Across the Universe. By Beth Revis. (2011). Razorbill (Penguin). ISBN-10: 1595143971.

Amy has a choice: To be cryogenically frozen for 300 years so that she can be with her family when they wake up, or to go back to her life on Earth. She chooses the stars, but her fate now rests in the hands of those on the ship.

Plot Summary

When Amy is awoken from a cryogenically frozen sleep years early, she and Elder, the boy who has been tasked with the future leadership of the ship’s population, must find out who unplugged Amy, and why. Why would someone want to kill Amy, a “nonessential” member of the frozen crew who were hand-picked because of their skills and background related to re-colonization of a new Earth? Elder has grown up knowing that he would be the next leader of the ship, the leader of the generation to land on a new world, but there are many secrets which the ship holds, and their answers lie in a man drunk with power and obsessed with order and control over his people.

Critical Evaluation

The first chapter, which details being cryogenically frozen, is alarming, yet fascinating, and this same feeling will catapult you through the entire novel as Amy and Elder learn more and more about the ship made of metal, recycled air, a false sun, and lies.

Advanced students, who loved  The Giver in their younger years, will be thrilled to pick up this dark and lonely tale which takes place almost entirely in space.

The characters, the pacing, and the mystery are impeccably well-done. Amy is a courageous and strong female protagonist who is not without faults and deep emotions, and Elder’s character is a clear, logical product of his upbringing. With Amy’s help, he begins to question the morality of his own society, and has the courage to do something about it when the time comes.

About the Author

Beth Revis worked as an English teacher before the debut of Across the Universe, her first published novel. Part of her inspiration for the book came from the loneliness she felt in her first year of college, away from home.


-Science fiction

-Dystopian YA Fiction

Curriculum Ties


-Historical Tyrants

-Pre-College Counseling

Booktalking Ideas

– What would you do if you found yourself trapped on a spaceship headed for a new Earth? How would you choose to rule an entire society held within its walls?

-If you could go to outer space or a new planet, would you go?

-Are there any problems with our own society that you could see yourself trying to change? What would you do?

Reading Level/Interest Age

-Ages 16-18

Challenge Issues

This book could frighten younger readers, and it contains some fairly dark and depressing moments, all of which would be quite plausible in people living entirely in space. Depression gets the better of some of the characters, but the overall tone of the novel is that you can find hope and strength within yourself and that you can escape injustice by working hard to change things.

Teenage depression is a real, often destructive thing, and this novel can be a way to bring about discussion with teens about their own lives and feelings.

Another possible challenge issue in Across the Universe is sexual content. While the main characters never engage in sex themselves, the society is described as one which goes through a “mating season.” There is a scene of near-rape in the book, however, it does not fully happen, and serves to illustrate the problems of the society as a result of a severely misguided leadership.

Why Did You Include This Title?

I have always been a fan of science fiction, and jumped at a chance to read this new book written specifically for young adult readers. In my opinion, there is simply not enough new science fiction written for teens! Thankfully, I was not disappointed in the least with this one! What I found was a mystery, a love story, a bit of science, and an imagining of humanity’s possible future in the search for a new planetary home.

The title is already an Amazon Best Book of the Month, the first month of its release.


About thesuperlibrarian

High School Librarian and obsessive reader! On a mission to read as many SUPER YA books as possible!
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