Thursday, 29 November 2012

Under the Never Sky - Veronica Rossi

Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky , #1)Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky #1)
 - Veronica Rossi
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

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 abarbarian, 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. (Description from Goodreads)

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It occurred to me while reading an early copy of ‘Through the Ever Night’ that I’d never actually finished my review of ‘Under the Never Sky.’ I love the book so much, that I found it hard to put into words exactly why I wanted everyone to read it and what stood out for me as the bits and pieces I loved and wanted to share with everyone. But I can’t escape the idea of spreading that love – so here is my late review, and I hope it shows how much I loved the book then; as well as now.

‘Under the Never Sky’ is a dystopia set in a world where only a tiny part of the population is controlled by a governing body under the pretence that it’s for their own protection. This part of the population live in many domed Pods all over the land, but we focus on Reverie. The Pods keeps the citizens safe from the destructive atmosphere outside, a lifestyle they’ve been cut off from for so long and they can no-longer live beyond their manufactured walls and worlds without dying. But there is a population on the outside and they have evolved throughout the 300 years since the world collapsed. I loved these split worlds. We get introduced to both through the main characters, Aria and Perry. You see the tension, lies and stories told to the Dwellers in Reverie and to the Outsiders, and you get to see how they look at each other – and then get to see those stereotypes and tensions least for some.

For me, Aria and Perry are perfect main characters. We get to see their emotions and thoughts through the spilt third person point-of-view. I love that we’re almost instantly introduced to both main characters at the same time; despite the fact that both characters come from different parts of the world and haven’t actually met yet. The tension, anger and emotion that is present while they’re learning to be around each other is incredible. I love that both main characters have situations and emotions that they have to fight to beat. I hate seeing weak main characters; I want my interest to be pulled in by their determination to never give up – and Perry and Aria are exactly like that; struggling to come to terms with their own problems, but always pushing themselves to get through their issues. Aria must try to overcome her fear of the outside world, as well as attempting to draw on hidden strengths to reach her mother in an outlying Pod, Bliss. While Perry struggles to accept that not everything he does will end in disaster and that befriending a Dweller might not be as bad an idea as he originally though. There is hardly any waiting to get the story rolling with these two and you fall into their separate views of the world so well. And obviously, a little of that tension between the two of them moves onto more than just friendship. They’ve become one of my favourite YA couples. I just love these two.

I usually think of dystopian novels as worlds where the government or a rebel body takes over complete control of everything; where the population is limited to only what that government wants them to do. But that’s not always the case, and ‘Under the Never Sky’ really shows there’s more to dystopias than just their oppressive governments with gadgets and invented organisations that trap all citizens. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed seeing this other side. While we do get to see inside the controlling world at the beginning, what we really get to see is the life outside the walls of the Dweller Pods, and there is so much going on. I mentioned that the outside world had evolved, well in a way they have and haven’t. Their lifestyles have moved backwards – small tribes and villages that struggle to find enough food and resources to make life worth living – but for some they have gained extra abilities from living in the outside world: heightened senses – sight, hearing, smell – that are sometimes all that stands between you and certain death. At first you read it thinking this has to be some sort of magic, a supernatural element to the story, but it isn’t; they really are just sense they are stronger than the average human’s.

But every dystopian world needs its weakness – the thing that needs to be overcome in order for everyone to live safely. And for ‘Under the Never Sky’ this is the Aether. The new sky patterns – sort of like super intense lightning funnelling towards the ground in intense storms and strikes – that can cause more destruction in a few minutes than anything before, and if big enough, these Aether storms can last a lot longer than a few minutes! We get hints and rumours of a land without Aether called the Still Blue. But it’s just a mystery place – a myth. The Aether is an interesting addition to the story. Unlike a controlling government or tribes that need to be fought, the Aether is unpredictable. The danger that comes from avoiding the Aether lifts up the excitement in the story and you just know it’s going to be a problem you can’t push aside for long.

What I adored about this book was the action. And it has got a lot of it. I can’t get enough of well written books that also have a bit of fighting and adventure. I love sword fights and treks across troubled lands. There are tribes that chase and attempt to kill Perry and Aria and the only way to escape them is to fight back. Aria must learn to defend herself and there are a few cute knife fighting lessons thrown into the mix. But what I love more is that Perry’s weapon of choice is the bow and arrow. Oh, a man after my own heart. I do like a good archer using his Outsider skills to hunt, fight and kill.

An amazing book full of adventure, excitement and the unknown. Just wait until you read, ‘Through the Ever Night’ – equally as incredible. I can’t get enough of this series.

5/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)


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