Book Review Follow-Up: What writers can learn from Across the Universe.

So today we’re looking at Across the Universe by Beth Revis. The review’s over here. But that post was long enough without this tacked onto the end, so I figured I’d make a new post of it and see how that goes.

Note that in this section, there will very possibly be spoilers, so read at your own risk! 

(Preferably after you read Across the Universe so you know what parts of the book I’m referring to, but I’m sure it’ll make sense either way.)

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Book Review: Across the Universe, by Beth Revis

“What does it take to survive
aboard a spaceship fueled by lies?”

Across the Universe is a dystopian science-fiction romance where nothing as it seems and the only person you can truly trust is yourself. Author Beth Revis has created a book both beautiful and horrifying, and amidst the stars and the confusing-yet-wonderful bloom of first love, you’ll find blood and horrors that tap directly into the subconscious and just know how to make you cringe.

The book is told from the first-person points-of-view of the two main characters. Amy, a cryogenically-frozen teenaged girl from ‘Sol-Earth’  who finds herself abruptly awoken fifty years early and thrown into a world so different from her own that she can’t even fathom how to adjust, and Elder, the ever-questioning heir to the Godspeed’s all-knowing dictator (Eldest).

Eldest is hiding something. Hiding a lot of somethings, actually. Elder’s absolutely positive of this. And since his father-figure and teacher won’t tell him a thing, Elder’s determined to find the truth on his own… And one such truth leads him to Amy and the other hundred-or-so Sol-Earth men and women frozen in a secret level on the bottom of the ship, cargo to be dethawed once they reach their destination: Centauri-Earth, the decided location of the first human colony outside of the solar system.

And Elder’s fascinated by her. In a ship where carefully-regulated breeding has rid the two-thousand residents of all racial differences, a pale girl with hair like a sunset is both foreign and beautiful to him.

Meanwhile, Amy’s wake-up call wasn’t an accident. In fact, if Elder hadn’t come along and rescued her, it would have been murder. It’s the first in a string of attempted (or even successful) murders on the Sol-Earth humans, two of which are are her parents, an important scientist and a high-up military man, and the reasons she came on board the Godspeed to begin with. And on top of that, Amy’s appearance and her way of thinking sets her apart from almost everyone on the ship… And Eldest doesn’t like that. “The first cause of discord is difference,” he tells Elder a number of times, and Eldest will do just about anything to keep discord off of his ship.

Side characters include Harley, a psych-ward friend of Elder’s who loves to paint and boost people’s spirits but has a few demons of his own, and Doc, the primary doctor on the Godspeed and an ally of Elder’s… At least, Elder’s pretty sure he is.

Across the Universe carries the readers through each page with many, many questions burning for answers. Can Amy find her place in this foreign steel-walled world? Can she learn to trust Elder, despite his connection to Eldest? Will Elder uncover the truth he seeks? And can the two of them find a way to stop the murders before it’s too late?

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How to Break the Rules of Writing (and Get Away With It!)

Well, in light of a frustrating encounter with an invasive computer repairman, I’m feeling very… defiant, today.

So I’m going to help you break the rules. Sound good? I think it does.

Thus far, the most complete list of  rules I’ve found are Superhero Nation’s Five First-Time Novelist’s Mistakes. SN’s writer, B. McKenzie, is actually a very brilliant man besides being an old friend, but as I read these rules he’s laid out I keep finding ways to break them. He’s a pretty good sport, though, so I’m sure he won’t mind.

So… ‘on with it’, am I right?

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Lessons From My WIP, Part 2: Weed out your ‘trophies’.

https://i1.wp.com/www.trophyshopak.com/Trophy%20Image%203.pngMy second segment of Lessons From My WIP is on weeding out your novel’s trophies. Trophies in this case are in the same vein as ‘Author’s Darlings’, but covering a much wider range. And while source after source after source say to kill your darlings, to murder them viciously where they stand, it’s still something that the average novelist struggles with well into publication.

So how do you identify your trophies? And what can you do to prevent the collection of more?

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Book Review: I Am Number Four, by Pittacus Lore

“They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.

They killed them all.

I am Number Four.
I am next.”

I Am Number Four is a YA science fiction, and the first in a proposed six-book series called the Lorien Legacies, written under the name Pittacus Lore.

The book is told from the point of view of a fifteen-year-old boy named John Smith. Or Daniel, or any of the dozens of other identities he’s been forced to assume for the last eleven years of his life. The only name he truly has isn’t a name at all, but a number: Number Four. And if the enemy find him, he’s dead.

But who are the enemy? I believe the better question is, ‘Who is Number Four?’ John–I’ll call him that, since that’s what he goes by for most of the book–is the fourth of nine gifted survivors of the doomed planet Lorien. Each of the nine was given a number and a guardian, then blessed with a protection spell: They may only be killed in order, One and then Two and then Three and so on. Otherwise, they’re close to invincible.

The book opens with a third agonizing scar appearing on John’s ankle, and his guardian Henri burning all that they own. Number Three was dead, hunted down by the Mogadorians who destroyed their home-planet in the first place, and John is next in line. So they have to disappear, destroy all evidence of their current identities and truck halfway across the country to whatever obscure town Henri thinks they’ll be safe in next. For a little while, anyway.

This winds up being Paradise, Ohio. A small town… but as John soon discovers, the first place that feels like home.

Over the course of the book, John–with the help and protection of Henri–must balance school bullies and the first girl he’s ever truly cared about with learning to control his Legacies (Lorien powers, to put it simply) and dealing with the ever-present threat of discovery and certain death at the hands of the Mogadorians hanging over his head. Especially when they get word that the Mogs might be closer than they feared, and John is faced with a decision: Flee Paradise and vanish yet again from the enemy’s clutches, or stay with the girl he loves in the only place he’s ever truly belonged?

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How Not to Anger Your Reader

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This evening I finished re-reading one of my favorite books, Naughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman. And once again, I found myself confused. ‘I love this book to pieces,’ I told myself. ‘Why is it that I always, always feel so unsatisfied after I read it?’

And then it hit me: After a book that I could really and truly relate to, Blackman ended it in such a way that entirely lost my compassion as a reader.

If you haven’t read the book and don’t want spoilers, stop here! Otherwise, I’ve got an intriguing bit of advice to offer you, so keep on reading.

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