Title: Under the Never Sky
Author: Veronica Rossi
Genre: Paranormal/Science Fiction
Publisher: Harper Collins
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 is a difficult book to review, at least for me. I read this book mostly because it was a debut, I had heard some decent things about it, and it sounded like an interesting premise. Plus the cover was cool. I’m a sucker for cool covers. When I finished it, though, I was left a little underwhelmed, but at the same time there were some things that I loved about this book. The things that annoyed me about this book, though, prevented me from giving it a high score overall, but I had trouble letting go of the interesting things that I did enjoy. So, I’m going to do something different and split up the different aspects of the novel and give them different reviews, to give people a better idea of why I gave this book a 3.5 even though there were some great parts.
First up, I’ll review Aria’s narration/perspective. Based on the synopsis, I thought this book was going to be all from her point of view. If that had been the case though, I’m not sure if I would have been able to finish this book. Not necessarily because Aria is a bad protagonist – she’s not overly whiny, considering how crazy her life gets, and she’s not overly obsessed with a potential romance. That said, the main reason I didn’t like Aria’s chapters was something that wasn’t even really in her control. Aria’s perspective was the futuristic voice of the book, the girl who lived in a world that had almost no personal interaction between people – instead, everything took place in the Realms, which is like being on the computer 24/7 instead of actually talking to people face-to-face, although in this case it’s as close to really being in different places as you can get. For some reason, dystopians where everything is really futuristic and there’s a bunch of slang that I don’t understand because it’s the future, not the present, really annoy me. I don’t want to live in a completely electronic world where people consider everyone who lives in nature ‘Savages.’ Of course, that’s not really Aria’s fault that she was born in this world, and therefore thinks being complimented on her amazing singing voice and good looks is silly because she has no control over that stuff, it’s just genetic engineering or something before she was even born. Aria tends to sing a lot, though, which I also found weird, but that’s not really a problem I have with her so much as something that I found weird. In the end, Aria got better and I didn’t cringe every time it was her turn to narrate, but overall I give Aria’s narration 3 stars, while the futuristic world she lived in gets a 2.5, not because it wasn’t thought out or anything, but because that kind of stuff doesn’t really interest me.
Now we’ll move onto Perry and his medieval-like world. I enjoyed this a lot more, not just because I thought Perry was a little more interesting, but because I liked reading about his world a lot more than Aria’s. He lived in a village ruled by a Blood Lord, who happened to be his older brother. There was a lot about his family that we didn’t really find out in this book, including much about his parents, who were both dead, and his sister, who I think made an appearance in this book but it didn’t really tell us. (That might be a spoiler, but that’s honestly me just guessing things) It was interesting to learn about how his world worked, though, and I found myself kind of rooting for Perry as he tried to get his nephew, the adorable Talon, back. There was a bit of a twist with his brother that I didn’t see coming, so that was an interesting way to end that subplot. And, even though Perry can be bloodthirsty, and fighting is one of his greatest skills, I think the author made him human enough for me to still feel compassion for him, even after he decapitated a cannibal (okay, that was probably a spoiler, but when you read that part, I’m pretty sure you’ll know that Perry and Aria aren’t going to be eaten by cannibals in the middle of the book…). So, in the end, I’m going to give Perry’s narration 4 stars, and his world gets 4, since I wish we could have learned a bit more about Perry’s backstory and the inner workings of his world.
For the final aspect of this review, I’m going to talk about the romance. Romance is basically a requirement for a young adult novel, so it’s no surprise that Aria and Perry end up having feelings for each other. I’m not going to say whether or not they act on those feelings by the end of the book, but I can say one thing: the romance, no matter how big a part it played in the book, almost ruined the book for me. Now, I’m a sucker for romances (as long as there’s plenty of action and plot happening around the romance), but for some reason I just hated this romance. Never mind, I know what the reason was: I just don’t like Perry and Aria together. From the beginning, I liked Perry – I thought he was a decent guy. He also had a very little, barely mentioned ‘relationship’ with a girl in his town. Even though we barely saw it, I liked the idea of him being with a nice, interesting (well, as interesting as a girl who shows up about twice in the book can get) from his village. Aria, even though she got better as the book went on, annoyed me a lot, and I really didn’t want them to end up together. Every time there was anything romantic between them – whether they were realizing their feelings for each other, acting obsessed with each other, or doing other ‘cutesy’ things that YA protagonist do when you know they’re going to end up together but aren’t yet. The romance wasn’t very rushed, although it did slightly spring out of nowhere, which only annoyed me more, but the fact that I didn’t like the two together leads me to give it 2 stars.
So, in the end, you can see why I felt so conflicted, and ended up giving it a 3.5 in the end. I’m not sure yet if I’m going to read the next book – while there were some cliff hangers, not to mention all of Perry’s backstory that wasn’t explored, I’m not sure if I can handle reading about their ‘blossoming’ romance. I wouldn’t be surprised if I ended up cheering for all the roadblocks that are surely to pop up in the upcoming books. It’ll probably depend on what the cover looks like (I know, that shouldn’t influence me, but it will, I know it will), what the synopsis is, and whether or not I have something better to read when I see it at the library.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars