Across the Universe
is a really cool, accessible scifi story combined with murder mystery. Just think about being trapped on a ship while someone is murdering people and you have no idea why and no one to turn to. History has been rewritten, there's a crazy man in charge, and the populace is made up of vacant, empty-minded workers. What can you do?
While I felt this book started out slowly, it drew me in, and by the end I was really fascinated with the twists and turns the story took. Some of it is pretty transparent and the male main character, Elder, could use a little bit more personality, but to me it was the claustrophobia of the ship combined with the psychological horror of being stuck onboard with hundreds of people slightly smarter than zombies and nothing to do about it that kept me enjoying it.
There is a lot of creepy stuff in this book that only increases in creepiness as you think about it. Even an explanation given of Lincoln's speech in this book has some ooginess to it. Man, I would not like to be stuck on this ship.
Unfortunately I was not a big fan of the ending. It just sort of... ended after some scenes that felt like they were supposed to be big and climactic, which mostly failed for me. Yes, it's a resolution, but it was unsatisfactory for me and I would have liked a little more focus on the big bad, their motivations, and the other characters' coming to terms with the ending they created. At the same time, though, it didn't feel overly set-up for a sequel, which was nice. There are certainly more stories that could be written about this ship, and seeing as how there's a #1 next to its title here on Goodreads there will be, but this book is nicely contained, a good story.
For some reason this story had a lot of parallels with the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness, for me, at least. I didn't love it nearly as much as I did those books, but the idea of an inescapable life you are forced into sort of carried over, with the female character as an outsider, a creepy bad guy - it was definitely missing the frantic pace and bloodiness, though. If you like this book, though, definitely check out The Knife of Never Letting Go.
Yay for fun scifi! A good summer read, I think.