Across the Universe is the first book in a new dystopian trilogy that takes place entirely on a spaceship the size of a small island. It is an exciting and thought-provoking read that will appeal to fans of both the sci-fi and mystery/thriller genres. Amy is a realistic and contemporary American teen from some time in the not-so-distant future, while Elder and the inhabitants of Godspeed are the thirteenth generation of people to be born and live entirely within the walls of the ship. The world aboard the ship is one where the ruler is supreme and maintains control of his people with emotion-blunting drugs distributed via the water system. He believes that differences, including race, religion and individual thought, lead to discord, and as a result has done away with all of them. The people are mono-ethnic and religion is viewed as a quaint, old fashioned idea. The up and coming leader, Elder, questions these ideals, especially once he meets Amy, who inspires him to embrace differences, human emotions, and truth--even when it is difficult. Amy is horrified by the mating "season" that occurs on the ship, where people engage in public sex for the strict purpose of procreating, just like animals. She is also the victim of a would-be sexual assault by one character who takes advantage of this time to force himself on her. One character kills himself by ejecting out into space because of his feelings of claustrophobia (both emotional and physical) in the artificial environment aboard the ship. There are many themes presented, such as leadership, loyalty, hope, value of emotion, individuality, etc., and no clear answers are given, which many teens should find very stimulating.