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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Victoria Reviews: The Body Electric by Beth Revis

Considering I tore through Revis’s Across the Universe trilogy as quickly as I could, I was ecstatic when I heard she was releasing a new book earlier this year. I bought the book as soon as it came out, but alas, school and finals pushed back my reading until the end of the semester (it seems to do that quite often). I’ve been staring at that bright green cover all semester, and now I've finally had a chance to sit down and read The Body Electric. I tore through the book in one sitting, staying up half the night to find out what happens to Ella and Jack. This book was worth the wait, and Revis did not disappoint!
Ella Shepherd lives with her mother in New Venice, the heart of a new unified world and the worldly center of art, fashion, government, and technology. Ella works at the Reverie Mental Spa using technology her mother developed that allows people to access and relive their happiest memory. When Ella discovers the unique ability to enter into others’ reveries and sift through their deepest memories, suddenly her world shifts. The government is knocking at her door for help against terrorists, and Ella agrees to help until she meets Jack, who shows her that the government she trusts might not be telling her everything. Desperate to find out the truth about her father’s death, government corruption, and her own strange abilities, Ella sets off on an adventure of a lifetime, but she quickly realizes that everything is not what it seems, and the truth does not always set you free.
Revis makes science fiction look easy (and it’s not). The ease and grace with which she crafts her worlds, slipping in references, details, and explanations to fill everything out…it’s seamless, and it’s brilliant. The Body Electric is a stand-alone novel, but it has connections to Revis’s other books, the Across the Universe trilogy, as well. The trilogy explores Amy and Elder’s adventures in deep space on their journey to a new planet, but The Body Electric explores what was happening back on earth while Godspeed headed off into darkness. I really enjoyed reading through and picking out the references to Across the Universe as I went, as well as references to other works (such as "I Sing the Body Electric", the poem by Walt Whitman for which the book was named). There’s so much packed into this book that I know I’ll find more and more every time I reread it (and believe me, I will definitely be rereading it)!
Revis takes readers on a twisting, fantastic journey through the gleaming city of New Venice. The book has all you could ask for: eye screens, computer bracelets, androids, microscopic robots, computer hacking, uprisings, all the really fun stuff in science fiction (except space, but that’s in Across the Universe…and time travel, but I’m crossing my fingers for a future Revis book that deals with this). It’s fun, it’s intricate, it’s dazzling, and particularly if you’re a sci-fi fan, you need to check out Revis’s books!
I loved The Body Electric, and it now has a well-earned place on my favorites shelf next to the rest of Beth Revis’s works! Her science fiction is fun, interesting, and well-thought out and researched. You can tell she puts a lot of effort into her work, and it shines through brilliantly. The Body Electric isn’t just fun and games, though; it also examines some deep questions about society, terrorism, and what it means to be human. Revis does not shy away from such questions, and her exploration of these themes is both beautiful and thoughtful.
I’d recommend this book to anyone who’s a fan or either YA or science fiction, particularly fans of both. I’d also recommend it to anyone who enjoyed These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. For those interested, at the end of The Body Electric, Revis has included an excellent short story she’s written called “The Turing Test” about a young woman who must determine through conversation with two test subject which is the human and which is the computer. It’s a fascinating story, one that has unexpected and interesting connections to The Body Electric.

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