Monday, December 9, 2013
Review: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Review: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Release date: January 3rd, 2012
Series: #1 in the Under the Never Sky trilogy
Rating: It took me a bit to get into it, but once I was, OH BOY. I binge-read the ENTIRE series in a couple of days.
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.
I can't believe I waited so long to star this series. The vast majority of my close bloggers friends have been screaming at me about this book. "OH MY GOD THIS SERIES! Just wait until you meet Roar! Book Two is even better! DID I MENTION ROAR??"
Well, I'm glad to say that my close blogger friends were right. While this, the first book in the series, is the weakest of the trilogy, it is still overflowing with danger, lush and evocative writing, tremendous characters, romance, and Roar. Especially Roar. Extra points for Roar.
We first meet Aria in the worst moment of her life so far--the day disaster strikes and she's banished from her enclosed, protective pod. I though the book should have started earlier. I wanted a little bit of a sense of Aria's life in the Realms--virtual realities where you can go anywhere, anyplace, anytime--and her personality when she's not on the run for her life, and a sense of her friendships. Her best friend dies in the opening scene (not a spoiler--it's the opening scene) and I didn't care, because I didn't have a connection to any of these people. Then we switch over to Perry's world, and they're tossing around terminology (Auds and Scires and Blood Lords and whaaaa my braaaain) like you totally know what's going on, and I was like, "I DO NOT GET."
It's as the story progressed that I became invested. The duplicitous Hess, councilman of Reverie, pins the blame on Aria and boots her out into a harsh and brutal wasteland where she's certain to die. Until she meets Perry, who... well, let's all have a moment of silence in which we appreciate Perry. Mmmm. I love Perry. He has a lot of growing up to do, but he's so strong and loyal and brave. He has a butt of a brother, Vale, who is the leader of their tribe, even though Perry wants to be the leader, and a nephew he loves more than anything. I want to cuddle Perry.
The Outside world is about as different from cushy, technologically advanced Reverie as you can get. It's a kill or be killed world wholly at the mercy of the tempestuous, Aether-filled skies. The Outsiders have banded into tribes and are led by Blood Lords. Some have developed special abilities: to hear, smell, or see better than other, to an almost supernatural degree. Perry can see in the dark, but he can also scent people's tempers and emotions, which was WAY COOL to read about. The way Rossi describes the scent of hope, fear, longing, or anger... it was so visceral, it was almost like I could smell it.
The plot was very different than I was expecting, though honestly, I didn't know what I was expecting. Told in alternating (and successful) 3rd person POVs, Under the Never Sky is mostly about Aria and Perry learning to set aside their difference so they can work together to find Aria's mother and Perry's kidnapped nephew. Of course, romance blossoms, cannibals try to eat them, and they run into the mysterious boy Cinder and my future husband Roar, Perry's best friend who's in love with Perry's sister, Liv (damn!).
Where Rossi hooked me was the characters, particularly the main three. Aria is sheltered and judgmental to begin, but she blossoms and strengthens in the Outside. Perry both softens and grows into his own, and, well... Roar? Handsome, witty, boisterous Roar? BE STILL MY HEART. His iron friendship with Perry is adorable, and I especially love how he comes to bond with Aria, too. I ship their friendship intensely.
SWOONS, THEY ARE BROUGHT. While this hate-to-love story might have turned to love a litttle too quickly, it's not insta-love, and I totally get it. There's a scene on a roof where I literally clutched the book to my chest and sighed dramatically, because I was swooning so. Swooooon. I'd heard much talk of the "Perry's berries" (un-clutch those pearls, it's quite PG), but I swooned the hardest on the roof. Both roofs. ROOFS FOR THE WIN.
The end is a bit of a fizzle, honestly, but I was so invested in the characters that I was happy to move right along into the sequel--while stopping to read the novella Roar and Liv first, which you should ABSOLUTELY DO. It's not necessary, but you will want to, because it's actually the best piece of writing Rossi has produced, and you get to live inside Roar's head! And you trust me, you want that.
While Under the Never Sky was a solid if not exemplary read, I beg you to get to it anyway just so you can read the sequel, which I'll be reviewing soon(ish) and which is exemplary.