Thursday, January 13, 2011

Reading Across the Universe across the country

While on my flight from one side of the continent (Georgia) to the other (California), I also managed to fly across the universe.
Across the Universe, by Beth Revis has just been released.  I left my cold icy hometown for different place, just like Amy does in the book. Only I wasn't stuck in a cryogenic freezer, but on a narrow seat in coach class.
Things didn't go too well on that flight; there was too much turbulence and the TV screens were broken.  But things weren't going well on the Godspeed either.
Amy was supposed to be woken up when she reached the new planet she was going to help colonize with her parents, but someone woke her up a bit too early.

Oops.  Now she's stuck living on a gigantic spaceship and it doesn't look like they'll be landing anytime soon.  Mom and Daddy are still frozen because they'll be needed once they hit Centauri-Earth, so Amy is on her own with all the people aboard the Godspeed.
This ship is run by Eldest, a man who has complete control.  He can do pretty much whatever he wants in this fascist little spaceship society, and to him, the goal is keep everyone complacent.
Oddly enough, when I was in high school, I thought a great way to keep a society happy was to put antidepressants in their water. I do realize now that this is not such a great idea.  But this is not too different from Eldest's idea. But I won't go further into that; I don't want to spoil anything.
Amy is shocked by how the spaceship is run, how the people act, and how mangled Earth's history is (i.e., Hitler was a great leader, Lincoln ended the Civil War by sending the slaves back to Africa).  She doesn't think they act like humans for the most part.
And it's true; most of them act like sheep.  The only normal ones are those in the psych ward.
Seriously.  Psych ward is where you go if you're really human. If you're smart, or creative, or interesting to talk to, that's where you'll be.
So of course that's where the freakish-looking Amy lives.
Everyone aboard the ship who is NOT frozen looks very similar.  They're 'monoethnic,' or at least, so many ehtnicities have been breeding for so long everyone kinda looks the same.  They're mutts, and poor little pale freckled redhead Amy does not look right to them.
While many people are scared of her, others see how such a normal girl from Earth is so extraordinary aboard the spaceship.  Not only does she look different, but she knows things others do not.  She strikes up a friendship with Harley, an artist in the psych ward who loves the color of sunset, though he has never seen one, and Elder, a teenage boy who is destined to become the next Eldest.
The three of them team together in a way, trying to make sure the cryo-frozen inhabitants are not unfrozen and left to drown in cold water, which unfortunately seems to keep happening.
Amy cannot help but wonder why she was unfrozen; why she'll never see the new planet, why she can't just go back in the freezer until they reach the new planet, why everyone treats her oddly, why everyone on board is somehow not human, why someone is unplugging the cryo-frozen inhabitants and why didn't she just STAY ON EARTH?!
Fortunately, my airplane landed safely with no deaths, no drugged up inhabitants, no Hitler-is-great propaganda, and no treating redheads like freaks of nature.
Except, of course, for the ones in the book.  And I have to say, even though all these things happened in the book, it sure made my flight across the country much more enjoyable.

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