This was an okay book. I can't say I found it very exceptional or engaging because for the most part it was pretty easy for me to distance myself from it. The book's concepts and characters themselves are nothing to complain about. In fact, I found them fairly decent. They seemed characters that were fairly well-rounded and felt real, believable, but there was a lack of substance to them. A lack, I believe, of that extra level of depth that makes characters fully engaging, makes them people you care about outside of their situations, as individuals with intriguing personalities.
This was a book that felt like it told a decent story, but which lacked the level of depth that would have made it the gripping, potentially booming creation it could have been. As it is, it swept many people into awe, but it did not do so for me possibly because of one reason:
I've read a story very similar to this before.
Perhaps not all of you have heard of The Giver by Lois Lowry, but if you've read the book, let's say this: I feel the author either read the book and was somehow inspired by it, or, Beth Revis's book is coincidentally playing upon a great idea in a new form. Unfortunately, because of my exposure to The Giver some ten or more years ago, a lot of the "plot twists" and "horrifying" concepts introduced in this book were
1. already guessed by me
2. didn't have the impact that I felt they should have
and 3. seemed overall very predictable.
I've said it before, and I'll say it for Across the Universe now, too: When you can guess most of the plot twists in the book 300+ pages ahead of their revelation, it's a baaaaaad thing for a book said to fall under anything close to a "mysterious" category. *Grimaces* And I'm not saying it to be mean or harsh. I actually thought this book was a decent read. But whether it's because I've read The Giver and so nothing was a surprise to me, or, worse, whether the book really is that obvious and predictable-- it might have nothing to do with me. Maybe it was a good read for others. Maybe. But I found it pretty dry at least when it tried to surprise me. Which is a shame, because I feel like there was a lot of effort put into the book by the author to bring about that level of surprise and the horrifying effect certain revelations were supposed to have.
That's not to say that the book didn't wind up making me feel any emotions at all either. I actually grew quite fond of the two main characters, Amy and Elder, despite the fact that I feel like I wanted to see more from them. I enjoyed the plot, even though I was able to predict a fair number of things and my suspicions were often correct or on the right track.
And! I do plan on reading the sequel to Across the Universe-- A Million Suns.
Because by the end of the book, things actually started to pick up quite dramatically. I became emotionally and (more importantly) intelligently involved with the way things were left off by the end of the book. I would go so far as to say that I believe the second book will actually be better than the first, because I feel that a lot of the environment and situations in Across the Universe were necessarily controlled and slowly unfolding. It was not until everything was finally uprooted for our main characters and the people in power towards the end of the book that you got to the point where you could sit back and say, "Now things are getting good! Now we're getting somewhere!" And I truly feel that's going to be the case. Things are going to be in potentially some major upheaval by the time you pick up A Million Suns. At the very least, I'm hoping to see a ton of chaos. Across the Universe left us with the potential for a lot to happen, and I have faith that someone who could pull off a nearly 400 page book, with a plot like ones I've read, and still keep me interested throughout it-- could pull off something fresh and exciting now that things are finally going to hit the fan in the sequel.
My advice to readers is this: Yes. Read this book. Especially if you haven't read some old beautiful books like The Giver, you may find yourself entirely surprised by this more recent sci-fi mystery and part-thriller. For the first book she's ever written, Beth Revis did a commendable job. Just the fact that she was able to keep me reading through four hundred pages when I was predicting things at every turn is a pretty decent sign. If it had been worthless altogether, I would never have recommended it to you to read.
But give Across the Universe a shot. It feels almost like it can go a little slow sometimes, but it's a promising series from what I've read so far.
I'll be looking forward to reading A Million Suns hopefully in the near future, and I hope you give that one a shot as well. I'll be seeing you there.
Enjoy your reading.