Title: Under the Never Sky
Author: Veronica Rossi
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publishing Date: January 3, 2012
Under the Never Sky deposits the reader into a disconcerting futuristic world where most of the remaining population lives partially underground in what are called pods. In order to keep their sanity in such a crowded enclosed space, these Dwellers spend most of their time in virtual reality “Realms” which advanced technology has created to almost perfectly simulate life, including senses like touch and smell. Within these realms, a simple thought causes action, no need to even walk or talk, just think it and you will be doing it in these “realms.” Its absolutely fascinating.
Aria’s mother is a geneticist doing some top secret studies in a pod hundreds of miles away from their home pod “Reverie.” When their link in the Realms is suddenly broken and Aria doesn’t hear from her mother for over a week, she is determined to find out what is going on. When her search causes her to cross people in high places, she finds herself exiled from the pods and deposited on the outside, which she is sure is a death sentence. All Aria knows of the outside is that those that live out there are savages, cannibals, and who knows what else. Not to mention the unpredictable Aether storms that rain fire down onto the earth, leaveing whole stretches of land nothing but scorched desolate wastelands. In order to survive, Aria strikes a deal with one of the dreaded Outsiders with the hope that he will help her locate her mother and get herself back inside and back into the Realms which is much better than reality.
At the beginning of Under the Never Sky, the main characters, Aria and Peregrine are not very likable characters at all. Both are immature, selfish, and inconsiderate. Both have ideas about who the other is based on the things they have heard, the stories they’ve been told about “Moles” and “Savages". Aria thinks he is a mindless violent barbarian and he thinks Aria is a weak idiot. Neither of them do much to prove the other wrong for a while, both so focused on their own personal pain and intentions that the other’s needs seem inconsequential to them. Throughout their journey, however, they come to discover the value in each others strengths and learn to appreciate one another a bit more.
Peregrine, or Perry, seemed at the beginning to be an immature, impulsive, brat who threw temper tantrums when he did not get his way and made dangerous choices with no thought for the consequences to himself or others. The power struggle with his brother over establishing dominance was fascinating but it was relationship with his nephew that brought out what was good in Perry at first. His character grows so much as he begins to learn from some of the consequences of his actions. By the end of this book, I’m halfway in love with him myself. I’m typically not one to go on about the romantic aspect of a book, but this was nearly perfectly done. The author made me go from dislike, to respect, to attraction right along with Aria, so of course the romance was completely believable for me!! And it definitely gets pretty hot and heavy!! Aria also grew as a character throughout the book and I came to really like and empathize with her. But to be honest, from when Peregrine first appeared in the pages, for me, the story became all about him. He’s one of those larger than life kind of characters that seems to fill up all the space on the page even when he’s the one that says the least.
I really enjoyed the contrast of the high tech world that Aria grew up in with the almost primitive world that Perry inhabits. Those that live outside the pods have adapted to the everchanging landscape and fierce and unpredictable ether storms. Some have very primitive and animalistic features and have also developed intensified senses, such as sight (night vision), smell (can scent emotions) and auditory (can hear minute noises from long distances). Perry is one of those rare people that have two overdeveloped senses, sight and smell. For him, all emotions have a very specific scent and he can nearly determine someones thoughts by the smell they give off. Its incredibly intriguing. I hope to learn more about what occurred to cause these changes in those that live outside the pods and how that caused some people to inherit these abilities.
There is so much I could say about how incredible this book was. From the fascinating yet terrifying world to the swoon-worthy romance to the intense plot, I LOVED this book. I also truly enjoyed the secondary characters, none of whom ever fell flat and each one continued to surprise me with unanticipated layers of depth. If I have one complaint about Under the Never Sky its that it ends on a cliffhanger, nothing is actually resolved in this story which is certainly frustrating, but I liked this books so much that I’m even willing to overlook that. That awesome twist at the end makes it all worth it! Wow, I didn’t even see that one coming at all!
I think Under the Never Sky is one of the best YA dystopias I’ve read and I highly recommend it! If you like thrilling, intense, sweeping, dramatic dystopias filled with action and a bit of romance then trust me, you definitely want this incredible read on your shelf!! This is a brilliant debut by Veronica Rossi and I am simply dying to read the sequel!!