So, we kicked off Dystopian Week on Monday with a "Matched" review and a few "Hunger Games" goodies, which makes sense, since those are two of the hottest dark-future books on the planet at the moment. But, I ask you, what about dark-future books off the planet? Because of its setting, Beth Revis' "Across the Universe" doesn't immediately come to mind as a dystopian book, per se, since it's also a murder mystery in space. And no, despite the title, it has nothing to do with the Beatles. So is this the dystopian novel for you?
Evil Empire: The Godspeed, a giant ship transporting people on a 300-year journey from Earth to colonize the planet of Centauri-Earth. While the scientists and military strategists thought necessary to begin the colony are cryogenically frozen before takeoff, thousands of others live, have families and die as they run the ship. They are ruled by a man simply called Eldest.
Main Form of Oppression: Most of the non-frozen residents of the Godspeed are Feeders—basically, farmers who are kept completely docile and ignorant by means that aren't immediately clear to us. There are others—engineers, a doctor, a record-keeper and some mental patients—who are slightly more with it, but we know that Eldest has fed them a version of history and their present circumstances that is pretty far from the truth. They're also allowed to, um, breed, only once in their lives.
Girl Rebel: Amy, a 17-year-old who was frozen for the journey along with her parents, but is accidentally/on-purpose unfrozen, 50 years away from their destination. And boy, is she pissed. Especially since it kind of seems like she was awake for the past 250 years.
Boy Rebel: Elder, the 16-year-old who's next in line for command of the ship. He discovers the floor of the ship where the frozen passengers are kept right around the time someone starts unplugging them—which is basically murder.
How They Fight the Man: As Elder and Amy search for the killer, he starts to question everything Eldest ever taught him, and she starts to teach him about her world. In the process, they discover the dark secret behind why Eldest has to keep everyone under such tight control.
Metaphor for the Real World: The obedient, post-racial Feeders seem to stand for the consequences of passive ignorance, while Amy, Elder and his mental-patient friends are the artists and intellectuals who ask questions and challenge the world around them.
Who Should Read This: Well, sci-fi and mystery fans will love it, but so will any girl or boy who's ever sat in a room full of quiet conformists and wanted to scream at them all, "Wake up!"
Have you read "Across the Universe"? What is your favorite dystopian novel? Spill it all in the comments and on Twitter!