Friday, December 2, 2011

Across the Universe

Amy's parents are needed on the spaceship that will travel for 300 years to a new planet. In order to make the trip, they will be cryo frozen. Although she is not essential, Amy decides to make the trip with them. The problem is that someone has thawed her out before arrival and she cannot be re-frozen. Will she adjust to life on the spaceship under the dictatorship of the Eldest? Will she and her new friend, Elder, figure out who is now thawing out and killing her shipmates before her parents become the next victims? Is it worth preventing discord by taking away all independent thought? This young adult novel answers those questions and many more before its conclusion.

Although there is a book to follow (A Million Suns), this book is one of those rare works that can actually be read alone and leave you fairly satisfied. Across the Universe is part mystery, part science fiction and part suspense. The viewpoint switches from chapter to chapter – you have either Amy's point of view or Elder's point of view – not an easy task for the writer but a wonderful way to tell the story. I read it very quickly but thoroughly enjoyed it.

The only weak point seemed to be the relationship between Elder and Amy. He really likes her but it is unclear if she returns the emotion or is looking for some kind of comfort in this alien environment. The cover suggests lots of kissing is going to happen in this book but there are only a couple of scenes. There is actually a very suspenseful moment when Amy is almost raped (by another character) that really is more true to the plot that her instantly falling in love with Elder.

What did across the universe have to do with my faith? The issues the book raised of telling the truth, critical thought, free will, and qualities of good leadership are all issues that come up in Christian beliefs. Jesus proclaims himself as the truth but many people have learned how to twist even his truth into self-serving directives. Many churches, even today, tell folks what they must believe and insist on telling them how to live their lives. There is no questioning the given meaning of scripture. There has also arisen a Christian movement that proposes we do not have free will but are predestined to either believe or be eternally damned. Although all three of these can easily be seen in today's churches, these things are far from new ideas or ways of controlling their followers. The Church in the Middle Ages is a prime example. Probably the understanding of good leadership is a more modern concept. The book shows that a good leader does allow truth, critical thought, and free will. The question I have to ask myself is this: am I being a Christian good leader?

I recommend this book, especially for those who enjoy mysteries and science fiction.

Happy Reading!


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