Friday, January 27, 2012

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

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 a barbarian, 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.

The imagination and scope of Under the Never Sky is immense. Rossi’s debut is no small undertaking. It involves incredible world-building, weaving together two worlds (one super-tech-y and sci-fi, the other like an ancient/primitive civilisation but even within that there were hierarchies (blood lords), traditions, and sci-fi/paranormal elements (whew!). Add to this, the alternating of two POVs, and you have a vast, complex and unique YA novel. 

Under the Never Sky is often bandied about as a YA dystopian. It is not a dystopian, IMO. It is futuristic with sci-fi elements, most surely post-apocalyptic (but an apocalypse is never referred to in detail). Despite all the techno gadgetry, it read, to me, a little like a fantasy: two unlikely companions teamed up to help each other fulfill their personal missions. There’s a lot of travel and exploration and dangers along the way. They meet different characters, all crafted with their unique, lively personalities, and stay in different places: in caves, in fortified cities, trees, and in places with earthly relics of a time long past, etc. 

The world-building is nicely done in snatches, lots of specific lingo to grab a hold of. I felt the more interesting parts of the world Rossi has created were often sidelined by the plot always moving forward. (I would get intrigued by a concept/idea/revelation and then BAM, next scene, moving right along...) 

The prose is more descriptive than lyrical. Action sequences abound, and are well articulated yet I felt no emotion/adrenalin on behalf of the characters when they were fighting for their lives. 

On one hand, I am quite in awe of the fabulous premise and diverse world Rossi created. On the other, I mostly don’t care. I think this is just a case of this book is just not my thing. The only things I can critique are all pertinent to my personal reading taste. For whatever reason, I was not grabbed by this book, yet I loyally trudged my way through it, admiring it in places, yet never bonding to it. 

Before I close, I have to comment on the (romantic)relationship between Perry and Aria: it didn’t work for me. For the first half of the novel, they have an antagonistic/indifferent vibe, yet even in that I felt no tension, no anticipation, no undercurrent of sexytimes to come. They were just...there. Then, like the flip of a switch, at the magical 50% mark, she noticed his smile, he couldn’t stop waxing poetic about her violet smell and BAM = love. I felt like there was no groundwork for their attraction and friendship, despite not really beginning it until halfway through the book. Baffled. 

Overall: I thought it was okay. I tend to review based on how I feel about a book, not so much on the objective merit of the book > I’ll happily endorse the book as a creative and original YA read to those people who are intrigued by the premise. (I DO get those people who rave about this one, it could well be suited to you).

Under the Never Sky @ goodreads (Current rating: 4.28 stars out of 1, 183 ratings = impressive)

Thanks to Netgalley and HarperCollins for the e-arc


  1. Umm... the romance doesn't quite sound like it holds the type of chemistry I usually find satisfying, but the world building is something I'm curious about. Though, like you, it may just not be my thing either. I'm not much for sci-fi to being with.

    But since I do have this book sitting on my bookshelf, I'll get around to it someday.

  2. I've heard generally favorable, but some mixed reviews on this one. However, I am a sucker for some good mythical illusions (Aether), so I'm hoping to fit this one in somewhere. Too bad it has Boring Couple Syndrome.

  3. This sounds good, except probably for the romantic side of it (as I really like romances, if possible, good ones).
    Still you make me want to read it, and as the character's name resembles mine, I have one more reasond to want too ;))
    Happy midnight reading!

  4. yeahh. the romance seems to have everything going for it which annoys me. doesn't seem like a whole lot of chemistry. not really wow-ed by the premise either. thanks for the great and honest review Nomes. I always get a little giddy when i see a new post by you :)

  5. Uh, this review is... perfection. I know *EXACTLY* how you feel--the way you described it: "On one hand, I am quite in awe of the fabulous premise and diverse world Rossi created. On the other, I mostly don’t care. I think this is just a case of this book is just not my thing. The only things I can critique are all pertinent to my personal reading taste. For whatever reason, I was not grabbed by this book, yet I loyally trudged my way through it, admiring it in places, yet never bonding to it." is *exactly* how I felt about Pure, but can never quite articulate when I stumble across the issue. It's kind of frustrating... when you can admire a book appreciate a fantastic premise, yet--for whatever reason--can't connect with it.

    Oh, and I agree with you on the Dystopian label for a few books I've read recently... it just seems to be default for so many books at the moment. The easiest thing to pin it as, given it's so popular at the moment?

    I initially avoided this one after feeling kind of burned out on 'dystopians' post-Pure... I was thinking of picking it up, and I still *might*, but you've summed up every issue I imagined I'd have with it, and there's so many other amazing books I want to read! (like Bittersweet, which I've been DYING for since reading your review a couple of weeks ago!)

    ANYWAY! I'm sorry. I'm ending this epic comment here. THANK YOU for an AMAZING review! xx

  6. But when Aria gets into trouble, she's cast out of her Pod and sent to the Outside World, where the sky is constantly filled with Aether (super intense lightning storms) and people have gone back to more primitive forms of living. Except they're not as primitive as we first think. Some of them have special talents of their own.

  7. I'm still on the sidelines with this one; guess it's going to be pushed back a bit to make way for other things that sound more my style.

    btw, LOVE the pics of your kids!!! :)

  8. I am still yet to add this to my to-read list as I just don't know if it's the sort of book I'll like. I'm so glad to read your review because all I keep reading are 5star reviews!


  9. Reviews are all over the place on this one (reviews by my friends at least - average rating says enough about other people), but since our tastes are usually so similar, I think I'll just skip this one. I'm a little tired of the genre altogether.

  10. I don't know how I felt about this one. I was in a readalong and didn't complete it so I don't really know how I will rate it when I finish it:-/ I fear I might feel the same as you...

  11. I'm really tired of everyone calling this a dystopian. *sigh* I'm happy you agree with me.

    I thought my dislike of the book came from too much "stuff" (fantasy, sci-fi, and more) in not so many pages. After I read this book and another (and I even just finished one now), I am keeping FAR away from reading/reviewing any apoc/post-apoc/dystopian books. They all have been falling short for me lately.

    I was bothered by Perry's teeth. I couldn't get over that. lol.


Thanks for the commenty love :)