Opening soon after the bleak ending of Across the Universe (2011), this captivating middle volume takes Godspeed’s 2,763 residents through commotion, twists and game-changers.
Sixteen-year-old Elder (he refuses the title Eldest, despite being the ship’s leader now) learned in the trilogy opener that Godspeed’s weakened engine offers no chance of planet-landing for many decades. But Elder’s been studying physics, and he’s newly skeptical. Confronting the Shippers who physically run Godspeed begins a string of surprising reveals and so does a set of clues left by a cryogenically frozen rebel. Among this population that’s been shipborn for generations, Earthborn Amy sticks out like a sore thumb (in race-coded ways that are troubling when examined closely). Amy wants off the 10 square miles of this metal-walled spaceship. The environment (levels; elevators; fields under a solar lamp; crammed stacks of city buildings) gives the plot (food hoarding, rape, riots, revolution) an acute tension. Amy and Elder alternate narrating in first person. Their voices aren’t distinct, their actions and characterizations frustrating in many ways, but it hardly matters: Revis’ shining brilliance is the fierce tension about survival (is Godspeed deteriorating? can people survive terrorism inside an enclosed spaceship?) and the desperate core question of whether any generation will ever reach a planet.
Setting and plot are the heart and soul of this ripping space thriller, and they’re unforgettable. (Science fiction. 14 & up)