In the tradition of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, Ally Condie’s Crossed, and Veronica Roth’s Divergent, Beth Revis brings us dystopian literature with a twist: she sets her young adult novel in space.
It all begins with Across the Universe in which we meet Amy, a teen from Colorado who, along with her parents, is cryogenically frozen on the spaceship Godspeed. The hope is that in 300 years or so, the ship will land on Centauri-Earth, a planet that is said to be perfect for human habitation. On this new planet, Amy and the others can build a new world without the wars and environmental challenges of Earth.
On the ship, we meet Elder, second in line to lead the entire ship, who is the youngest person on it. He will take over power when Eldest steps down. Godspeed is a strange ship, full of locked doors, history that has been rewritten, and people on drugs to take away their anxiety. Strangest of all is the Season, which you just have to read about for yourself.
Revis tells the story using alternating chapters from Amy’s and Elder’s point of view. In this way, nothing is revealed too soon. In both Across the Universe and its sequel A Million Suns, Revis puts her characters through a Campbellian quest. There are minor characters who take on the role of guide or helper. She also has several different subplots.
Most interesting is that Revis invents her own language for the Across the Universe trilogy (yes, you guessed it, Shades of Earth will be released in 2013). Words like “frex,” “uni,” and “brilly” show up often here. “Frex,” clearly, is derived from “frack” in Battlestar Galactica. But it works well here, all borrowing aside.
Is this trilogy as good as The Hunger Games? I have to say no. I don’t think it’s even as good as “Matched” or “Divergent,” but it’s got something different. None of those young adult novels are set in space. Beth Revis gives readers something new. And please do not think it’s only for teens! Dystopian YA novels are so hot right now, and I do not see this trend cooling anytime soon.