Thursday, February 2, 2012

REVIEW: "Under the Never Sky" by Veronica Rossi

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
(Under the Never Sky #1)

Young Adult-Science Fiction-Dystopian
Harper Collins--January 3, 2012
ARC from NY Comic-Con, 374 pages 

Rating:  3.5 Stars--I Liked It


Since she'd been on the outside, she'd survived an Aether storm, she'd had a knife held to her throat, and she'd seen men murdered. This was worse.

Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland - known as The Death Shop - are slim. If the cannibals don't get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She's been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He's wild - a savage - and her only hope of staying alive.

A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile - everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria's help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must accept each other to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.


I had heard about this book for months through the blogosphere back in the fall.  So I was super excited to get my hands on an ARC at New York Comic-Con...then I let it sit on my bookshelf.  I can't really explain why, but I couldn't get up the inspiration to read it until recently.  Sometimes there are drawbacks to the overhwhelming book hype and I think that is what has happened with Under the Never Sky for me.  There were many things I liked in this book, but I found myself slightly disappointed.

What I Liked

1. The world that Rossi builds is creative and multi-dimensional.  Some humans have been placed into gray-tinted Pods and use virtual Realms to deal with the inevitable boredom of their lives.  Still others live outside the pods, for unknown reasons at this point, and survive in almost prehistoric tribes.  I thought the dichotomy of the futuristic and the prehistoric to be a fascinating concept which actually makes sense if one thinks about how people might react to an apocalyptic event.

2. Aria is the female protagonist and she has spent her entire life in a Pod.  When she is exiled into the world outside, she is logically terrified.  But, she eventually gets over her initial shock and becomes an admirably strong character.  Her transformation was one of the highlights of the story and I look forward to seeing where Rossi takes her character next.

3. The hero of this book is Peregrine (Perry) and is the younger brother of his tribe's Blood Leader.  Perry lives in the Death Shop and has the survival instincts to prove it.  He has had a difficult time relating to people within his tribe due to his strange abilities and only feels comfortable around his young, ailing nephew (Talon).  Perry's loyalty to Talon was one of his most admirable qualities.  He is also quiet and fairly awkward around others which I found endearing. 

4. Under the Never Sky is told from alternating POVs (Aria and Perry).  I love this writing style and how it allows you to get to know the two main characters so well.  Plus I loved how Rossi used the viewpoints to provide information about the Dwellers and the tribes without resorting to an information dump.

5. The overall tone of the book is established from the beginning and keeps escalating until the climax.  There were quite a few scenes where I found my heart beating due to the unpredictable nature of the plot.  I also liked how Rossi was able to balance out most of the darker aspects with some sarcastic, light humor. 

6. Most of the secondary characters were well-written and intriguing.  I particularly enjoyed Roar, Perry's friend, and Cinder, the orphan boy with the strange Aether-related powers.  Most of the book revolved around Perry and Aria's journey, but I would love to know more about these side characters.
What I Didn't Care For

1. Because the action started from the beginning of the book, I found myself slightly confused about the basic world that Rossi had built.  I wanted to know what the Aether was and what its effects were, why were the Dwellers living in pods, and how did the tribes come to be.  I know most of these questions will probably be answered later in the series, but I just found myself overwhelmed through most of the plot.
2. In a similar fashion, I also got a little overwhelmed with the alternating conflicts that Perry and Aria were dealing with.  We were dealing with the Dwellers that exiled Aria, cannibals, some mental ailment that was effecting the Dwellers, and Perry's family struggles.  It just felt like a little too much for a first book in a series. 

3. The final issue I had with Under the Never Sky was the romance between Perry and Aria.  I really liked both Perry and Aria as individual characters, but not as a couple.  They were too different and the feelings seemed a little out of the blue for me.  I love opposites attract stories, but, for it to work well, there needs to be some obvious sexual tension which I just didn't find in this book.  I would have loved for their love story to have been later in the series because it just added to the plot overload that I mentioned earlier.

While there was a little too much going on in one book and I didn't completely believe the romance, I enjoyed this debut.  I am intrigued by the premise and I love how Rossi depicted the characters especially Aria.  I had a lot of questions after finishing and I am eager to find out the answers.  Recommended for fans of creative worldbuilding and well-written characters.


Roar leaned across the table and smiled at her seductively, his dark hair falling into his eyes. "When you say everything happens in the Realms, do you mean everything?"
Aria laughed nervously."Yes. Especially that.There are no risks in the Realms."
Roar's smile widened. "You simply think it and it happens? And it
actually feels real?"
"Why are we talking about this?"
"I need a Smarteye," he said.


Under the Never Sky Series
1. Under the Never Sky
2. Through the Ever Night (To Be Released 2013)


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