Sunday, March 18, 2012

Review: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

From the Back Cover:


Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she's never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.

Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He's searching for someone too. He's also wild--a savage--but he might be her best hope at staying alive.

If they can survive, they are each other's best hope for finding answers.

My Thoughts:

The natural balance of the earth has been disrupted. The sky has transformed into an ever-swirling mass of electrical current that strikes the earth in massive storms, destroying everything in their path. Climates have shifted. Most of what's left of the earth's population lives in pods--huge, enclosed cities that protect their inhabitants from the earth's unstable environment, and from the pockets of primitive civilizations that still survive in the wild.

Aria was born and raised in a pod. She was genetically engineered to be exactly what her mother wanted her to be. She's the picture of perfect health and she could live to be several hundred years old. But the world she lives in isn't real. People in the pods spend nearly all of their time in the Realms, virtual worlds accessed via the smart patches they wear over their left eyes. But Aria and her friends are looking for a real thrill, and breaking into a wing of the pod that's been sealed off due to damage from an Aether storm with the pod commander's son sounds like it will deliver--and give Aria a chance to pump him for information on her mother's whereabouts. Her mother's supposed to be at another pod, conducting top-secret government work, but Aria hasn't been able to reach her and she's convinced something's wrong.

Peregrine's an outsider. It's not rare for people of his tribe to be gifted with a heightened sense--sight, smell, sound. But it is rare for one person to have two, as Perry does. With extra powerful senses of sight and smell, he's the tribe's best hunter. He's also a contender for the position of tribal chief, and there are many who feel it's time for a new leader. Game is growing scarce. Tensions with rival tribes are rising. The Aether storms are intensifying. Perry thinks the tribe needs to move to survive. But to claim leadership of the tribe, Perry would have to fight and kill the current chief: his older brother. So their relationship is already under a lot of pressure when his brother's son, Perry's beloved nephew Talon, is snatched up by a Dweller hovercraft on Perry's watch. Guilty and furious and threatened with exile if he doesn't succeed, Perry sets off to find his nephew. And he finds Aria.

After the excursion into the abandoned pod went horribly, fatally wrong, Aria found herself dumped in the desert to die by a government intent on covering it up. And it seems like her death won't be long in coming with an Aether storm erupting all around her. But she does survive it, thanks to an outsider who shows her the way to safety. Perry helped Aria survive the storm, but he's moving on. He doesn't have the time or the inclination to take a Dweller along with him, even if she is pretty. He's on a mission to save Talon. In Aria's eyes, Perry is a savage. Long blond dreads, bright green eyes, and tattoos everywhere. Armed with a bow and knives and a feral quality that terrifies Aria. But she realizes her only chance for survival is to stick with him. She makes a deal: she'll help him find Talon if he'll help her find her mother. Recognizing that Aria's knowledge of the pods could help him, Perry agrees. And they're off on a dangerous journey through an uncertain landscape and to an uncertain outcome.

I really liked Under the Never Sky. It's very different, yet completely relevant. After dramatic climate change, society has evolved into divergent societies: one sheltered in a world of their own creation, on the leading edge of life-improving technology, and the other living in the wild, in a world of warring hunter-gatherer tribes, where life is hard and life-expectancy is short. It's a situation that's not too hard to imagine could actually exist one day, and that made the story all the more enjoyable for me. The story world is lushly depicted--at times tender and beautiful, at others stark and brutal. I really only have one quibble with this book. I don't think it's at all far-fetched that people surviving in extreme circumstances could develop heightened senses, but I did find the idea of a person "rendering"--forming an intense attachment to someone via their scent--to stretch the limits of my believability. And I thought it was a great story on its own without that magic mojo. I loved the characters and the relationship that grew between them. Perry is a real warrior. There's no artifice to him. He is what he is, he does what he has to do, but he does it with honor and deep emotion. And Aria was a great surprise. Though she was absolutely unprepared to live in the real world, much less a wild one, she works hard, she learns fast, she earns respect. Some varied and intriguing supporting characters add depth to the story, and I also really liked the alternating third-person (third person!) points of view. Really helped the story feel fully formed. Even though this story is just beginning. Riveting, dangerous, romantic--it's a must-read for YA dystopian lovers. I'll be looking for the sequel.

My Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

*Please note: This review references an advance digital copy received from the publisher via NetGalley, and therefore the final published copy may differ. Though I received this book from the publisher, these are my honest and unbiased thoughts, and I was not compensated in any other way for reviewing this book.


  1. I love YA dystopian so I may have to give this a go! Brilliant review! x

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