Series: Under the Never Sky #1
Published by Harper on January 3rd, 2012
Genres: Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Young Adult
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.
This was an interesting one. It came quite highly recommended, I believe one of the most highly anticipated YA Dystopias of the year. But I’m a bit torn, hence my rating. There were things I liked, things I didn’t like, things I thought could have benefited from more elaboration, but ultimately I think it’s a good set up for a series. My liking for it though will depend on the next installment of the series. I’m sort of on the fence.
There were a lot of elements in this book that were amazingly good. I loved the concept of the Pods, the Realms, etc. These are the kinds of sci-fi elements that are extremely attractive to me. It was decent world building, but it had a lot of potential that it didn’t use optimally. The story was missing one chapter at the beginning. A normal day in the life of Aria and her visits to diverse Realms. Though Rossi tries to make up for this through a number of flashbacks through dialogue, the worldbuilding just isn’t as effective as it could have been. I do love the world, completely. It’s one of the more intriguing worlds that I’ve read about. However it was missing this opening overflowing with imagery that completely absorbs you into the world. Rossi leaves it up to your own imagination, which is not always bad, but it means the book doesn’t take advantage of all of its potential. When later Perry travels in the Realms, Rossi tries to make up for it and succeeds to some extent, but I still would have liked that chapter at the beginning.
Obviously I have to talk about the romance. I loved it and then it sort of fizzled out. I’m not completely sure how I feel about it now. The build up was completely amazing. I mean, think of Pride & Prejudice (hate-turns-to-love) crossed with Pocahontas (two cultures clashing). The build up was exactly the right tempo, it didn’t rush it at all. It was also made twice as beautiful by using the two point of views – seeing both characters gradually come to like each other and then more. However, when it happens, suddenly Rossi hits the fast forward button. View Spoiler »Now I like a young adult book that is not skirting around sex, but I felt it was way too early here, despite the circumstances. « Hide Spoiler Even ignoring that, the romance became almost too sappy for me. It was really borderline. I liked the book a lot up to the first kiss, and then it went a bit downhill.
Aria as a main character is an important point to talk about. Having read other reviews, she annoyed some readers. I can see why. But I think Aria was such a realistic character. Having come from the Pods and never having experienced anything at all, it’s only logical that she wouldn’t be the bad ass strong female character. But she is headstrong. All that walking with those wounded feet, and never complaining. Perry noted that that was impressive, and it is guys. So she can’t fight. She learned. She had a fair bit of development that I really loved reading about. And I hope after so much training with Roar, she’ll be a really strong character in the next book. It would fit the trend in any case. So, all in all, while I usually don’t like “normal”/almost weak/almost damsel in distress type characters, Aria was very well created and I didn’t mind her at all.
Without knowing it I’ve recently been picking up a lot of books with multiple povs. I already mentioned it in the romance part of this review, but I felt here that Rossi did a tremendous job. It deserves applause. It’s the first time that I totally don’t mind multiple povs. It might be due to the fact that both main characters are not irritating in their narrations. It might be due to the fact that they’re mostly together for all the events, so you don’t feel like you’re missing things. Maybe it’s just Rossi’s writing style. But I really liked it this time.
The ending was a bit rushed. View Spoiler »There was no big cliffhanger. In some ways, I do really like that. But the last chapter was maybe more of an epilogue. Some time had passed between the penultimate chapter and the last chapter and suddenly it just made no sense at all. Or, well, little sense. Why did Aria go back to Delphi? Why didn’t she try to contact Perry before that? What was she doing the whole winter? Just.. what? And the very end, the last two paragraphs, tried to make up for the lack of cliffhanger but did it in such a half-assed way that I didn’t really care. « Hide Spoiler