Saturday, December 31, 2011

UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi

Title: UNDER THE NEVER SKY
Author: Veronica Rossi
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: January 3, 2012
Number of Pages: 384
Source of Book: ARC from NCTE Convention

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.
Something about this book has gotten under my skin. UNDER THE NEVER SKY is one of those books that grows on you. The more I sit here thinking about it (because I can't stop thinking about it now that I've finished it) the more I keep thinking how good it really was. It has a quiet impact that builds slowly until I realized that this story really got to me. Aria and Perry are both well-drawn characters who are fighting to do what's right, find answers, and keep themselves safe in a scary world where they often feel alone. They face fears, follow a journey, surmount obstacles, and literally fight to live while learning about each other and themselves. This book is equally both of their stories-told in third person but from alternating points of view (indicated first through the chapter headings of Aria or Perregrine). This story was so much more meaningful and layered because we got both of these perspectives.

The future world that Veronica has created is a scary place, and it's not survivable without friends and supporters, but who can be trusted in the wild unknown? Certainly not the ones you've been taught to be scared of your whole life...right? Aria finds out more than she expected to when she ends up in "The Death Shop" after a tragic event in the Pod where she has lived her whole life. In the Pod she has the newest technology and inventions that made life easy-much of it was spent in the "Realms" which are the virtual worlds in which they experience what it might be like outside, but can virtual ever be as good as real? And can one who has spent her life being scared of outsiders, come to trust them for her survival? And then there's the differences that these "savages" have. The elements of the senses that are enhanced in certain people added a layer that I really enjoyed reading about, and added conflicts that will greatly affect these characters. It also added some of the most beautifully written parts of the book in talking about how people's "tempers" look and smell. The conversations between Aria and Perry were engaging and drew me into their building relationship.

There are plot twists and reveals and secrets and insights that I did not expect throughout this book, which was a really good thing.  The pacing of the plot starts off letting us get used to this world, and then steadily increases as Aria and Perry set out on their journeys to save themselves and find those they love, until I found myself holding my breath at parts hoping for the best for these characters I enjoyed spending time with. This story is about strength and change and fears and subtle bravery and honesty and doing what's right no matter how at odds it seems with what you should be doing. There are touching moments and scary moments and heart-pounding moments and and exciting moments and tear-evoking moments and romantic moments and gasp-worthy moments and laugh out loud moments to lighten the mood (mostly provided by Roar). It's a quiet, subtle book in the way that it captured me into the story, wrapped around my heart, and wouldn't let me go - in the way of the Aether storms that they're all running from which are destroying the outside world.

The ending of this first book was beautifully conceived, and although it sets things up for what will need to happen in the next book, it still provided an ending to the main character's journeys in this first book that left me with a sense of completeness and contentedness for the journey they took in this book-and exemplified the strength they both discovered in themselves through each other. If it hadn't provided that ending, I would have been disappointed with a cliffhanger, but, thankfully, Veronica didn't do that to us, so I was able to end with a sense of peace and hope. I'm highly anticipating where this trilogy is going to head in the next book, and I can't wait to spend more time with Aria and Perry (and hopefully Roar and Cinder and Talon too!).

3 comments:

  1. I am so unbelievably jealous you have this! And have read it! I'm glad you loved it. =D It sounds amazing and I know it will be a great debut! Thanks for sharing!

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  2. I picked this up at NCTE with you, but I wasn't sure how much I really wanted to read it. Until I read your review, that is :) I'm actually kind of tempted to stop the book I'm reading to start this one! Great review!

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  3. Under The Never Sky (UTNS) was such an amazing story! With one of the first released of the new year that I read and loved I was totally swept away in this futurist tale of love and loss. Veronica Rossi has created an unbelievable powerhouse in her pair of characters that will get readers lost in the pages.

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