When the publishers made the first chapter of Across the Universe available as a teaser, I was drawn in. When they said it was the best first chapter you’ll ever read, they were not kidding! I waited impatiently for the book to come out. I actually grabbed it off the shelf and shrieked, “Mine!” before I could stop myself. The rest of the chapters have not disappointed!
Amy’s parents are important people who will be frozen for a 300 year journey to a new planet. Amy wants to be with them, but is having second thoughts. She has a boyfriend and a life and is not sure she wants to give that up. She watches her parents go through the freezing process before she steps into the box herself. The writing of the freezing process is terrifying and intense. It reminded me about Neal Shusterman’s Unwind, where he writes the horrifying chapter where he explains the unwinding process. Amy is awakened, prematurely by an unknown person who wants some of the frozen passengers dead. Her red hair and pale skin stand out against the olive skinned, dark haired passengers who after generations of inbreeding look alike. She navigates this strange space, dystopia with the help of Elder, the ship’s future leader. There is something very wrong with the passengers of the ship, Godspeed. It is almost like they are drugged. Amy and Elder must try and learn the ship’s secrets before more people, like her parents, are unplugged and killed.
Beth Revis kept the mystery going throughout the story. I wanted to know the ship’s secrets. The ending made it seem like a sequel was coming, but it could stand on its own. I thought the pacing was good. It was bleak and creepy. Dystopian fans will enjoy it!
Some ideas for discussing with teens:
Would you choose to stay on Earth or join your parents?
Would you be willing to be frozen?
What are you initial thoughts of Elder and Eldest?
Why would they keep the frozen passengers a secret from the rest of the people on the ship.
Discuss the three causes of discord.
Are lies necessary to save people from themselves?
What do you think will happen next as the passengers become more aware?
Was Orion right to do what he did?
Talk about Harley and his art.