Review: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Publication Date: January 3rd, 2012
Harper
Format: Hardback, 376 pages
RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars
SUMMARY
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.

Aria’s world was a utopian dream – or nightmare depending on how you’d look at it. Inside the pods, there were no violence and fear, all thanks to the disablement of the limbic system – a part of the brain which controls a person’s thought processes and reactionary impulses. It’s how CGS managed to contain the Dwelers’ society. The story begins when we see Aria in cohoots with the popular, Soren with an underlying motive of extracting information about her mother who suddenly dropped off the grid. But she wasn’t prepared for Soren’s own motives for taking her outside the secured perimeter of the pods. Things went awry whe she found herself the object of Soren’s violent tendencies and on the run for her life. Much to her surprise, she was saved by an interloper – a savage from the outside. Because of Soren’s father’s role in the community, she was evicted to the world outside the walls of the pods. Aria was left to her own defences. Aether storms, thirst and hunger…they’re nothing compared to being in the mercy of the same savage who saved her life.

My primary grievance is that I wish  Ms. Rossi was able to give us a better view of what living inside the pods was like. Unfortunately, the story started outside of that perfect world. As much as I hate to compare books, I thought that it could’ve used the same attention to details as the utopian world inside Across the Universe by Beth Revis but perhaps I’m being unfair. Quite possibly, this was not the author’s intent at all. Maybe she wanted to show this perfect world on its dying breath. And in that case, I completely see where she was coming from. What would be the point, right? I am also aware that this is a serial book, and that there will be more to come. So my impatience for the lack of details may be unfounded.

Aside from that tiny flaw which I mentioned above, there really isn’t anything else I could complain about this book. I am amazed with the apparent magic – powers that thrummed through the Outsiders’ veins. The uniqueness of their powers were so basal. All of it was just heightened senses that they’ve used in order to survive and yet the author managed to make them spectacular. I’m interested to know more about Cinder’s powers though, mostly its origin. This thirteen year old boy possessed the most destructive ability of them all and it would be interesting to see how he would fare being in Perry’s tribe when he was so used to isolation. The thing about this novel is, the eclectic mix of futuristic and primitive worlds were blended into a compelling fantasy realm that is utterly unique.

Cannibals, wolves, and Aether storms that I could only describe as solar flares or multi-coloured fiery tornadoes – each one of these contributed to the incredible world that Ms. Rossi has created. The romance between the characters started off on the other side of love – hate, mostly prejudicial, which slowly trickled into something akin to uhm, imprinting or in Perry’s words, rendering. Theirs was not meant to be, however. The ending (dramatic pause)…the sweet fade to black spoke volumes of the intense connection between our characters and what will be instore for them in the next book.

I’m wanting.

Needing.

Dying for the next book.

Under the Never Sky was a perfect polygamistic marriage of dystopian, fantasy, suspense, and romance. I was thoroughly impressed with all the story elements that Ms. Rossi managed to mesh quite adeptly. It was clear that that she didn’t favour one over another during the writing process and it was amazing to see how everything worked. This is definitely my best dystopian read of 2012 so far.


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