Under the Never Sky
By: Veronica Rossi
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.
Why did I put off this book? To be honest, I was avoiding this series on purpose because the summary sounded too much like a ton of other mediocre books I'd read. It just wasn't a series I was most interested in. But then I started seeing good reviews, really, really positive ones from people I trust. I also saw really good reviews of the other two books in the series. Naturally that increased my interest.
But having read it, I am kicking myself for not reading it earlier. I loved this book. It was so good and so different than I was expecting.
I loved the characters. Aria, Roar, Perry, Cinder, Marron. They all felt real. Their emotions were legitimate and easily felt by the reader. Their motives made sense and really progressed the story in an excellent way.
Aria: I really like her. She's interesting, in that she felt like her own person. She wasn't a conglomeration of traits that the author thought would go well together, she was a teenage girl whose emotions and actions matched how she grew up and what she was going through in the story. I guess what I'm trying to say is that she didn't feel as contrived as some characters come off, she didn't feel contrived at all. I particularly loved her desire for knowledge. She didn't just allow herself to be dragged along by Perry. She asked questions about the world outside, she tried to obtain the knowledge that she thought might help her in the future. She made it her goal to learn about the new world she had found herself in, as frightening as it was to her. I think that would take its own kind of bravery, to open yourself up to everything that you had previously been ignorant about.
Perry: I also really like him. His struggles made me feel for him, but not in a pitying way. It made his actions, even the questionable ones, make sense, but didn't try to justify them. I was particularly interested in his view of himself. He saw himself as both lesser and more. He knew he had skills, extraordinary ones. But he also blamed himself for so much, things that were ultimately beyond his control. I think he's been set up for some stunning character development in the coming books.
Which leads me to my point concerning both Aria and Perry. I thought it was so well-done how both of their perceptions of one another at the beginning of their acquaintance played into the other's most sensitive topics. Aria thought Perry a savage, which is how he already considered himself or feared becoming. Perry thought Aria was worthless and weak, what she was afraid would be her doom in the outside world. But slowly they learned to see each other truly and revised their impressions.
Roar: I love him. As a supporting character he leaps off the page. In the training bits he had me laughing out loud. I'm excited to read more about him in the coming books of the series. I've heard that he comes into his own even more throughout the series.
While there were a couple of lags, they were necessary for the set-up of the rest of the book and I'm assuming the set-up of the series. But once I hit a certain part I flew through the rest of it. The overall plot was really well-done. It had direction and a point that it was working toward within the sphere of its own storyline (I'm not entirely sure that sentence made sense). What I mean is that it wasn't *just* set-up stuff. It had a definite goal that you knew would be reached before the end of this book. At the same time it made me really excited for the events and progression of the larger story of the series.
Here's the thing about this world-building. It's simultaneously well-done and questionable. The world-building within the book, the things that we are seeing and experiencing within the course of the book make sense in the world. Veronica Rossi doesn't info-dump, yet you come to understand Scires, Auds, Seers, Pods, Realms, all of the things that made up this world. It was immersive and easy to fall into while remaining really interesting and different.
The questionable part comes in when you look for details for how the world got the way it was. It cites jumps in development for the extra powers. But the history of the Aether is never explained or how the world became the way that it is.
BUT, If a story is good, if it is told well, and if I am invested in the characters then I am a reader who finds it easy to overlook that.
And like I said, the world that is contained in the book is well-explained and genuinely interesting. I couldn't find fault with this book other than that, so I find myself being more than okay with how the world-building is dealt with.
"Fall off your own roof, Perry."
"The lyrics flowed out of her, springing straight from her heart. Words full of drama and wild abandon that had always embarrassed her before, because who flung themselves at raw emotion like that? She did it now."
"How everything was about searching and missing. How none of it was coming together the way it should."
"A world of nevers under a never sky."
"A world of nevers under a never sky."