Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi is told in alternating voice. Aria was born in a domed city, a world where everyone spends most of their time in the digital realms (like on Caprica). Perry lives in the real world in a settlement and has advanced senses. When Aria takes off her viewscreen and steps into the real world with some friends in a hope that one of them will be able to get some information on her mother. Things quickly get out of hand causing the deaths of a few of her friends and she finds herself kicked out of the dome and left to die where she meets up with Perry who is searching for his nephew who has been kidnapped by Aria's people. The two start on a journey together which will put both their lives at risk.
This is one of the books for the new year that has been over hyped and portrayed as totally fantastic. The back of the book compares it to The Hunger Games and Graceling which made me raise my eyebrows. It does not resemble the Hunger Games at all. In reality it's more like Graceling (people with strange enhanced powers and a couple going on a journey though a strange and dangerous world) combined with the digital world of Caprica set in a post apocalyptic wasteland. Ultimately however, it is a book about two unlikely characters meeting up going on a journey and falling in love while realizing they're more alike than they once thought.
This book was interesting but flawed. It has some major pacing issues and doesn't really come together until the two main characters meet up several chapters into the book and the book felt much longer than it really was. I had no problems putting the book down and wasn't anxious to pick it back up. The world is large and not fully explored and characters and situations are far too often left hanging with no resolution (although I'm sure they'll pop up in the later books). There were however some interesting ideas and situations in the book and I came to care about the characters and their motivations and I never felt like giving up on the book.
Appropriateness: This is a book that was obviously written for older teens. The characters act older and the book was fairly heavy, it is not a quick or light or fun read. There is one sex scene but it's so tame that you might miss it if you blink and the characters drink alcohol a few times (once with a character getting drunk and then getting himself into a fight because he's so upset). However there is a huge amount of senseless violence with characters killing without a second thought and for the most part feeling no remorse after the fact even when multiple people are killed. I would recommend this book to teens 14+ and caution parents of younger readers about the excesses of violence included in the story.
on January 15, 2012
There are some books that click with you, and some that don't. Under the Never Sky, for me, was one that did. I really can't explain why I liked it so much as I did. But I'll make an attempt.
The characters in here were very real and goal minded. They weren't suddenly pulled along into some ambling romance plot that turns them into pale imitations of their former selves. No, they all had specific things they were aiming for and weren't easily drawn off track as they had desire or time to be fooling off on side adventures that weren't worth their time. All these characters were resilient, strong of mind, and exemplary morals that they wouldn't allow themselves to be sullied.
I think one of my favorite parts of this book is the contrasts between Aria and Perry. Aria is the girl who's safe, sheltered, and kept from harm. Life is easy for her, she never has to struggle or want for things, until her mother goes missing and doesn't contact her for an extended period of time. Perry is the Outsider who's brought up outside of the protection of the Domes and has to fight for everything he wants and needs; including the basic necessities for survival. This has left him with more primal instincts and it makes him seem quite feral.
When they clash it's so fun. For people who are raised in two drastically different environments it's not logical for them to suddenly get along without misunderstandings, arguments, or for them to understand beliefs the other person may hold wholeheartedly. Aria and Perry have to actually work through their own prejudices, preconceived notions they have of the other, and their own narrow-minded and often ignorant thinking. I love how they went through the process of getting to know each other on a personal level which is gradual, realistic, and much better for the story development.
The world building? I think it's interesting how, like the characters, there's a split between the technologically advanced world of the Domes and the devastated and desolate environment of the Outside world that Perry lives in. This is one story where everything is not thrown at you at once but built upon layer by layer. I think this is an effective method, one that can be successful if pulled off correctly because you risk the chance of having your readers being way too confused and disinterested by the time the explanations roll around. Her background was unrolled slowly at crucial times that were beneficial. Plus there are cannibals in here! How can you go wrong with that? They're creepy and scary!
The only thing I can really say negatively about her world is Aether. What exactly is it anyway? I was never able to conceptualize it in my head. Is it like parts of the sky that literally rains down fire or something akin to lightning strikes in thunderstorms? Or is it some volatile form of magic that unleashes in devastating amounts of power when it interacts with another magic user or there's just too much of it built up in the air? I don't know, I was really lost about that.
Her writing? It's swift, smooth, and excellent at ramping up the pace for action scenes. It's easy to read but there were times when it was absolutely beautiful. These are only two parts that stuck out in my mind but I'm quite sure there were a lot more in the book.
"A world of nevers under a never sky."
This next one is a long one but I really like it. Aria is telling Perry what the lyrics of a song she sings means, and then what happens after.
"How the stars shone. How sweet the earth smelled. The orchard gate creaked, and a footstep pressed on the sand. And she entered, fragrant as a flower, and fell into my arms. Oh, sweet kisses, lingering caresses. Slowly, trembling, I gazed upon her beauty. Now my dreams of true love is lost forever. My last hour has flown, and I die, hopeless, and never have I loved life more."
They reached for each other then like some force had pulled their hands together. Aria looked at their fingers as they laced together, bringing her the sensation of his touch. Of warmth and calluses. Soft and hard together. She absorbed the terror and beauty of him and his world. Of every moment over the past days. All of it, filling her up like the first breath she'd ever taken. And never had she loved life more.
Obviously this is referring to a part of the book that builds upon their romance. I wish it hadn't been so strong because while I loved how they spent the time to actually know each other first, I wasn't in the mood for the romance part of it. I guess I was hoping for more adventure. Don't worry; this doesn't devolve into some overblown relationship smorgasbord of angst, drama, and ridiculous character antics. Aria and Perry cherish the time together because it's all they have right now but they both have different goals and they're not going to put a relationship over them. They do what they have to.
I have to say, if you liked or loved Blood Red Road, I'm quite sure you'll like this book. The tone and adventure aspect of both books are very similar. Under the Never Sky might not be the new greatest dystopian novel on the market but it is good and well worth the read.
on July 3, 2012
Actual rating 3 1/2 stars.
You guys have no idea how long this book was on my list. I mean, seriously. I wanted this SO MUCH when it first came out, and I was ecstatic to have finally gotten it after hearing such great things about it.
So you can imagine my frustration with the entire first half of this book.
The biggest issue for me was the amount of unexplained exposition. I kept having this feel of being THIS CLOSE to falling head over heels for this book, just as soon as a few more things made sense. However, it seemed like every time I approached that precipice, I was attacked with more words that I was supposed to figure out on my own. "Blood-Lord," "Scire," "Aether storms"-that's only the beginning of the strange words. Actually, I felt like I was being taught to read Shakespeare all over again, hearing my teacher say "Now, if you don't understand the word, read the words around it and see if you can infer its meaning." I can usually forgive this in a book somewhat, if I'm enjoying the read, but this continued until almost exactly half way through.
The characters of Aria and Perry aren't exactly stellar in the first part either. Aria seems to be devolving into your typical cliché female heroine and Perry is having a bipolar characterization where he isn't sure if he should kill his brother and take over his tribe or leave his tribe altogether because he doesn't want to hurt anyone.
But then you reach that almost exact middle point of the book. On one page, you have Perry thinking that menstruation smells like violets. On the opposite page (the book switches between Aria and Perry's POVs), you have Aria freaking out because she can now "conceive at random." I stared at these pages for a good long time wondering just what in the world was happening. Then I turned the page, warily.
And the book got exponentially better.
Aria and Perry become likeable characters. Aria shows you that she isn't a whiny, helpless girl, but she isn't obnoxious (too much, anyways) either. Perry gets more depth, and you begin to understand him (and his tribal structure, thank goodness) so much better. Add in Perry's best friend Roar and the interesting and there-for-too-few-pages Cinder with his AWESOME power, and you've got a fantastic mix of characters and story that flows along so much better.
You then, of course, proceed to have some YA romance, but it honestly wasn't so bad. Aria and Perry do take the chance to get to know and trust each other before deciding they love each other, which made me absolutely delighted. It was decidedly real. Until the last few pages of the book, which made me roll my eyes, but also made me want the next one NOW. So, you know.
Overall, I did enjoy this book. Perhaps someday I'll reread it a few more times and see if I can get some more understanding out of the first half. The world, the characters and the story throughout were wonderful, it was just in the second half that they were fantastic. Fans of dystopian should be aware that Under the Never Sky would have possibly been more appropriate with a sci-fi label, because it's very easy to forget this is supposed to be our Earth we're reading about, but I really liked that. You can bet I'll be reading the sequel!
Aria lives in a Pod, a very futuristic technology-filled compound. Perry lives Outside, facing cruel tribe-wars and fighting to survive on a day-to-day basis. And they both face their worst nightmares under a dangerous aether sky.
I often have a problem with third person when it comes to dystopia. First person is definitely the best way to read realistic and third is definitely the best way for high fantasy, but dystopia is right there in the middle. I cringed when I saw it was third. And I shamefully admit, I shouldn't have. Because after a rocky and rather slow beginning, it was magic. A full connection to these amazing characters. It's hard to pull away once you fall in love with the characters.
I loved trying to imagine unimaginable things, like the realms, and actually being able to picture them. The world-building was rich and unusual and fulfilling. And the plot was just very well done. The story was simply amazing and engaging and page-turning. That ending! Aahhh.
The title is very ambitious. I loved it when I first heard it, but I doubted it could fit the book. Again, I was wrong. It fits perfectly. I loved how much Rossi played with the weather and how this common civilized-vs-savage conflict was so neatly tackled in a dystopian book. And my biggest weakness (male character) was very, very swoon-worthy.
Definitely an excellent story that ALL YA, specially Divergent fans, should read!
on April 21, 2013
I have heard so many good things about this book, and the opportunity to read it as part of a read-along came along and I jumped at it. I have not been so disappointed in a book in a long time. In fact, I really did not want to write such a sad review, but I feel it is fair to chronicle my experience along with the rest of those in the book circle.
First off, the characters were all so very shallow. Friends are killed right in front of them and they are just like `Eh.' Not a normal reaction- in any world. Then, there is the gullible nature of the leading lady Aria. She is led through so much just because others tell her it will take her to her mother, and she blindly believes everyone. As for Perry, well, he's Perry. The oh-so-wrong guy from the wrong side of the tracks. Rugged and tough and seen it all guy swoops in to save poor, fragile, sheltered, Aria. I'm not saying I didn't like Perry, but the stereotype could not have hit the reader over the head any more.
Next, the writing was just not for me. It did not evoke any feeling or draw me into the world at all. In fact, I hate to admit, that about halfway through I began to skim and just read the dialog- and managed to not miss anything along the way. With so much amazing writing and world building within YA right now, there really is no need to squander time on fluff pieces like this. I guess I just like more meat to my story. Something to make a romance have a point, if there must be a romantic entanglement. Something that makes me want more.
Sure, there was romance, as dull and stereotypical as it was. There was adventure, albeit obvious and unexciting. There was a leading lady, who I actually was found myself hoping she may just get lost in the desert. This is one where I think the movie will actually be better. It has to be. Harsh? Perhaps. I really wanted to like this one. I did. But, in the end (and the beginning and middle), I just could not do it.
on February 5, 2012
This is a difficult book to review. I want to start off by saying this is not a bad book. I think this book will appeal to a lot of people, but at the same time will turn others off. I was, for the most part, turned off. I really don't think it is my kind of book, which is strange considering dystopian is my favorite sub-genre. And if I'm really being honest here, I feel a little conned by this being marketed as dystopian. Sci-Fi, yes. Dystopian, no. Maybe post-apocalyptic, but even that is pushing it.
Aria lives in a world where her people live in pods and fear the outside world dubbed The Death Shop due to the cannibals and Aether storms that wreck havoc on the land. Her people spend almost all of their time in virtual reality Realms rarely attempting to live in the Real. One day Aria is exiled from her pod city, Reverie, and embarks on a journey with an outsider named Perry to find her way back into her society.
The premise of Under the Never Sky vaguely reminds me of The Reality Bug because it has the same general idea of people in the future too busy in their virtual reality worlds to come outside and play. So, I was excited to read Under the Never Sky because the possibilities with it are endless and I applaud Rossi for going outside the YA "box" and doing something different. Unfortunately, I don't think that potential was really tapped into in this book. But I'm getting ahead of myself. What I really want to talk about is what I did like first.
I did like the characters. In fact, I liked them all except for Aria. I think Perry was well developed and I felt I could easily sympathize with his situation throughout the novel. Roar, a good friend of Perry's that we meet halfway through the book, was awesome. I loved his humor and I always felt like I enjoyed the scenes best that involved him. Aria fell short for me. I understand she was going through a lot in the story, but I never really felt connected to her. Though, admittingly, this could have to do with the fact that I'm not a fan of third person PoV narratives. Still, I found Aria rather annoying in the beginning. For example, there is one scene in the novel where she and Perry are stopping to rest in a cave and Perry tells her to stay in the cave so he can hunt. Now, Aria has zero survival skills because she has never needed them ever, but what does she do? She wanders on her own in search of berries. Did she stop to think they could be poisonous? NO. How about a wild animal mauling her to death? NO. Or maybe even getting lost? NO. As a result of her little adventure, she ends up getting her and Perry in a serious bind. So, along with survival skills, people living in pods also do not possess common sense either. *sigh* Thankfully, there *is* character growth for her and she did grow on me by the end of the book. I wouldn't call us BFFs, but I no longer had the urge to fling my Kindle across the room.
I also enjoyed how Rossi played with the Outsiders having heightened senses. Perry, in particular, has a heightened sense of smell enabling him to smell emotions. That was pretty cool, but there were a few awkward parts with regards to this special skill. Like, say, knowing when your female companion is on her period. Yikes! Talk about uncomfortable. Other than that, there were times when it felt like he was one *sniff* away from becoming man's best friend. *sniff* Just throw him the darn ball, Aria!
That is pretty much where the "likes" end for me friends.
So, let's cut to the chase and get down to it. Two words: World Building. If you are reading a dystopian novel there are a few things that are kinda, sorta important. We need to know what stuff is, how it works, why the world has come to be where it is, information about how the society is run, ect. You know, basic dystopian elements. That is where this book lacks the most. The reader is flung into the story, head first, without any background information. We don't know what caused Aria's society to live in pods. We know nothing about her society except that they have these realms. We know nothing about the Aether or the Unity. This is the most background information we are given:
"The Aether didn't look like something that could put an end to the world, yet that had nearly happened during the Unity."
And speaking of the Aether, that angered me the most. It is talked about ALL THE TIME, but it is NEVER EXPLAINED. What is an Aether storm? I don't know and neither will you. Unless, of course, you are a mind reader. If you are, please share the secrets of this universe with me! There were so many holes in the story that I just could.not.compute. Throwing around capitalized words does not impress me.
The writing style was another issue for me. I had a lot of trouble getting into the beginning. In fact, I almost wanted to give up, but I was told to stick with it because "the beginning is rough, but it's worth it in the end." Hmm...Ok, yeah. I didn't see it that way. I'd say a little more than the first half is very rough. I found it difficult to keep up with what was going one because not a lot of time is used to describe what was happening. One minute the characters are having a conversation and the next sentence they are walking in the forest. This book could have used better transitioning. It didn't feel "smooth" to me. However, my fellow readers are right. The book is noticeably better during the last half. If only the first half could get it's act together!
All in all, again, this isn't a bad book, but clearly holds the markings of newbie mistakes. I will most likely check out the sequel because I like where Rossi is going with things and who knows? Maybe she will surprise me.
More reviews at Cuddlebuggery Book Blog.
on April 21, 2012
This book had an interesting concept, one that despite its comparisons to "The Hunger Games," which it was nothing like, I found to be original. Veronica Rossi has created two futuristic worlds in this book both showing opposite ways the human race could have evolved. One is a super-high tech civilization where we rely on technology to survive; and the other a primitive civilization where human's senses and instincts have evolved to help us survive. Despite my interest in her concept however I found this book somewhat underdeveloped. Rossi had nice imagery, but it was more descriptive than lyrical and I found myself confused by her explanation of the "smarteye" and just how did it really look, as well as why the Aether is how it is.
This book starts out really slow. Not to say that there isn't action in the beginning, just that it comes with little explanation, then the book gets bogged down with a good amount of background info, and yet still not enough to answer all my questions. It took the plot a long time to form. I feel the first quarter of this book could have been removed completely and the important pieces told to us through flashbacks. I think this would have been far more effective and concise for the reader. I did, however, become far more interested in the story once Aria and Perry reunited and were forced to be allies, but the pent up sexual tension and him "hoisting her against his side" felt too much like a cheesy romance novel at first. I did like their snarky interaction. I liked how they both seemed more human to one another as time went on and for the most part, their relationship developed naturally. It was their relationship that kept me reading.
While I enjoyed their relationship, there were a few plot clichés which really bothered me and I think affected it negatively. Usually I'm able to look past clichés when they're used correctly but there were a few that felt like they were there for no reason. Such as Perry thinking he's cursed because of what happened to his mother or the "rendering" that happens between two people. I felt like there was no purpose for Aria and Perry to "render" to one another, the story would have gone on just the same had they just "realized they liked on another".
Also, I was glad to see some adult themes like the mentioning of sex in the realms, but then when Aria has sex in the real for the first time we don't even get to read about it from her POV. We get a nice and sweet, but short scene that doesn't even bother to tell us if it is "better" in the real or not, even though they had just talked about whether or not it would be over dinner. I think had they not been discussing this pages earlier I would not have minded the brevity of this scene, but their discussion raised questions that were not answered.
Throughout the whole book the plot felt week. The only part that I felt was truly well developed was when Cinder was introduced, there was mystery about him and he moved the storyline alone with the other characters, but his actions ended up being completely predictable in the end when he saved Perry and Aria. One nice surprise was at the end when Vale's true intentions came out. Most of the ending was foreseeable and uninspiring, but I was surprised by what had happened with Vale. In the end this book didn't hold my attention enough to make me want to read more. I still have unanswered questions that I assume would be answered in the next book, but I don't think this one captivated me enough to read on.
on February 18, 2014
Let's face it: with over 700 reviews, mine is hardly needed. Veronica Rossi's "YA Dystopian Trilogy" obviously received a landslide of positive responses. But I'm putting in my "two cents" because of how shocked I was to find that the so called "helpful critical reviews" showed such lousy evaluation skills. *Stop right there! I don't mean people need to agree with me!* I'm just disappointed that high schools and colleges are still churning out people with such sub-par critical thinking and writing skills. It's even more frightening that it's probably the opinions voiced by mature adults as well as teenaged readers. Oy vey!
One person complained that there was only "one tame sex scene". Oh, yeah: that's a good basis for demoting a story's value. Hello! This is YA fiction: most don't even have heavy petting. If you want lots of orgasm laden stories, don't read young adult books like this, (or "Hunger Games" or "Divergent", etc.) because the plots aren't centered around sex.
Another reviewer complained about the futuristic vocabulary: She was totally bewildered by the term "Blood-Lord", used by the outside people. You know, that's the only person everyone is following around and obeying, who's wearing a huge necklace. Oh yeah, and the word "Lord" is so confusing. Pop Quiz: the Outsiders' "Blood Lords" are (a)Tribal Leaders, (b)Tribal blood-letters, or (c) Tribal Rock Stars. This is such a disappointing comment for even a 10 year old to have expressed.
Still others were equally short-sighted: Some found the lead characters (Perry and Aria) to be flawed. Why, in particular? Because their actions and thoughts were inconsistent. In fact, they even seemed to have identity crises. Hello again!
In this book they're 17! On what planet do teenagers have consistent behaviors? (In one day they will act on completely opposite attitudes towards parents! "Drop me off a mile from school...I'm embarrassed to be seen with you" to "My back is itchy: could you scratch it like you used to when I was little?" And that's just in a period of 4 hours). If the writing is inconsistent, and the characters' actions or comments don't add up, then there's reason to complain. But what if the characters in a story act like real-life teenagers do? What if we're supposed to see this fantasy world through the eyes of a younger person, or in the immature names they use for each other? When an author bases her character development on real people (who can all be saints or sinners) then that person is a skilled writer.
As I said in the beginning, with hundreds of ardent admirers giving this series such a high rating, I don't even need to rescue the author's reputation. All in all, Veronica Rossi's first books were outstanding examples of good writing "chops", world building, suspense building, well rounded & interesting characters, etc. Okay, Okay, I'll back down a bit: there are some legitimate problems, in that one particular villain was a predictable, generic sociopath, and the two Stars did at times escape danger a bit too conveniently. People noted things like that, I agree with such comments. What I'm taking issue with is unrealistic expectations as the cause for downgrading a story.
On the whole, I'd like to remind readers, that the beauty of this book - of any book - is that we can enjoy reading about characters who evolve, who can open their minds, who forgive, who re-evaluate themselves, struggle with moral decision making, who intelligently adjust to their situations, but who still make serious mistakes, or are still judgmental, or hold onto annoying qualities (as most humans do). We don't need YA dystopian books with lots of sex, overpowering flippant teenage dialect, or predictable personalities. Sixteen year olds don't learn anything by reading futuristic tales about what's in their own back yards, and adults wouldn't enjoy that much either. I do believe that these books were excellent, and I'd hope that those who disagree at least use logical reasoning skills.
Veronica Rossi has created the refreshing alternative to the typical generic paranormal and dystopian novels hitting the market in a hail storm. We'd be in a sorry state if all of the best of these books were formulaic. When you read a book like this, try to flow with it for a while without expecting it to adhere to a pattern you've enjoyed in the past. For me, it's the stories with a refreshingly new take on the same theme that satisfy the most. It's the authors who know how to create their own unique writing style, and stick with it, who give us a gift. And although nay sayers are part of what makes the world of literature go around, it's a shame some potential reader might turn away from a good read like this because of other narrow readers whose opinions are based on narrow minded expectations. -Ozmatoo
on June 21, 2013
This book is horrible. I can't at all understand why it has such high ratings. I got 45% through this book before I just had to give up, because I didn't want to waste one more second of my life reading this piece of crap.
My biggest complaint about this book is that there is basically no world building. If you're writing a dystopia novel, the most important thing is that it has to make sense. Readers have to be able to quickly and easily understand what is going in your world and why it is the way that it is. Neither of these questions are answered by the time I got halfway through the book, and I was done trying to figure everything out for myself.
Not only is the world not explained, the characters are barely explained either. The author spends so much time telling the really boring story that still hasn't gotten interesting or have anything even remotely romantic happen, that she hasn't even developed her characters besides their name and a couple sentences about a family member or two.
I had absolutely no interest in the main characters because I didn't know who they were or what the heck was happening to them. Even though potentially exciting things were happening in the story, nothing is ever (at least up until the 45% mark) explained, so the book is basically so monotonously confusing that you are bored out of your mind before you even figure out what the hell the plot is.
The dystopian reality and characters had potential, I will admit this. But Veronica Rossi did nothing with either of them, and it was majorly disappointing.
on January 10, 2012
Things I Liked: No spoiler
I really enjoyed the slower relationship build up. I could actually see the development and it didnt just happen all of a sudden. I always enjoy a good dystopean story especially if the author lets us see in our minds eye what the world is like, and this author did a fabulous job and was creative with her ideas of what the world is like. It was well written and had a nice flow and wasnt rushed. I didnt like the lead male Perry at the beginning but I kind of feel like that was the point, so I kind of liked it. It let me grow to like him, and so I feel like I had reason to like him more. It is going to be a TRILOGY, I hate when authors have too many books in a series, they tend to have a lot of fluff. I also feel like the author is writing just to make money.
Things I didnt like:
I have to wait a year for book 2. I dont know how it is for others, but when I have to wait in between books, by excitement diminishes and it takes a while to get back into a book. Thats why I normally read completed series and no open ones. I thought this was a stand alone book at first.