Title: Under the Never Sky
Author: Veronica Rossi
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Publisher: Harper Collins USA
Source: Personal Purchase
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 am no avid reader of dystopians, but I have studied what they are supposed to be. I have not seen this novel explicitly marketed as one, but with this dystopian trend, there is no need to. With that in mind, I was expecting a very meticulous yet enthralling depiction of the imaginary world Rossi created. Unfortunately, that was not the case. She merely scratched the surface, and left me to assume a lot. I felt like I was shoved into a world I had never been in, rather than gently beckoned to join. Though the worldbuilding was not exemplary, it sure left me pondering our own future. This is the result of Rossi's sharp contrasts between the Realms and "Real Life". You see, Reverie is this technologically advanced society that is practically a stimulation of real life. There are no diseases or anything that can prove a threat to existence. However, this utopia embodies a flaw that can cripple its existence. Conversely, there is real life, where Savages roam, fighting for survival. I was not left in trepidation after reading, but I did ponder: Will we end up living like that soon too?
As for the characterization, I was satisfied. Obviously, Rossi put some thought into their names, and she gave them their own voices. This helped to make the exchanges of dialogue interesting. What really captivated me is that each main character has a mission, an agonizing one that shows where the loyalties lie.These conflicts are presented early, and help readers to relate more to the characters. To me, conflict gets a plot going, which explains why Under the Never Sky is filled with enough action to keep you engaged.
Aria, the lead heroine, has some spunk, and that made me more favorable of her. Even when she needs to depend on Peregrine, who is a Savage, for her survival, she is wary. Sadly like most YA heroines before her, she falls heads over heels in lust with her male counterpart. Her mistrust and hate of Perry develops quickly into this romance. I gave a more critical eye to this escalation and realized that it took a tragedy, a truth and a transformation for this to occur. It is frustrating to see how YA authors reduce love to solely an instinct - a primitive excuse to touch each other, so I was glad Rossi provided somewhat of a foundation for their relationship. Rossi also explored their prejudices and helped them to realize that their differences can be set aside, whether for redemption, closure or survival.
Rossi's style is overall satisfactory. I mentioned earlier that the worldbuilding is lacking, and this is evident in the absence of lurid imagery. Dystopian novels require imagery that is so forceful, that is leaves an impression on the mind. Every novel requires this as a matter of fact, but especially those that are presenting a world you have never imagined or encountered before. I found that the only compelling instances of imagery are the ones depicting Aether storms and their damage. Sometimes though, I felt that these Aether storms are blatantly used to hurriedly shift the plot.
I found no other instance of Rossi being circuitous besides in her worldbuidling. I enjoyed the varying narratives between Aria and Perry. They were fluid and made chronological sense; they give readers a more in-depth look at what they experience. She also ends most chapters with a dangling conflict. I am one for cliffhanging chapters because they provide incentive to read further. This technique eventually immersed me in the lives of Peregrine and Aria, and I looked forward to how they would respond. And of course, there are those twists and the big twist. I think those are what helped me to appreciate the writing more, because I did not anticipate either of them. So while this is not a good example of a dystopian, it is certainly an enjoyable, thought-provoking read. I have already started on its sequel
3 / 5