mean the only, thing that keeps me from DNF-ing this book, is Baz. He’s a great character and his point of views are the best. He arrived at the right point. If he hadn’t, I would have stopped reading it already. Now, I’m just high with Baz and I sort of have to see how things develop with him (if you know what I mean, *suggestive eyebrow rolling inserted here*).

Would I say that Carry On is hot, based upon where I’m currently situated in the story? …..Weeeeellll….let’s just say: it’s not.

What are you reading this week?

and more importantly: are you enjoying it??

Review: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Image from Goodreads

Title: To Kill a Mockingbird
Author: Harper Lee
Genre: Classic – Historical
Series: To Kill a Mockingbird #1
Publisher: Arrow Books
DOP: 2010 (First published 1960)
Pages: 309
Rating: 4.5/5
ISBN: 978-0-09-954948-2

Synopsis on the flap:

“Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

A lawyer’s advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee’s classic novel – a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with exuberant humour the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina of one man’s struggle for justice. But the weight of history will only tolerate so much.

There are so many different aspects that are dealt with in To Kill a Mockingbird, that I find it extremely hard to pick out one and explain what I felt accurately. One of the first things that I must acknowledge, is Harper Lee’s exceptional writing style and the sublime journey she created for our main characters, Scout and Jem Finch, to grow naturally and critically in a story set against the backdrop of Southern America in the 1930s. One way she used to enhance the growing up in a rapidly growing darker background, is by using the viewpoint of a child and then, playing with said viewpoint.

Continue reading Review: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

My Summer in Pictures & Tweets

The first leaves on the trees are changing their colours. The sun’s hiding behind the grey clouds and the rain has begun to fall. The weather is changing and my winter blanket has made its first appearance again. Although autumn is probably my favourite season of the year (minus the influx of spiders in my bedroom!) I wanted to reach out towards summer one more time before I cuddle back on the sofa with my mug, blanket and books.

Continue reading My Summer in Pictures & Tweets

Review: Bared to You by Sylvia Day

Photo by GoodReads

Title: Bared to You
Author: Sylvia Day
Genre: Contemporary Romance
 – Erotic Adult Romance
Series: Crossfire #1
Publisher: Penguin Books
DOP: 2012
Pages: 375 (ebook)
Rating: 2/5
ISBN: 978-1-40-591024-8
Twitter: @SylDay

Eva has just moved to Manhattan to start her new job. When timing her route to work, she meets Gideon, a mysterious and handsome man. Unconsciously, she’s drawn to Gideon when they meet again. Soon Eva finds herself amidst a tumultuous relationship in which Eva has to confront her past and move forward. However, Gideon has some demons of his own too. Will they be able to leave their dark pasts behind and have a future together, or are they beginning something that’s already set to fail?

Sylvia Day should be a familiar name when you’re a fan of the erotic romance genre whether you’ve read her books or not. Not only is she the #1 New York Times bestselling author, but she’s also #1 bestselling author international. She’s got more than twenty award-wining books and her novels have been translated into 41 languages. Her work has been on top of lists and you can’t walk into a bookstore anymore without bumping into a shelf or two filled with her books.

Bared to You received a lot of attention when it was first published (around the time when Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James was immensely popular and it desperately tried to get the same attention by cloning as much of the FSoG covers as possible). Throw all these facts together and I was convinced I was missing out on something huge if I didn’t start reading this fast. Day has been praised by so many but unfortunately, I’m not one of them. In fact, once I started reading this, I couldn’t believe my eyes. This has been the biggest disappointment since I read Haven of Obedience by Marina Anderson.

Continue reading Review: Bared to You by Sylvia Day