January 2011; January 2012
Reading Level: YA
Summary is for Across the Universe:
A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.
Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.
Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.
Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.
The first two books in the Across the Universe trilogy are perfect examples of what I love to see in a young adult book. I will demonstrate this by making a list of the aspects of the novels that make them so wonderful and unique:
1. There is love and romance. I include this first because it is one of the things that I find the least important in a novel. However, the relationship between Amy and Elder is one that is incredibly difficult and complex, and that's what I love about it. As in real life, love and attraction is not clear cut or simple. In these novels it's clear that there is a mixture of love, obsession, fascination, and also confusion in their relationship. Despite what these characters may hope for, this is not a fairytale story, and whether there will be a fairytale ending remains to be seen.
2. The situation is hopeless. I LOVE when characters find themselves in situations that are completely out of their comfort zones. I hate when authors provide quick and easy solutions to truly difficult and impossible situations just for the sake of a happy ending. The problems of Amy and Elder are both impossible, and there are no easy solutions. Therefore, the ending is entirely unpredictable. So even though this is a dystopian story, the situations are as realistic as they can possibly be.
3. The story itself is unique. I'm sure there are plenty of books out there that are Star Wars or Star Trek related that regale the stories of Han Solo or Captain Kirk or whoever, but this is the first time I've seen a story set on a spaceship that is intended for a general young adult audience, as opposed to the audience for a Star Wars or Star Trek type story. I wasn't sure what to expect from this, which left me pleasantly surprised when I found something completely enjoyable and unique.
4. Both books were addicting. When I can't put down a book, I know it's good. This is a combination of all the above factors as well as the intrigue and suspense provided by the author.
Based on the above factors, these were both excellent books. I would definitely recommend them to young adult readers, and if you're still feeling skeptical, then let me just say that I was too when I started, but your concerns will quickly be eased once you get started and become wrapped up in the story.
Note: Look for the third and final installment to this incredible trilogy, Shades of Earth, available January 15, 2013!