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.
Hardcover, US, 376 pages
Four and a half stars: An engaging and exciting dystopian worth reading.
Aria is desperate for a message from her mother. It has been over a week since she has heard from her. In an attempt to get information, Aria buddies up to wealthy, popular, bad boy Soren. Soren proposes a daring, and forbidden escapade into a damaged area of the Pods. Aria agrees to go in hopes that Soren might be able to provide information about her mother. What follows is terror and death as Soren takes some unnecessary risks for the sake of fun. Aria awakens to find that her best friend is dead, and she is in a difficult position. It is her word against Soren's unless she can prove her innocence. Unfortunately, her Smart Eye with the proof is missing. Once Aria is questioned by Soren's father, a powerful leader, she believes things will be alright. He even promises to reunite her with her mother. Aria gratefully boards the hovercraft to go to her mother, but she is horrified when the hovercraft stops in the middle of nowhere and throws her out without a Smart Eye, food or protection, Aria expects to die immediately in the hostile Outside. Will Aria survive under the never sky?
What I Liked:
- This is a long overdue read for me, but I am glad that I finally took the plunge. I found this to be an exciting, well written, dystopian with good world building and engaging characters. If you are on the hunt for a highly entertaining dystopian series, definitely check out these books. The nice thing about waiting so long is that I will be able to read them all back to back and avoid the long wait as the final book releases January 2014.
- I liked both the main characters, Aria and Perry. The story is told via alternating first person narratives between Aria and Perry. Aria has lived her entire life in the shelter of the Pods. The Pods protect the inhabitants from the dangers of the Aether and the Outside. Life in the Pods is plush and easy. Citizens in the Pods have adapted to being cooped up by using their Smart Eyes. The Smart Eye technology provides them access to The Realms where they can traverse virtual realities. In fact, they are so dependent on the alternate realities that they have forgotten what it is like to experience things in real life or the Real. Once Aria is tossed outside she is in for a harsh awakening. She has heard horror stories about people dying immediately after leaving the Pods. She is thrust into a world without modern technology and full of danger. Enter Perry. Perry has spent his entire life on the Outside. He hunts, fights and does whatever it takes to protect himself, his people and young nephew from danger. Life is hard for Perry and his tribe. The Aether storms are getting worse and food is becoming scarce. Once disaster strikes, Perry is forced to take on Aria. This is a book where the main characters undergo tremendous growth and transformation, especially Aria. By the end of the book, Aria is an entirely different girl. I throughly enjoyed watching Perry and Aria change as the forged an unlikely friendship.
- I appreciated the unique characteristics of the Outside dwellers. Many of them possess special talents. For instance, Perry is a Seer and a Scrie. His Seer abilities gave him night vision, while his Scrie talents involve a highly developed sense of smell. Perry can smell people's moods and through scent identify their true feelings. An Aud, like Roar, is born with an extraordinary sense of hearing. I loved the way Rossi incorporated the senses into the book and the way she made the read an extrasensory experience. For instance, with Perry he is always scenting people's moods and he provides his analysis of what different moods smell like. I was in awe of this aspect of the book and thought it was extremely well done.
- The world building is good despite a few minor flaws. I liked that there are two extreme worlds presented. You have the setting of the Pods where people spend their days dependent on their Smart Eyes flipping through virtual realms. They have become completely reliant on technology and they have forgotten much of the true human experience. The life of a person in the Pods is sheltered and cushy. The opposite world is the Outside where people live under the violent Aether. The Aether creates violent storms which burn the ground. It is a hard life, and the people who live on the Outside lead primitive lives where they are mainly hunters and gatherers. The two worlds collide when Aria and Perry come together on The Outside. It was interesting watching two complete opposites learn to work together.
- The romance is one of antagonism. In the beginning, Aria and Perry can't stand each other. They don't trust one another, but they are forced to work together, Aria for survival and the hope of finding her mother, and Perry in order to retrieve something that was taken from him. Perry at first is cruel and harsh toward Aria. However over time, once Aria starts proving herself through sheer determination and courage, his feelings begin to change. A friendship grows and then sprouts into something more. Unfortunately, their romance is fraught with difficulty. I have a feeling it will go through some tremendous troubles before the end. At this point, I like the way it is developing. No insta love or love triangles as of yet.
And The Not So Much:
- Overall, I thought the world building was well done except for a few important points. The Aether is never completely explained. It is unknown how it came to be. Was it the product of human destructiveness toward the environment? The Aether is dangerous and deadly as it creates violent storms that ravage the land. The details are scant on the Aether and it needed more development, especially since it is crucial to the story. The fall of humanity is not throughly explained and it wasn't clear how some people made it into the Pods while others were left Outside. How did the people on the Outside manage to survive? How were the people chosen to live in the Pods? These are just a few minor details that were missing. There is a big revelation at the end regarding Vale and his actions, but the details on exactly what he did are not clear. I desperately wanted to know how he struck the deal and with whom everything he got out of it.
- In the middle of the book, Perry, Aria and Roar reach safety and hole up at Mirren's house. Mirren is an eccentric collector. He lives in a walled fortress and is the head of a community. He collects old, valuable artifacts. Mirren is skilled with the Pod technology as well. I was curious as to how Mirren knew all that he did regarding the Pods. Was he once a part of the Pod society? How did he build his safe sanctuary? Why did he throw open his doors to Perry and Roar putting his settlement in danger? What was their history?
- The story moves along at a brisk and satisfying speed up until the final chapters. I had no problem with the development and pace until the end. At that point, things move at lightning speed and several new conflicts and story lines are tossed in too quickly. The whole thing with Perry and his new gang moves way too fast. The ending is also abrupt and it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger.
Under the Never Sky is definitely a book that lives up to the hype. It has a great story, solid and engaging characters, interesting and exciting world building and an antagonistic romance. An impressive debut! I am glad that I finally managed to read this book and I am eager to continue with the series. If you have yet to start this series, now is the perfect time since the third and final book will be out in a few short weeks. Get it now!
"How could a person know about snow without knowing it was pure and silent and whiter than bone? Without knowing how the chill of it stung your skin?"
"A world of nevers under a neversky."
"People can be cruelest to those they love."
"Words are the best way I have to know you."
I borrowed a copy of this book. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.