Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (January 3, 2012)
Series: Under the Never Sky #1
Source: ARC provided by publisher
Cover: This cover is absolutely gorgeous! I'm in love with everything about it from the aether swirling in the background to the model's strong pose, striding with purpose towards us. The font with the enlarged title glowing like the aether in the book is a great touch too. Overall, I think this is one of the strongest dystopian covers I've seen.
Mini-Review: An expert blending of sci-fi, fantasy and dystopian, Under the Never Sky is a richly crafted debut with something incredible to discover on every page.
Aria is a teenager in the enclosed city of Reverie. Like all Dwellers, she spends her time with friends in virtual environments, called Realms, accessed through an eyepiece called a Smarteye. Aria enjoys the Realms and the easy life in Reverie. When she is forced out of the pod for a crime she did not commit, she believes her death is imminent. The outside world is known as The Death Shop, with danger in every direction.
As an Outsider, Perry has always known hunger, vicious predators, and violent energy storms from the swirling electrified atmosphere called the Aether. A bit of an outcast even among his hunting tribe, Perry withstands these daily tests with his exceptional abilities, as he is gifted with powerful senses that enable him to scent danger, food and even human emotions.
They come together reluctantly, for Aria must depend on Perry, whom she considers a barbarian, to help her get back to Reverie, while Perry needs Aria to help unravel the mystery of his beloved nephew’s abduction by the Dwellers. Together they embark on a journey challenged as much by their prejudices as by encounters with cannibals and wolves. But to their surprise, Aria and Perry forge an unlikely love - one that will forever change the fate of all who live UNDER THE NEVER SKY.Review:
Expertly blending elements of sci-fi, fantasy and dystopian into one, Under the Never Sky is a richly crafted debut with something incredible to discover on every page. Humming with excitement, Under the Never Sky is filled with vibrant and well developed characters. The pair of main characters make the reader want to find out what's going to happen to them and the setting feels like a world unfolding with each page.
Following both Perry and Aria in third person, the reader gets both perspectives of two distinctly different races. Aria comes from the world underneath a dome where technology is used as the only escape and everything is orderly and docile. All the air is regulated, the food carefully enhanced and the only entertainment is the simulated pleasures of the Realms. Scientist and engineers have nipped and tucked the world into all the "best" parts so that there is no pain or sickness or unpleasant things. Because of this easy life, Aria isn't equipped with the knowledge on how to protect herself or survive in the world outside the dome called "the Death Shop" by her people. Though she lacks basic survival skills, it is easy to like Aria because she questions her surroundings and instead of moping around when her life spins out of control, she fights back with everything she has.
In sharp contrast with her society is the one Peregrine comes from. Taking half the chapters, Perry is skilled in surviving outside with the aether storms, cannibals and small amounts of food. He knows how to hunt and how to protect himself. And unlike the race that retreated, the Outsiders have adepted with the aether which (though it still plagues them) have enhanced their Senses to incredible lengths. Perry's particular abilities are incredibly fascinating to read about and I really enjoyed learning how Perry's world mixed old customs with new ones.
But the best part by far about following both of these characters around is watching them both start to change. It isn't just Aria that shifts as she stays on the outside but Perry changes a bit too. They start out on opposite sides of the spectrum and through spending time with each other, they both drift into the middle, learning useful things about each society through each other. Watching these two characters slowly learn to trust each other and realize that something more is blossoming underneath their original need for each other is satisfying and slow like all good things. I cared for these characters and their journey.
The secondary characters helped to make the world richer with their presence. Perry's bond with Talon is adorable, Aria's need to find and make ammends with her mother is heartbreaking and Roar's charisma really helped to brighten the novel when it started to seem too bleak. Even Cinder's strange presence is welcome. I also really liked the character's brief stay in Delphi because it helped show that though the world is rough, there are bright patches in it.
Even the world itself seemed like a living, breathing thing. It is in this new place that the author created that I see traces of fantasy in this novel. From the aether clouding the sky and raining down with its vicious storms to the cannibalistic Crovens to the Blood Lords and Sense, everything felt familiar but distant too. The world wasn't so far-fetched that I couldn't picture it but it was different enough to feel wild and exciting. I liked seeing how people survived in this darker place and how being in The Death Shop changed Aria.
With everything else going on, the plot was actually pretty straight forward. I liked that the characters had time to explore this strange world (and each other) and weren't tied down by some ticking clock. Yet, there was enough tension that putting down Under the Never Sky proved difficult. Ms. Rossi's writing is easy to follow. I did notice a few bumps here and there (mostly just dialog jumping around) which might be straighten out in the final draft. Also, I did have some trouble getting into the story at the beginning because of the third person narrative but that's because I'm used to first. I actually prefer first and usually find it hard to get into the third person narrative mindset. Once my brain switched though, I barely noticed it and I liked have the freedom of following both Aria and Perry.
Under the Never Sky promises so much with its pretty package and it delivers everything and more. A vivid and well developed world offer the perfect backdrop for characters the reader will want to get to know. That Under the Never Sky is first in a series is all the better for me. A debut that's impossible to put down, Under the Never Sky should be filed under "never to be missed" right next to your favorites shelf so you won't have to move it far when you are finished.
He stood. "You better live, little Mole," he said. "After all this."
--Pg. 28 of an ARC of "Under the Never Sky" by Veronica Rossi
Between his nose and his eye, he figured he was made for the night.
--Pg. 32 of an ARC of "Under the Never Sky" by Veronica Rossi
She couldn't think beyond his grip on her wrist. A wave of warm air swept past her, heavy, like fingers brushing her face.
--Pg. 101 of an ARC of "Under the Never Sky" by Veronica Rossi
The tattoo on his back was of a falcon, judging by the sleek head...In the Realms people used moving designs. They chose new ones whenever they wanted. She couldn't imagine having an image on her skin forever.
--Pg. 111 of an ARC of "Under the Never Sky" by Veronica Rossi
"Never, Mole. The Aether never leaves."/She looked up. "A world of nevers under a never sky."
--Pg. 124 of an ARC of "Under the Never Sky" by Veronica Rossi
He hadn't seen her as a girl before now. He's seen her as a Mole. Now he couldn't stop seeing all the girl about her.
--Pg. 169 of an ARC of "Under the Never Sky" by Veronica Rossi
"You took so long. I thought maybe the Croven had gotten you."/His eyes glinted with amusement. "No wonder you were sleeping so well."
--Pg. 218 of an ARC of "Under the Never Sky" by Veronica Rossi
Perry stared at the empty space by her side. Just four steps away. Four steps that looked like a mile. Hr took them like he was going to launch himself off a cliff.
--Pg. 240 of an ARC of "Under the Never Sky" by Veronica Rossi
She absorbed the terror and beauty of him and his world. Of every moment over the past days. All of it, filing her up like the first breath she'd ever taken. And never had she loved life more.
--Pg. 252 of an ARC of "Under the Never Sky" by Veronica Rossi
...She learned that it was the loveliest thing to be kissed for no reason...
--Pg. 327 of an ARC of "Under the Never Sky" by Veronica Rossi