Tag Archives: Mystery

Review: Across the Universe

Across the Universe

Across the Universe
By Beth Revis
(Razorbill, Hardcover, 9781595143976, January 2011, 416pp.)

The Short of It:

Across the Universe has a lot going on in its pages, but teen readers will have a hard time putting it down.

The Rest of It:

Amy, her parents, and a host of others are frozen in a type of extended sleep until they arrive at the new planet. Their trip is expected to take three hundred years. For the duration, the folks on Godspeed, the ship transporting them, are in charge of creating new generations while on board, and preserving the folks that are living as frozen cargo. Except, they aren’t doing a good a job of it because there is a murderer running around unplugging everyone before their time.

As entertaining as this book is, and as fun as teens will find it, it contains almost “too much” information and goes in too many directions. It’s dystopian sci-fi (my favorite part), but it’s also a mystery, a thriller, a love story, a coming of age story, fantasy and an action adventure tale all rolled into one.

The feeling I had while reading it, was that the author wanted it to be many things. I get that. It’s a first novel and I can see why the author would want to guarantee wide appeal. BUT, it was almost as if the author just chose a storyline from a stack of cards and then went with it, but only to a certain point. Then another card was chosen, and so on and so on. An unfortunate situation for this adult reader because I really enjoyed the characters and wanted to know more about them, but once you started to know something of importance…the story would veer off into a different direction.

In the author’s defense, teens do have a very abbreviated attention span and it is geared towards young adults, of which, I am certainly not. So I understand that what I found frustrating, might not even register with a teen. I do want to say that there is quite a bit of sex. If your son or daughter plans to read this, you might want to have a talk with them about it before they start. It’s not overly gratuitous, but they are trying to create new generations and there is a lot of mating going on as the seasons change.

In summary, my favorite part of the story was the whole freezing/planning for the new planet. There is a riveting scene where Amy is frozen for the trip and that scene literally gave me goosebumps. I wish the story had continued along that line, the colonization of the new planet, etc. On the flip side, I could totally see this playing out in movie form. Overall, a good first attempt at a genre I seem to be liking more and more each day.

Source: Borrowed from the library.

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Review: The Little Stranger

The Little Stranger Book Cover

The Little Stranger
By Sarah Waters
Penguin Group
April 2009 (Hardback)
480pp

*No Spoilers*

The Short of It:

Delicious. I ate it up.

The Rest of It:

Dr. Faraday is called to care for a patient over at Hundreds Hall, an estate in various degrees of decay. Hundreds Hall used to be grand with its stunning rooms and its surrounding gardens, but the Ayres family has seen some rough times and is no longer able to keep it up.  During his call to the house, Dr. Faraday is charmed by the beauty of the house and is also quite taken with its inhabitants, Mrs. Ayres, her daughter Caroline and her son Roderick. But there is something else there as well. A darkness, a presence…something evil within the house and Dr. Faraday has no idea what he has gotten himself into.

The house is a living, breathing entity. The dreariness, the dampness, the cold… I could smell the mustiness and hear the echo of footsteps in the hallway. It’s creepy and when things are implied, yet not fully explored, you wind up holding your breath, waiting for a resolution. I suppose The Little Stranger is a ghost story, but it could just as easily be a psychological thriller depending on how you look at it. It’s perfect in that it keeps you guessing and never gives you too much at any one time.

The characters are well-drawn and fully fleshed out and this can be said for some of the lesser characters as well. The story is told from Dr. Faraday’s point of view and there is a bit of foreshadowing which I found most enjoyable. There is one part of the storyline that I had a hard time wrapping my brain around though and it had to do with the relationship between Dr. Faraday and Caroline. I didn’t buy it. However, one could argue at that point that the characters were not themselves. Thinking that, is sort of how I got past it but the relationship disturbed me a bit and I’m not really sure why.

I’m pretty sure The Little Stranger will be on my list of faves for this year.  Not so much because there was a lot of action (there wasn’t) or that I loved the characters (I didn’t) but because of how it made me feel while reading it. It was a treat, a real indulgence and I found myself dipping in and out of it as I’ve been known to do with a jar of Nutella.

I would like to discuss the ending with those who have read it, so if you’ve read it, comment below that you’ve read and I’ll take the conversation offline so we don’t list any spoilers in the replies.

Source: Borrowed from the library.