Rummanah Aasi
 I've been in a post-apocalyptic and dystopian slump for quite some time. After reading a slew of books in this genre, where every story and characters felt the same. I figured I was just burnt out from the genre and took a break. After reading several rave reviews, I was glad I took a chance on Veronica Rossi's debut novel, Under the Never Sky, to help me get out of my genre rut. Thank you to Harper Collins and Netgalley for an advanced reader's copy of the book.

Description (from Goodreads): 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.

Review: I'm not exactly sure which genre fits Under the Never Sky the best, but from what I've learned about the book's world I'm leaning towards post-apocalyptic. Regardless, it is a compelling account of characters searching for truth, love, and identity in two separate worlds. Aria has grown up in a Pod, where every aspect of life is highly regulated by technology and things can immediately happen just by thinking about it. Dwellers such as Aria lead sheltered, insulated lives in the Pod, enjoying protection from the often treacherous, unpredictable weather. They live their lives vicariously through their devices and really reminded me of the people glued to their chairs in the movie Wall-E. Peregrine lives outside of a Pod, an Outsider, in what the Dwellers consider perilous wastelands where humans live without the technology the Dwellers depend upon. The Outside world is very similar to what we would call the Stone Age where hunting, using ones survival skills are the only ways to guarantee your will survive.
  Aria and Peregerine's world intersects when ruling authorities banish Aria from the Pod and Peregrine loses something very valuable to the Dwellers. The two characters struck up an unlikely alliance as they help one another on separate quests that turn out to have unexpected connections. While the plot of Under the Never Sky isn't groundbreaking and uses common tropes of the genre, I really liked the characters and the traditional use of an epic journey that entails action, romance, and humor.
 Using alternating points of views, we are able to get to know the main characters intimately. I thought Aria's chapters were cold, whiny, and removed at first, which exemplifies her Dwelling lifestyle. She has grown accustomed to getting what she wants immediately just by voicing her desires and quickly moves into a fetal position when she's thrown out of her comfy home (not that I don't blame her). I loved her development from a passive to a strong girl who can fend for herself and roll with the punches. Her transition isn't immediate and does mess up but her determination is admirable. Unlike Aria's chapters, I instantly connected to Peregrine's as his voice was filled with real, raw, emotions. While he may be commonly seen as a 'cave man' to Aria, we quickly learn how much he cares about his family and his fears of becoming the leader of his tribe. Aria and Peregrine not only strike up a rocky friendship, but they slowly dispel their stereotypes of one another, gain mutual respect and admiration. Their romance slowly burns and for the most part a bonus to their story as they never lose sight of their original mission.
  Rossi establishes her world building in creating a unique language for her characters, which add texture to their respective regions. As a reader you plunge head first into the action with very little explanation. Thankfully, I was aware of this before reading the book and it didn't hinder my enjoyment too much as I expected it. I did, however, grow a bit frustrated in trying to figure out what exactly are the Aether storms and how the weather helped mutate the Outsider's genetics as they are known to have special powers, which are repeatedly mentioned. I also didn't like the book's abrupt ending. I hope these issues are addressed in the next book, which I'll definitely will be reading. Rossi has got me hooked and I can't wait to see what happens next in her offbeat and mesmerizing series.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong violence, a few scenes of underage drinking, and a few allusions to sex. Recommended for Grades 8 and up.

If you like this book try: Blood Red Road by Moira Young, Graceling by Kristin Cashore
7 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    YAY!!!! I just adored this book:) I loved how Aria grew throughout the book and turned into someone who could look out for herself, and I loved how Perry didn't force his assistance on her or ever treat her like she was a helpless girl (even though she was in the beginning). Beautiful review Rummanah!

  2. I have this book sitting on my book shelves, but have yet to read it. I think I'd be very frustrated by the lack of explanation and the abrupt ending, too, but it does sound like an uniquely crafted world, so I'm intrigued.

  3. Okay, you had me at post-apocalyptic with a Wall-E reference... but then you said the ending stops suddenly? Eep! I hate those. As much as this sounds like a book I'd love... I think I may wait for the next book to be released before picking this one up. That way I may not throw the book out the window. LOL

  4. @Jenny: I agree and I did feel bad for her to be thrown out to the wild and fend for herself. Glad she stopped whining!

    @Missie: I think knowing about the flaws ahead of time wasn't as jarring but I did expect a little more explanation than what we were given.

    @Melissa: Glad someone got my Wall-E reference. LOL! It's wasn't really a cliffhanger ending, but there is this big meeting that happens and it just ends. Ugh.

  5. I've heard good things about this book. I hope to read it some time soon, even though I'm not a fan of post-ap books. I often like alternating points of view because as you said, it allows us to get to know multiple characters intimately. It can be hard to get into though with the switches.

  6. Yay, I'm glad you got hooked into this one too :) I actually had a more difficult time initially connecting with Perry initially but came to love him later on, and I really enjoyed seeing Aria develop confidence in herself and become a strong character.

  7. Nat Says:

    Great review, I tried this one but it didn't click for me. I got frustrated by the lack of explanation and gave up. I agree about being in a dystopian slump!

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