Why oh why oh why can’t authors mention that what I think is their brilliant standalone work is actually the first book of a trilogy? Hmm? So instead of knowing that there’s going to be more to the story and preparing myself for it I’m forced to just randomly stumble upon the fact whilst browsing on Amazon?
Ok, I admit, this really doesn’t get me as upset as all that, but seriously people, clue a girl in early that there will be more books after the one I’m currently reading. (Also… what happened to all the brilliant standalone novels in sci-fi and urban fantasy? Seems like everything I read last year was part of something else! That’s probably a whole blog post in and of itself, isn’t it… ah well, moving on…)
So, I just finished, well, started and finished, Across the Universe by Beth Revis a couple days ago. Loved it. Broadly, it was one of the best YA sci-fi novels I’ve read in a long time. Come to think of it, I’m not sure what the last YA sci-fi I read was… hrm… Anyway, the story opens with Amy, our protagonist, and her parents being prepared for cryogenic freezing. They are scheduled to depart on a colony destined to land on a plant in Alpha Centauri some 300 years later. At this point the book takes a twist away from what you’re expecting. Rather than some kind of automated vessel designed to wake its crew when in close proximity of their new home, this ship has a huge crew, 3,000 or so people in fact, to run it. Over the years of their voyage, tending to the ship and it’s sleeping cargo, some hijinks ensue and Amy is is awoken early, and alone.
Together with the young man who will one day lead the crew and assorted other folks she must solve the mystery of who is tampering with the cryogenically stored cargo, who caused her to awaken, and in the end, fix a society that has become horribly broken.
This YA novel is a mix of science fiction and dystopia, along with a shot of murder mystery, and I have to say it was a really enjoyable read. The writing style was concise and clear, making for a fast read, with enough eloquence to keep things interesting. If I had one complaint to make, it would be that the identity of the character responsible for murdering the people in cryostasis becomes obvious to the reader early on. I spent easily 3/4ths of the novel shouting at Amy and Elder in my head, understanding WHY they couldn’t see what I could, but still being frustrated by it. This wasn’t a big enough deal to turn me off the novel, I just think that there really wasn’t any need (plot-wise) to make this so obvious to the audience quite so early.
I originally picked Across the Universe from my TBR list (aka the million or so downloaded samples on my Kindle) to be the first book I count in the 2012 Speculative Fiction Challenge, hosted by Baffled Books but after reading it I’ve decided to also link it for the 2012 Science Fiction Experience, hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings, as a great example of YA sci-fi. So what are your thoughts? Have you read it? Is it on your TBR list? Recommendations for similar works we might enjoy?