Godspeed, the largest ship ever built when it left Earth 250 years ago, hurtles towards its destination: a new planet another fifty years away, ready for colonisation by its cryogenically frozen passengers.
Seventeen-year-old Amy – considered non-essential cargo and on board only because both her parents are considered crucial to the mission – is woken up, decades ahead of schedule. This stirs up trouble among the ship’s inhabitants, particularly Elder, the boy chosen to be the next generation’s leader. When one of the ‘frozens’ is found dead, and Elder begins to doubt the man who has taught him all he knows, he and Amy start uncovering the ship’s darkest secrets.
Across the Universe provides plenty for older teen readers to enjoy. The identity of the murderer may be no huge surprise but other twists and turns make up for this, and the growing attraction between Amy and Elder adds a dash of romance to the mystery plot.
This debut from Beth Revis is the first in an intended trilogy, so there are elements of the future’s history alluded to but not yet explored. One can only hope that the intriguing hints scattered throughout the book are developed in further volumes.
The presentation of a ‘monoethnic’ culture also begs further development, with racism and racial identity woven throughout the book but never addressed fully. Still, the revelations about the ship’s history, whose claustrophobic setting lends an additional air of menace, ensure that this first volume answers just enough of its own questions to keep readers satisfied – at least until the sequels are published.