(Found) Boy grows up on spaceship where they take turns in cryostasis, ship malfunctions and acts like an organism fighting off an infection (human)


New Member
Jun 4, 2019
I read this in high school around 2009-2011. I think the title was one word, followed by an exclamation mark, but that’s the best I have for title/author, and this has been bugging me for years.
  • Media: novel, paperback
  • Cover details: dark blue, shadow(?) of a teenage boy (main character). Title in a green/yellow font? I think it was one word, with an exclamation mark.
  • Year: no later than 2009-2011, probably written in the early 2000s?
  • Major themes: family, growing up, ??
  • Setting: spaceship, specifically a colony ship heading to a planet further away than the human lifespan. As such, settlers take turns going into cryostasis, in two (or three) different groups. Each group is large enough to crew the ship, and have children etc.
  • Characters: the main character is a boy. When everything goes south, he teams up with his parents (male and female), and some other people who were on the bridge to fight for survival.
  • Language: English
  • Target audience: young adult
Fortunately, I remember a good deal about the plot:

The book begins by introducing us to the concepts behind the colony ship. I think it begins with a birthday party for the main character at his childcare centre, with other children, hosted by the centre’s workers. I think the other children were all the same age (with different birthdays).

This launches into an explanation of the colony ship and how it works: specifically, that there are two (or three) different groups of people, that take turns in looking after the ship while the other group is in cryostasis. This is so the ship can make it to their destination with everyone alive. This is also why every kid is the same age (?) as they have been born during the awake periods for this particular group. Not sure if that’s exactly how it worked, but there was something about their age range correlating with the cycle of cryostasis.

I think the main character is about 7 at this point, then goes through a cycle of cryostasis before being woken up when he is 14? Not to sure about that. Regardless, one day, he goes up to the bridge to check out what his parents are up to there (for a school assignment maybe?). While he’s there, a strange anomaly hits the ship, and things start going haywire.

The main premise of the book is that this anomaly turns the ship into an organic entity. The walls become flesh like etc I think. The main issue this causes for the protagonist and company is that the ship now sees the humans on board as a parasite that needs to be eradicated, and this forms the main plot of the book. Those in cryostasis currently are killed straightaway by the ship, and I think the majority of the awake group is killed off by the ship in various ways. The protagonist, his parents, a friend of his (?) and one or two adults who were all on the bridge when this happened do their best to reverse the damage, and to survive.

The ship acts like an organism with antibodies etc trying to fight off the human infection, and this is the main thing I remember about it. The ship might use robots in place of antibodies.

Unfortunately I can’t remember what the ending was, so frustrating! I think they lose people along the way but the boy definitely survives, and either his mum or his friend does too.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Never mind, found it! Leaving this up in case it helps anyone else, just embarrassed that I finally found it after a week of googling so soon after posting.

The book is Living Hell (2007) by Catherine Jinks.

What happens when a single moment changes everything? For 17-year-old Cheney, life on Earth exists only in history books. The life he and over 1,000 other people know is aboard the "Plexus": self-contained, systematic, and serene. But that was before the radiation wave.
Thank you very much for returning to post your own answer. I'm sure that future searchers will appreciate it!