Saturday, December 22, 2012

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Title: Under the Never Sky
Author: Veronica Rossi
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: January 3, 2012
Pages: 374 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: Bought it.
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Promotional Materials and More: audiobook clip | book trailer | author website

Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky, #1)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.


Despite it being advertised as a dystopian novel, this comes off more as a sci-fi post-apocalyptic novel. Friends warned me of this and I went into the novel a little better prepared for that, but Under the Never Sky still managed to disappoint me. Though atmospheric and absorbing for its first ten chapters or so, it quickly lost steam and I lost all interest in finishing it. That I did is pure bullheadedness on my part.

At first, Aria's world, what she went through in Ag 6, and her and Perry's initial journeys in the world outside the Pods had me hooked. The worldbuilding was incredibly sketchy, but that was okay; if a book is written enticingly enough, flawed worldbuilding is forgivable. What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang is a good example of me forgiving inadequate worldbuilding because I cared so much about Eva and Addie's stories. The writing is serviceable--not bad, but not remarkable either. Roar, however, is a lot of fun. He doesn't have much in the way of a three-dimensional personality, but he's fun.

Those opening chapters may be all that earns the novel its rating because there aren't any other good elements that come to mind. If these people spend most of their time in the virtual Realms and only the minority of people get up and work, why is there not a problem with obesity, staying in shape in general, and how everyone's muscular systems work? If they're in the Realms most of the time, they likely aren't getting up and doing much. This takes place in our future, not an alternate universe where our societies never existed, so what happened to cause the Unity? What exactly is the Unity? Just a random time when the sky became infected with Aether and the storms started happening?

These and many more questions plague the novel, and the characters aren't interesting enough to draw my mind away from all that. Aria starts out well as she adjusts to the world outside the Pods and tries to discover her mother's message to her, but Perry never really has a chance. The whole situation with one parent blaming a child for the other parent's death is something that really happens in life. I realize this. UtNS is one of the novels that makes this feel like a tired old trope. Perry's shortcut to angst, even. All the pain with none of the work.

Maybe I feel that way about Perry's backstory because so much of the story lacks tension and the ability to impact me. The unpredictable twists were well-written, but they didn't make me feel anything more than indifference. Why Perry's dad hated him? M'kay. The secret Aria's mom kept from her? Whatever. The short action scenes and all the running they did from the angry Croven people lacked tension, and finishing off the novel even when I only had fifty pages left was a struggle. Quite simply, it failed to reel me in and get me invested.

I don't think I'll be sticking around for Through the Ever Night, which comes out a little over two weeks after this review is posted. So many of my friends adore this novel, but I always seem to be the odd one out. Oh well. What happens happens.

What am I reading next?: The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd