Author: Veronica Rossi
Genre: YA - Dystopia
How I Obtained Said Book: Public library. 'Tis a beautiful place.
Series: Book 1 to the Under the Never Sky series
The Blurb: (from Goodreads)
WORLDS KEPT THEM APART.
DESTINY BROUGHT THEM TOGETHER.
Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she's never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.
Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He's searching for someone too. He's also wild - a savage - but might be her best hope at staying alive.
If they can survive, they are each other's best hope for finding answers. *
The Review: (As always, there could be spoilers)
Aria lives in a post-apocalyptic world where the inhabitants of it are divided into two distinct groups: the Dwellers (known as Moles to the Outsiders) who live in heavily protected "Pods" with hundreds of virtual worlds made possible by their special eye patches known as Smarteyes, and the Outsiders (known as Savages to the Dwellers), who live in tribes outside these supposedly perfect domes, in the wilderness, surviving without technology and luxury.
This is probably one of the few books where I can actually tolerate switching POVs, and thankfully it's in third person. The book opens through the perspective of Aria who, along with her friends, are fooling around in a section of Reverie. Led by the son of the Man Who's In Charge of Security in Reverie, they disable their Smarteyes and sink into the real world. Unfortunately, the son, Soren, is plainly a madman; he's a pyromaniac, mind you, as when the group make it out of the dome and to the Outside, Soren starts a fire in a forest without any experience on fire whatsoever, just to see an actual unvirtualized fire. Of course the fire spreads, putting Aria and her friends in potential harm. Some are killed, and Aria would have been as well if it weren't for the Outsider who saved her.
Perry is the brother of the Blood Lord of his tribe, Tide. He has a conflicted past and values, as he wants to be Blood Lord (believing that his older brother is not doing that good of a job), but he can't become one unless he kills his brother or forces him into submission, which Perry believes would emotionally hurt his young nephew whom he cares for very deeply. But Perry also brings constant trouble to his tribe without meaning to, even though he always has the best intentions at heart. Finding Aria, for example, in a forbidden area way out of his tribal domain was a huge risk and a huge mistake, despite the fact that Perry had only wanted to find medicine to help his sick nephew (and besides, Reverie had some high-tech stuff, really). Upon saving Aria, however, Perry also takes her Smarteye, and his action eventually causes his nephew to be abducted by the "Dwellers". It also causes Aria to be exiled from Reverie, left alone to die in the wilderness. But Perry ends up finding her once again after he was exiled from Tide, and together they struck up a grudging bargain marred at first with mutual hatred: if Aria helps Perry find his nephew, then Perry will take Aria to her mother in another Dweller Pod.
I think one of the main reasons I loved this book so much was because of the fact that THERE WAS RELATIONSHIP DEVELOPMENT. And: NO LOVE TRIANGLES.
It was a hallelujah moment. But I'll get to that later.
I've got to say, at first I thought I would strongly dislike Under the Never Sky. After reading the blurb of the book, I thought the plot was weak (except for the implied character-relationship-development part. Amen to that, man.) and typical (if you ever happen to pick up the book and flip to the front flap, you'll see that in the blurb it says, "Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile", and the sheltered-fragile combo of a MC is a huge pet peeve of mine). Probably the one thing that got me to read it was this little section from Veronica Rossi's author bio in the back:
"...it's since captivated publishers in more than twenty countries worldwide and been optioned for film by Warner Bros."Holy crap! Twenty countries as a debut! And a movie option to top it off. So, yes, I was impressed, and yes, I wanted to see just what has interested twenty countries and Warner Bros., even if the blurb sounded a little tacky.
Man, oh man. I made a pretty smart decision.
First off, Aria is not sheltered nor fragile. Yes, this goes back to the whole "appears to be sheltered and fragile--but really isn't!" part I mentioned in my Love Triangle post (and how I dislike MCs like that), but in my defense...! Aria was different from typical fake-sheltered-fragile MCs. Normally if you're a fake-sheltered-fragile MC, you have that inner "fiery personality" that can be both adorable and endearing. Aria doesn't have this. She really doesn't. She's silly and ridiculous and doesn't try to be tough or fiery or whatever, and throughout the book, she makes some pretty stupid mistakes--which, by the way, is a GOOD thing. I LOVE flaws. Love them. Plus, Perry spends half of the book hating her guts, and vice versa, which doesn't make her a Mary Sue. Thank goodness.
Perry is short for "Peregrine", and once again, thank goodness that's true because the first image that popped into my head when I saw his name was this:
I'd like to say that I didn't let this mess up my judgement of him in the beginning, but then I'd be lying. However, that did end up changing, so I think that's some redemption. I ended up loving Perry, not because he's dedicated and noble and totally not shallow. Also, he has flaws. And like I said before, he ended up hating Aria throughout half of the novel, but then gradually began to like her--which, guys, brings us to the development section of this review.
There was character development! Relationship development! I loved how Ms. Rossi didn't automatically put Aria and Perry at a lover's status. I loved how she didn't make them two people with raging hormones either (and yes, I know this is a YA novel but come on, it doesn't always have to be like that, right?). She made their relationship unfold gradually and change carefully with believable elements. It was beautiful, to say the least. And by beautiful I mean it actually made me feel emotion while reading the book, which is exactly what an author should be able to do. Joyful emotions and heart-wrenching emotions. For example (SPOILER ALERT. Highlight to read.) When Perry and Aria were going to part ways in the last few chapters, I was actually feeling absolutely awful and torn. I mean, all right, I knew they were going to end up eventually in the end, but that didn't change anything. How Perry felt afterwards was written so well that I really felt myself sympathizing with him. With both of them. Thank you thank you thank you, Ms. Rossi.
The world building itself in the novel exceeded my expectations for various reasons: while I initially thought it was going to be a Typical YA Dystopia, I was proven wrong when I was introduced to the different abilities Perry's clan has, and its clan affairs. Also, there were cannibals. I have had yet to read a book that has to do with cannibals (this might either sound very familiar, or very sad). And freak, electric-charged storms (called Aether storms. And I know all storms are electric-charged, but trust me, this one is different). And I still have about a billion questions on how Aria and Perry's dystopia world came to be. Plus at the end of the book, it's hinted that there's a possibility a world exists away from the Aether storms, which is pretty intriguing. Where could it be? Dystopian Antarctica?
I loved loved loved Under the Never Sky, and I'll definitely be picking up the sequel Through the Ever Night. I must. Find out. What happens. To Aria and Perry. Their relationship was freaking amazing. Plus, I have to know if the Aether-free-world is in Antarctica or not. Which it probably isn't, but we'll see.
Rating: 9 - I love you.
* The Goodreads blurb really doesn't do this book justice. You can read what I believe to be a much better blurb here. Though the Goodreads blurb still did a good job :]