Across the Universe by Beth Revis has just been named Amazon's January Best Book for Young Adults. The first book in a new trilogy is an imaginative spin on the recognizable tale of a problem plagued starship sent to colonize a new planet. The riveting first chapter chronicles the details of Amy and her parents being cryogenically frozen before being sent on a 300 year journey into outer space. Flash forward 250 years and Amy's cryogenic chamber has been unplugged and she is awakened 50 years too early. The first person she meets is Elder, the rebellious young teen who is being groomed to take over as dictator of the spaceship, when the current leader dies. The story is told in alternating chapters by Amy and Elder.
At first Amy is furious, then intrigued by the spaceship Godspeed, which has three different levels corresponding to the three castes of passengers: the feeders, who are farmers, the shippers, who maintain the technology and the keepers, who rule. As she acclimates to her new environment, she realizes that most of the inhabitants seem to be drugged automatons. When Amy begins questioning Elder about the spaceship society, he realizes that the current leader has been hiding the truth from him with secrets and lies.
Elder, who was in the dark for years about the frozen inhabitants of the lower level, is captivated by Amy and sympathizes with her fears about the future. When other cryogenically frozens are unplugged and left for dead, Elder must help Amy locate the culprit before her parents are lost forever. As they methodically discover the truth about the horrors which have taken place aboard the Godspeed in the last 250 years, Elder and Amy look for a way to thwart the evil dictator and save the day.
The Across the Universe website currently includes a schematic drawing of the Godspeed, a trailer, reviews and downloads. There is also a Facebook fan site. The murder mystery and romantic aspect of the plot will widen the fan base beyond sci fi readers. Although the sexual content in the book is not particularly graphic, there is a mating season element that leads me to recommend the book for more mature readers.