Across the Universe by Beth Revis
What a pleasure to read some great science fiction for teens! At age 17, Amy joins her parents on the trip of a lifetime, or many lifetimes, as they are frozen for a voyage of 300 years to a colonize a new planet. Flash ahead several hundred years and the ship Godspeed that carries the frozen bodies has created its own society over the centuries. 16-year-old Elder is the next leader of the ship, chosen from when he was an infant to lead. He has been raised and taught by Eldest, the current leader. But something is going wrong. There are secrets everywhere he turns, and no one will give him the answers he needs to be the next Eldest. To make things worse, someone has begun attacking the frozen people, and it just might be the people Elder trusts most. This taut thriller of a novel marries mystery, science fiction and romance into a gripping read.
Revis has written a genre-bending novel that will attract many different types of readers. Her building of the world inside the ship is amazing in its attention to detail. The complexities of this small world flying through space are solid and fascinating. Readers will slowly come to understand the secret horrors of life aboard the ship and are guaranteed feel claustrophobic as the metal walls seem to close in.
Amy is a heroine with plenty of spunk and attitude. Elder is a more subtle hero, filled with self-doubt and sometimes self-loathing, he is a complex character who has been living with lies entire life. It is Elder that is the amazing creation in this novel. A boy who is destined to lead but doesn’t see how.
I do have one quibble with the book, but it comes so close to the end that I don’t want to ruin the novel for anyone. It was one twist too many for me and a breaking of literary conventions. I came away frustrated by the ending but blown away by the novel itself.
An enticing blend of genres, this book would be an ideal book talk choice for librarians looking for a title that will appeal to most teens. It has an amazing opening chapter that makes it impossible to put down. Appropriate for ages 14-17.
Reviewed from copy received from Penguin.