A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.
Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.
Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.
Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.
Hardcover, 398 pages
Published January 11th 2011 by Razorbill
Okay, one word: Wow. This is going to be a really hard review to explain why I love this book. But here goes.
How I got it: I was lucky enough to win a sighed copy of this from Penguin Teen. Disclaimer: This in no way changed my opinion of the book itself.
Cover: Oh you couldn't ask for a better cover. I mean it's reversible for goodness sake! How do you top that? The outer cover (above) is gorgeous. It's colors and the composition are so alluring. And I think it matches the idea of the story well. The inside cover is blue, pretty, and set up like a schematic of the ship. It's calculating, a little boyish, but still very cool. It isn't glossy like the outer one, though. I don't know if this is how I'm supposed to take it, but I think of the outer one as Amy's and the inner, Elder.
Story: The genre of this novel is a little hard to place. It's a little dystopian, a little sci-fi, a little mystery. There isn't a lot to this book in terms of plot, I think. But, it's got a lot going on, and the book doesn't suffer for it. At first, this book was a little slow for me. I mean literally slow - like it was taking me a long time to get through the first half of the story. There was intrigue and things going on and stuff I wanted to know and I liked the characters but I was just reading slow. Then yesterday at lunch I reached the midpoint and it took off. Last night I decided to get to bed early, and couldn't stop reading. I finished at lunch today.
Now, there are some parts of the plot that I guessed. I knew who was behind the mystery from about 50 pages in and wanted to pound on the book for the characters not getting it. Other things, I kind of got, but not quite. Some things I was shocked by. Even if I knew the "big" thing, the way it turned out was satisfying.
Characters: The characters in AtU were well written. Their voices were distinctive, and I liked the tone and cadence they spoke with. Amy is awoken on a ship and is rightfully depressed about things. She's trying to get used to a life that is alien to her (pun only slightly intended for this book). She was a bit whiny, but it was all understandable and earned, so I wasn't annoyed by it. I just wanted to hug her.
I love Elder. I love how he questions and doesn't question, gets it and doesn't get it at the same. He's a leader and a follower. He's a walking contradiction, and I loved watching him grow throughout the book. I watched him shuck his childishness and grow strong. And I loved every minute of it.
There are some great side characters in this novel. Harley is by far my favorite, with his eccentric and innocent, child-like demeanor. He was truly original. But then there was Victoria who I felt was her own person. Eldest was a fascinating character to watch interact and change with Elder. All these characters felt flushed out and real.
Themes: A big theme of this novel is truth and lies, and I think Revis does a fantastic job at interweaving both throughout the story. She paints this seamless picture for you, then crumbles it before your eyes and builds it back up. I won't give too much away here, but I loved how it ended. It's not your typical romantic ending, and I'll leave it at that.
Writing: Revis' writing is really spot on, down to the littlest punctuation. It all has a point, and it works so well in this world. She did a lot of world building, and her descriptions are just enough to not bore (a mistake that sci-fi authors often make) but is entirely new and exciting. She has painted life upon a spaceship in a very real way - not glorified at all. No, this is not Star Trek. I don't think I'd want to live upon a spaceship because of the problems Revis addresses. And since it's set in the future, I love how their language changes (like I said, realistic). I even caught myself thinking "frexing" at some point today.
Overall: It was hard to decide, but I'm giving AtU FIVE STARS. The writing, the world-building, the realistic picture of a possible life in the future. That blew me away. I liked her down-to-earth (har, har) characters, and I loved the ending. A good read.