by Veronica Rossi
Hardcover, US, 400 pages
Expected publication: January 3rd 2012
by Harper Collins
Book Source: Netgalley
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.
I had a rocky start with Under the Never Sky mostly because I spent the opening chapters scratching my head wondering what was going on.The first scenes really reminded me of Lord of The Flies as we are introduced to a group of friends who leave their main pod for an outing and things turn violent. Without any character building or back story or explanation why, you see teen boys gone savage. It isn’t until much much later that we understand part of why things happen the way they did. It took a good half of the book for me to start enjoying myself since I felt lost as a reader to the world Rossi was building. When I finished the book a month ago there weren’t many reviews posted on Goodreads to help fill in the blanks of what I couldn’t put together. Now there are a ton, and it seems many readers caught on and loved the setting much more than I did.
The world is based on two societies, one in pods or realms where the inhabitants are protected from the other harsh and dangerous outside world full of savages and cannibals. Members of pod society wear eyepieces that give an receive transmissions, only experiencing things as a simulated reality. Aria, one of the main characters is discharged from her pod into the outside Death Shop to fend for herself after the skirmish of the first chapters involving a top officials son. There she encounters Peregrine, or Perry for a second time. The two are forced together by circumstance though they hate and mistrust one another. Their relationship takes a long time to build and develop which I enjoyed but I wish I felt more of a connection to Aria. We don’t know much about her except for that Perry thinks she smells wonderful and she can really sing. I found myself wanting to more more of her history and her relationship with her mother whom she is fervently seeking contact with. I liked Perry and the idea of genetically evolved humans made a lot of sense. My only turn off was the pointy teeth and lion-like predator aspect of him which I know was part of the adaptation to his world, but threw me for a loop. My favorite scene between both narrators involved Aria’s training to face a coven of cannibals on the roof of their allies’s protected community. If you know which one I am talking about it is awesome!
Under the Never Sky will appeal to fans of dystopian post apocalyptic fiction and it is unique int hat it has supernatural and fantasy elements. Already, those who got an advanced read are calling it amazing. I don’t know why it didn’t quite click with me but am hoping book two will fill in some of the world building and character connection gaps. I would recommend it for older teens and adults as there is heavy violence and two characters have a sexual relationship, though I appreciated that it was not described in detail and the author often left much of the romance to the readers imagination. Thanks so much to Harper Teen and Netgalley for the early peek.
About the author:
Veronica Rossi’s debut novel, UNDER THE NEVER SKY, will be published in over twenty international markets, starting on January 3rd 2012 in the United States. Film rights to the trilogy have been optioned by Warner Bros.