From School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up–Humanity was given five years to prepare when they learned that an asteroid would destroy Earth. The healthiest were sent away in every direction in the hopes that the human race could survive and find a new home, while the rest were left to wait. Nearly 500 years have passed since the asteroid arrived, and the only home that Terra has ever known is on the Asherah, a massive spaceship ferrying roughly 1000 Jewish settlers to their new planet. Nearing her 16th birthday and the end of her journey, Terra is pulled into an underground resistance movement when she witnesses the brutal murder of a passenger at the hands of the captain's guard. She learns that her life has been a facade of false choice and classism, and that her mother's death may not have been natural. On the ship there are strict requirements about marriage, to the extent that all boys are sterilized at puberty and all new children grown in labs. When Terra is introduced to the resistance through the boy whom she has agreed to marry, she learns that he is involved with another male member of the resistance. Through diary entries, readers learn that the resistance started with Terra's great-grandmother over her dissatisfaction with being contractually obligated to marry a man on the ship. The intrigue builds as it becomes clear that Terra's ancestors may have been the first to rebel. While there are certainly strong science-fiction overtones and dystopian influences, the claustrophobic nature of the ship grounds the characterization. This book offers an excellent resource to support diversity as marriage equality and LGBT issues are a dominant factor in the narrative, making it more interesting than many similar titles.–Ryan F. Paulsen, New Rochelle High School, NYα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
In North’s dystopian debut, space-traveling ship Asherah is the only home 15-year-old Terra Fineberg has ever known. Five hundred years ago, the ship left behind an Earth destroyed by an asteroid strike. Now a tightly regulated place run by a traditionalist council, Asherah carries fewer than 1,000 people as it heads for the planet Zehava, which the council aims to settle while they carry on centuries of earthly Jewish traditions. Each citizen has a life map: they’re shunted into the talent they display when they come of age, matched with a genetically ideal partner, and required to raise two children born outside the womb in a sort of hatchery. Burdened with a distant father, a dead mother, and a preordained future, Terra is angrily resigned to a life she doesn’t want. Then she witnesses a murder and discovers a rebellion, and her perspective abruptly shifts direction. With its onion-skin layers of plots and subterfuge around issues of trust and loyalty—not to mention a very strong writing style—this stellar debut should have strong interest from dystopian fans. Hand to fans of Maria V. Snyder or Beth Revis. Grades 7-12. --Julie Trevelyan