Across the Universe by Beth Revis (Published by Razorbill, January 11, 2011)
Seventeen-year-old Amy gives up her life on Earth to join her parents, who are being cryogenically frozen to travel on a spaceship called Godspeed as part of a mission to colonize a new planet. The journey will take 300 years. But then, fifty years before the ship was due to land, Amy is woken up early - and it does not appear to be a computer malfunction. Rather, it seems she is the victim of an attempted murder. And since Amy cannot be refrozen without risking her life, she must spend the next fifty years on the ship, without her parents, who cannot be woken up to join her because they are essential to the mission of colonizing the new planet. To make matters worse, it seems that she was not the only victim, and now other frozen people are dying, too. Amy is terrified that her parents will be next.
Life on board the Godspeed is very different from the life Amy left behind on Earth, and it is a struggle for her to adapt. Almost everyone on the ship behaves completely abnormally. The only people who act human at all are the “mental” patients at the hospital. The ship is ruled over by Eldest, a tyrant who hates anything that could disrupt the order and conformity on the ship. There is also Elder, the teenager he is training to be the future leader of the ship. Although he will be the next leader, Elder often feels Eldest is hiding many things from him. And from the start he is fascinated by Amy, and very attracted to her, and doesn’t believe she is bad like Eldest does. Together Amy and Elder, as they grow closer to each other, must solve the mystery of who wants to kill the frozen people and discover the terrible hidden secrets of Godspeed.
This book is told from the alternating points of view of Elder and Amy, which I think worked really well for the story. Amy is a pretty typical teenager from Earth. Elder, meanwhile, was born and raised on the ship and it isn’t until he meets Amy that he begins to question many things about his world and whether things there are really as “normal” as he always believed. There’s a little bit of romance but it doesn’t overwhelm the plot, which was a nice change, it’s mostly a science fiction/mystery story set aboard a very dystopian spaceship, with lots of twists and turns in the plot that I didn't see coming. The story is truly very different from anything I’ve read recently from the young adult fiction genre, so if you like dystopian fiction and are looking to read something different, I would highly recommend this book.