January 2, 2014 by Kira Lyn Blue
Book: Under the Never Sky
Series: Under the Never Sky Trilogy, Book 1
Author: Veronica Rossi
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 4 Impressed Squirrels
Normally at this point, I jump straight into a plot recap, but let’s hold off just a second. First, let me say why I rated this four impressed squirrels.
This is one of those books that manages to sit right on top of that thin line between science fiction and fantasy, easily weaving together the advanced technologies that are the hallmark of sci-fi and elements that I would consider to be paranormal.
This is the reason I chose to review this book, because it does something few others do, and does it very well. (If you can think of another example, hit me up in the comments section!)
Plot: Under the Never Sky puts us in a post-apocalyptic world that is segregated into two societies: the Dwellers and the Outsiders. The Dwellers live in what are essentially bubbled cities that protect them from the aether storms ravaging the planet. The Dwellers are genetically modified and bred humans who live out the majority of their lives in the Realms, networked digital worlds they access via their Smarteyes, a device worn over one eye. The Outsiders live harsh lives in tribal societies out in the apocalyptic wastelands and they may not have technology, but they do have certain special abilities.
Our heroine Aria is a Dweller, exiled from her safe home and hunting for her missing mother. Our hero Peregrine is a savage Outsider who’s desperately searching for his nephew who’s been kidnapped by Dwellers. Annnnd, blam! Boy’s and girl’s worlds collide.
Kira’s Take: It may be an age-old plot premise, but let me assure you that Rossi nails it. The world she created is truly unique and her characters are anything but cardboard cutouts. They have real depth, real feelings, and real personal missions. Yes, there’s romance but it does not overwhelm the larger plot. In fact, it was so refreshing to find a story where the hero and heroine do NOT feel that immediate draw towards each other in spite of the inherent chasm of being raised in two different worlds. Rossi’s approach is much more realistic and the book is so much better for it. These are characters I not only like to read about, but have real spine and strength so I genuinely respect them. These are the sort of characters I would want a YA audience to consider heroes and heroines.
I also really liked that in spite of the post-apocalyptic setting, Rossi’s world does not come across as bleak and depressing. There is danger and scrabbling for survival, but the tone feels more like traditional fantasy where there is wonder even in a dangerous world.
When I picked the book up on Amazon, I was a little worried because some reviewers mentioned pacing issues: that the first half is too slow and there’s too much description. I did not find that to be the case at all and I am a very impatient reader. I have been known to discard books that drone on in descriptive passages and refuse to address actual plot for pages on end. I personally felt that Rossi used just the right amount of exposition to explain her world.
Final Analysis: As much as I loved this book, there was still something missing from making it 5 stars, er squirrels. Normally when I read the first book in a series and like it, I absolutely must devour the rest of the series immediately. And for some reason, I feel content with just the first book on this one. I’m still trying to figure out why that is and can’t quite put my finger on it. But that doesn’t diminish my enjoyment of this installment in the series or from recommending it to either sci-fi or fantasy readers.
Have you read Under the Never Sky? Tell us what you thought below. No spoilers, please!