Synopsis: 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 amonghis 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 abarbarian, 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.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi was one of my highly anticipated titles for 2012. When the ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies) were first distributed, people told me that the expected release date was in February. Under the Never Sky had an interesting premise, and there were promises of a futuristic dystopia with both science fiction AND fantasy elements. Needless to say, I wasn’t sure if I was going to last that long.
Prior to even reading the synopsis, I was already lured to Under the Never Sky just by the title and cover alone. What was the Never Sky? What was its importance? Who is this girl on the cover that appears to be travelling alone. And the subdued hues of blue, with a touch of red – what is the significance of the objects on the cover?
Under the Never Sky first introduces us to Aria, a dweller who was raised in virtual realms, as she breaks into Ag 6, a service dome that is deemed off limits. When reality tears apart her life lived in fantasy, Aria must learn to basics to survive. Aria was believable, even in a dystopian or futuristic setting. Her emotions were easy to relate to. Her actions? Even though they were sporadic and instantaneous, completely justified given her upbringing and situations that she was put in. I admired her courage and strength, much more than many other protagonists.
Perry, is a Savage that lives on the outside. He is the unsuspecting ally that saved Aria not once, but many times afterwards. He is quiet and reserved, much, much different than Aria. His actions are calculated, and his actions speak louder than words. Perry was mature and unruly, and most definitely brave. I loved his character and who he represented. Perry reminded me of several of my favorite male heroes.
The story’s narrative has a dual perspective, told through the eyes of Aria and Perry. Here, I understood and clearly saw the differences in their cultures, their beliefs, as well as their thoughts and emotions. I absolutely loved the way Rossi built Aria and Perry. Despite the differences, Rossi clearly balanced the characters really well. To me, nothing was overdone, rushed, or drawn out.
The supporting characters did not play small parts. Each character introduced made its way into the forefront in some sort of way. With unique characteristics, personalities, and even abilities, each one added to the development of both Aria and Perry individually and collectively.
For me, the first thing I noticed about Under the Never Sky was the world. My favorite part of dystopian stories is the world building. In my opinion, without a great world, it could make or break a story. Rossi fascinated me with elements of futuristic pods, technology, and the apocalyptic aftermath that caused the rise of the Unity. Rossi took science fiction and weaved it with fantasy with the magic appeal of the Aether, the scires, and the almost savage behaviors of the tribes.
It might be saying a lot (which I totally think Under the Never Sky deserves), but reading this story took me back to when I first read Brave New World. As much as I was invested in the futuristic immersion of Aria’s world, I felt the simplicity and natural essence of Perry’s. It was a great balance to go from one side of the spectrum to another.
Most of the book was paced really well. The writing? Superb. But, I wish there were more pages in the book. I wish that there were more words that I could read. There were certain parts that I felt weren’t enough to satisfy my reading hunger. There was a large part near the end that I wish I knew more of. I got to know Aria and Perry in a way that they became real to me. I wanted more.
Under the Never Sky brought me to the end of the world and back. Rossi’s brilliant words took my breath away. The world was spectacular and the story beautiful. I urge you to read this today.