Across the Universe - Beth Revis
Trigger warnings: attempted rape, what seems like unnecessary abuse to the female lead.

Now, this book has me a little torn on the ratings. Because while there were things that really just HURT to read (and not in a good way, I mean like she should NOT have put that in her book), I admit I still enjoyed the novel as a whole. I loved the concept and many of the twists made me literally gasp . . . well, except for one, which I called from the beginning, but maybe that's one we're supposed to know about.

But let's get the negatives out right away because almost everything I didn't like about Across the Universe are issues I find EXTREMELY important--especially in YA books, and ESPECIALLY in YA books that more girls will read than boys.

First, the attempted rape scene. Is it a new fad or something to write a scene for a the lead woman protag to almost be sexually violated? No, seriously, is it? Because I've been seeing it a lot in new YA books, especially those targeting a young female audience, and it's making me sick. And worst off, it served no real purpose in the book other than showing (though it had already been shown) that the people aren't reacting to situations like people should. I get that that particular point wanted to be put across, but putting this poor girl through that pain, and then dropping the issue for the rest of the book pretty much is inexcusable to me. Maybe it's because I have a particular rough background with the issue, but I don't think it's fair to have the female lead go through such a traumatic experience just so we readers get "oh, something's not right." Especially since we already got that a long time ago.

Secondly, to make things worse, a couple chapters after this Amy gets her will taken away (and yes, this review has some spoilers, but I won't go as far to say by what). She gets abused AGAIN, this time mentally. And this time the abuse is only for Elder's development. So her first abuse was for our understanding, the second was for Elder's character development. There's nothing I hate more than the abuse of a woman for the sake of a man's character development. It happens ALL the time in stories and media, and it just hurts and it makes me sad.

Thirdly, it's Elder's obsession with Amy that makes me feel really uncomfortable. Yes, I get that she's different and that makes her super interesting. But in the beginning when he's thinking about her, I feel violated. I didn't want them to get together, I wanted her to run, yes, run Amy! Far away! (I'd like to point out as the book progressed I forgot about that scene, as did the characters, and Elder seemed to gravitate towards her because of the way she was, every aspect of her personality, etc., not just how exotic she looked, so thank you, Revis, for that).

Okay. Fourthly, and lastly, I come to the issue of the extremely light racism that came across here. I get that Revis wanted to portray a mono-ethnic culture (and goodness, she stressed the point enough), but I did get a little uncomfortable when Amy thought at one point, "they all look the same!" or something to that effect, and also "and I'm so bright" in comparison to them. It just made me cringe. Also, when describing the ship's population for the first time, she kept using words relating to food, which always gets me going.

ANYWAYS. I'm sorry to have ranted on so much about the negatives. Because, as you see, I gave this book four stars! But yes, these issues are important to me. And yes, I think they're all sorts of wrong and should have had no part in the story. However, I did enjoy the overall story. I enjoyed the plights of a culture stuffed onto a ship for over 250 years, I enjoyed the concept of the Elder/Eldest and how that concept came to be. I loved how there was no "evil/good" because you could sympathize with both ways of thinking. You could understand why everyone did what they did, even if it sickened you. And Elder's thoughts really put those feelings across well.

And Harley. God, I love Harley. I'm going to go out on a limb here without having read any other reviews and say that he's probably everyone's favorite character. What a vibrant personality. I knew how his story was going to end, even if I think it didn't have a function in the overall picture (and even if it did make me really sad, like oh please WHY sad).

And the writing was very nice, GORGEOUS at some points.

So yeah, I'm looking forward to reading the second installment.