Under the Never Sky – a Review

under the never skyWhile in Ft. Myers for two weeks, I picked up Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it, but my mind was quickly changed. Within the first 5 pages I was hooked. I absolutely loved this book and can’t wait for the sequel to come out.

The story was unlike any I’ve read before. I liked the authenticity of it, the grittiness of it. The story is told from male (Perry) and female (Aria) points of view. At first, the alternating chapters were a little hard to get used to, but I immediately fell into the cadence and looked forward to each character’s view of the world.

I loved watching Aria grow from being an outcast and sent to die in the outer wasteland known to her and her kind as the Death Shoppe, to her becoming a strong, warrior-like woman, who can survive cannibal attacks, dangerous and violent electrical Aether storms, and savages.

I enjoyed that Aria and Perry were so very different from each other. Aria was born in Reverie, an enclosed city. Everything is ‘perfect’ in Reverie – genetically modified perfect. Life is pristine, clean, safe. Procreation occurs scientifically. Girls don’t get pregnant. They don’t have periods. People don’t get ill. Physical ailments don’t exist. On the outside, where the savages (Perry) lives, the world is quite the opposite.

Each Aria and Perry are on their own journey when they find each other. I like that this story isn’t a typical romance. Their trust and respect for each other comes slowly. It’s tried. They both have something the other wants, but the information isn’t given freely or easily. The sheltered girl and the savage must learn to rely on each other’s strengths to get them through the journey they share together. I fell in love with both characters and the supporting cast.

The world-building is well done. It’s not thrown at the reader all at once. Instead, we’re treated to layers built upon layers over time. There is the technical, perfect Domes of Reverie, and the dangerous, desolate and devastating environment of the Death Shoppe. Each one plays their own roles in Aria’s and Perry’s quest – they both need something from the worlds opposite their own, and they need each other to find it.

I did find Aria a bit whiny in the beginning, but then again, considering her background, I can understand it. I had the impression that Perry was much older than Aria, so when the ‘romance’ began to bloom between them, I was a little weirded out. Then I found out his age and I was okay with it. Even though they are both teens, Perry still seems far more older than Aria, mentally, which gives me the ‘older man/younger woman’ vision in my head. It could be that she’s so naive and her body is ‘waking up’ at the age of 17 that gives me that impression. I found Perry’s description of Aria’s first ‘awakening’ at becoming a woman a little bizarre, funny, creepy and endearing. I’ve never heard a woman’s first menstrual cycle described in such a manner.

If I had to compare it to another book, I’d have to say it has some similar elements as Graceling. It is a dystopian, and while the book is aimed at fans of The Hunger Games, this novel is nothing like The Hunger Games. I will say it should appeal to more older teens – the 16 and up age group. There is some drinking, some mild violence (nothing like what was in The Hunger Games), and one sex scene that was handled with kid gloves (I like this approach in YA rather than full out hot and heavy sex scenes). If you enjoyed Blood Red Road, I think you’ll enjoy Under the Never Sky.

Next week I begin reading the second in the trilogy: Through the Ever Night. I can’t wait.