Friday, June 15, 2012

Book Review: UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi

Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky, #1)
Also see my review of Through the Ever Night

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was truly a delight to read. I enjoyed it on many levels. It's such a thoroughly realized world, coupled with a well-developed story. I can't wait for the next installment. I find myself thinking about these characters, even when I'm reading other books. That's a sign of a good book, and this is a stellar debut.

The hook really draws you in. At first I found it jarring, a group of bored teens traipsing around in a futuristic dystopian world that reminded me of LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding. The earth has become dangerous to live outside under a sky that fires down funnel clouds like a cross between a tornado and lightning, with a mixture of nuclear fallout. The Aether can kill you a million different ways.

The Dwellers (Moles) live in pods, which are sterile and cramped, and those who live there spend most of their time in Virtual Reality alternate locations so they "feel" like they've got more space to move around in. If you can imagine it, you can go there, although the term is "fraction."

When a band of miscreants break into a closed area with trees and rotting food, they're just trying to have "real" fun. They start a fire and it gets crazy. Without going into details, an Outsider (Savage)witnesses a killing and protects Aria, the MC. Their paths are destined to cross, and they will meet again.

However, when Aria is punished for being part of the juvenile delinquents, she doesn't think exile is what she'll receive in punishment, although that is exactly what happens. Facing this turning point drives the story forward, and shows how deftly Rossi weaves two disparate stories together into a breakneck convergence that will keep you turning pages.

Forced out to survive on her own in the wild, Aria is convinced she'll die. A chance encounter with Perry (the savage who helped her earlier) changes everything. She has something he needs (unknown to her) and he has something she needs (although she doesn't know it yet).

As the story progressed, I loved the contrast between the two worlds juxtaposed against each other, and it reminded me of a mash up of Beauty and the Beast meets Taming of the Shrew. It was captivating and drew me right into their love/hate relationship.

As the onion layers are peeled back, the Outsiders have heightened senses among some of them. These people are called Marked. They have heightened vision or hearing, or sometimes other things. You never know what the Aether can do to you, especially with prolonged exposure!

And, there are others as well.

The story moves along well, with great twists, turns and surprises. I loved it, and I am thrilled it's just the first book in a planned trilogy. If you haven't read this one, it's a WORTHY read. So powerfully written!

UPDATE: Having started book 2, I've realized just how much I missed these characters from the first book. That tells me something: Rossi has brought to life fully realized characters who are so real to me, I miss them like a friend in real life. This is a rare feat for a debut writer to pull off.

In addition, her themes of the modern world (technology driven, distant from one another, surface looks over inner beauty/qualities) vs. the savages in the wild (who we were before the internet and the great technology surge of the modern world, survivors, adapting to our environment, able to hunt and gather food, wrinkles, personality, inner beauty, reality more real than what the pods and the SmartEyes have to offer).

Rossi's depth as a writer increases exponentially as you continue to read this series. You'll want to go back and reread UTNS and the interstory, Roar and Liv once you've started THROUGH THE EVER NIGHT. I hope there's another installment between book 2 and INTO THE STILL BLUE (book 3). I'm head over heels in love with this series, and I'm not ashamed to say so. Thank you, Veronica Rossi, for such an amazing debut!

View all my reviews

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