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This review is from: Under the Never Sky (Hardcover)
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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.
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Initial post: Feb 23, 2012 7:39:11 AM PST
Thanks for such a comprehensive review. I was drawn in by the cover and title but decided to give it a try after reading your review. I also loved it! I had a hard time picturing the Aether in my mind as well but the way she describes it as floating above the clouds made it form in my mind as something similar to heat lightening.
Posted on May 17, 2012 2:52:14 PM PDT
Also picked it up after your review, i think the blood red road comparison is very accurate. Thanks for the spoiler free info it was worth the read. If you like romantic fantasy you might like this novella- Damon: The End
Posted on Dec 12, 2012 2:32:23 PM PST
words on pages says:
Thank you for this review. I think yours was the reason I decided to take a chance on Under The Never Sky. At first I was worried it would be too YA, but with the way you reviewed it and described the investment the author put in the characters' development and indiviual personalities, it encouraged me to give it a chance. I completely agree with all of the positive points you make and also this comment in particular--
"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."
That was honestly the only thing that made me consider giving the book three stars, because I didn't like the amount of focus on the love story. I always prefer a much more understated romance i.e. Katniss and Peeta in THG, but I still had to give the book 4 stars because of her world building and detailed futuristic culture.
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