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.
Wow. I am at a loss here. What can I say about Under the Never Sky that you haven't already heard? I would like to be able throw a few "Squee's", a dash of "OMG's" and "Hot Guys, dead ahead" up and call it a review. And yes, that's lots of fun, and this book does deserve that sort of gushing, but truthfully, Under the Never Sky is so much more than that.
In my opinion, Under the Never Sky is a mash of the dystopian and post-apocalyptic genres. And typically, I'm not a huge fan of that type of book. They often feel very formulaic to me. So despite all of the buzz, I walked into it feeling very skeptical. To my exceeding relief, this potential problem was quickly nipped in the bud. The world, the characters, and the beautiful writing of author Veronica Rossi pulled me in, and carried me on a fantastic journey. At it's heart, that is exactly what UtNS is, a journey. The physical and emotional journey taken by a girl, Aria, and a boy, Peregrine (Perry for short).
The world in UtNS is two-fold. The Realms, where Aria comes from, was created when the Aether storms drove people underground. There is peace, control, sterility. Everything is experienced through simulations. On the Outside,Perry's home, civilization has reverted, almost back to primitive times. The world is frightening, wild, bleak, and brutal. Tribes fight to control patches of land, and when you leave your tribe, you face almost certain death.
Do you remember at the top of this review when I talked about "Squee's" and "OMG's"? Here's where that comes into play, though I'm going to try and hold back. The characters. I'm a sucker for a good story, but I turn into an squealing, spewing maniac when it comes to great characters. UtNS has them. The story is told in the alternating points-of-view of Aria and Perry, allowing you to know both them and their motivations so well.
Aria is everything I love in a heroine. After her protective world and everything she has know is taken away from her, she is understandably disoriented and scared. But after a moment or two to gather her wits and courage, she becomes stronger and more together than I could ever hope to be. She's never clingy, never whiny; she keeps putting one foot in front of the other and just keeps moving forward.
Perry; poor noble, brave, handsome Perry. Life on the Outside either kills you or makes you stronger. Perry is stronger. He is tormented by a tragic history, burdened by responsibility, wants to save everyone around him, wild but controlled. He doesn't use words lightly, so every word he speaks in of value.
The relationship between Perry and Aria is remarkable. Initially enemies, they form a tentative alliance and very slowly develop a respect and friendship towards one another. The slow build-up between them was delicious and had me on edge.
My favorite character award must go to Roar! And seriously, with a name like that, you know you're in for a treat. What an exhilarating guy! He is fun, wild, and hot, of course, described as having "a Prince's looks with a pirate's eyes", and has the best lines in the book (see my favorite quote below!)
Under the Never Sky is a book that I feel priveledged to have been able to read and review. The span of humanity veers from the most savage to the most tender of acts. And the ending? Forget about it, I loved it. I read the last three to four paragraphs at least ten times in a row after I finished the book, making sure my eyes didn't play tricks on me. It was perfect and left me insanely wild to read book two. Under the Never Sky, my fair friends, comes with the highest of recommendation.
Roar leaned across the table and smiled at her seductively, his dark hair falling into his eyes. 'When you say everything happens in the Realms, do you mean everything?'
Aria laughed nervously.'Yes. Especially that.There are no risks in the Realms.'
Roar's smile widened. 'You simply think it and it happens? And it actually feels real?'
'Why are we talking about this?'
'I need a Smarteye,' he said." (from pg 230)
Hardcover, US, 400 pages
Published January 3rd 2012 by HarperCollins
You can purchase Under the Never Sky at:
Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | Amazon
* I received an ARC of Under the Never Sky from Harper Teen, in exchange for an honest review. *