Good YA Sci-Fi novels are few and far between. Author Beth Revis is hoping to change this with the release of her debut novel Across the Universe, the first in a new trilogy. The industry is already speculating that this novel might do for sci-fi what Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games Trilogy did for the Dystopian novels and Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga did for the paranormal genre. If this takes off, expect to see more space-based books on the way.
One of the nicest things about this novel is the fact that one of the two POVs features a female character. Think of all the most famous sci-fi books available for younger readers. Middle-grade series Pendragon by D.J. MacHale features a male protagonist, as does the teen edition of Orson Scott Card's famous Ender books. Sure, A Wrinkle in Time (one of my childhood favorites) has a female lead, but so many schools require the text that many younger readers turn up their noises at it (a true shame). Across the Universe is hoping to speak to a whole new generation of readers--teens no longer interested in middle-grade novels, but not quite ready for adult sci-fi. On top of that, the book is being marketed for readers who don't typically read the genre. I'll admit, sci-fi has never been my first choice of genre. Sometimes, it's hard to wrap my brain around certain concepts. The ideas introduced make my brain want to explode. Not Across the Universe, though. It isn't over-the-top with scientific elements.
The novel starts off with a girl named Amy and her parents as they are cryogenically-frozen and put onto a spaceship. An exploration team has been put together after probes find another life-sustaining planet 300 years away. The government freezes a group of people well-suited for exploring the new planet, and Amy is allowed to be frozen alongside her parents. However, something goes awry and Amy wakes up from her frozen sleep fifty years before the ship is scheduled to land on the new planet.
She meets a boy named Elder who is training to take over the ship's leadership once Eldest passes away. Elder is the 13th (14th? I forget...) generation born onboard the ship. Everyone's features have begun to blend together and look similar, so Amy looks exotic with her pale-skin and vibrant red-hair, a dangerous combination. Amy finds out that someone has been unplugging the frozens, essentially commiting murder. She seeks Elder's help to figure out what's going on before her parents are the next victims. discovers Together, they uncover a sinister plot that will carry over into the next novel. Incorportating a murder mystery with sci-fi elements felt refreshing, leaving the rest of the trilogy full of promise. It will be interesting to see what topic Revis tackles next.
There are things I both like and dislike about the cover. I LOVE the fact that it flips inside out to form a completely different dust jacket. Take a look:
What you see when you walk into a bookstore (sorry about the bad lighting...):
BUT THEN if you turn the cover inside out, you get this amazing jacket:
It's Elder's map of the spaceship! What a unique concept. Very innovative! While the original cover is eye-catching, it's also misleading. Looking at the jacket, many readers will assume Across the Universe is a love story. It's not. Maybe in subsequent books, since there is an intense attraction between the two, but not yet. One of my sci-fi-loving male co-workers thought the novel sounded interesting, but decided he didn't want to read it after seeing the cover despite my reassurance that it wasn't a romance. He'll probably read it when I turn the cover inside out, though. (That's how we'll get the guys to read this one...trick them! I mean, look at that inside cover. They'll never know the difference!)
Overall, Across the Universe promises to be an interesting start to a fresh new series, one poised to open up an influx of teen sci-fi novels to a new generation of readers.
[Review based on ARC edition]
[ARC won from Library Thing...Thank you!]