Rossi, Veronica. Under the Never Sky (January 3, 2012). 384 Pages. HarperCollins. $9.99
Aria is a teenager in the enclosed city of Reverie. Like all Dwellers, she spends her time with friends in virtual environments, called Realms, accessed through an eyepiece called a Smarteye. Aria enjoys the Realms and the easy life in Reverie. When she is forced out of the pod for a crime she did not commit, she believes her death is imminent. The outside world is known as The Death Shop, with danger in every direction.
As an Outsider, Perry has always known hunger, vicious predators, and violent energy storms from the swirling electrified atmosphere called the Aether. A bit of an outcast even among his hunting tribe, Perry withstands these daily tests with his exceptional abilities, as he is gifted with powerful senses that enable him to scent danger, food and even human emotions.
They come together reluctantly, for Aria must depend on Perry, whom she considers a barbarian, to help her get back to Reverie, while Perry needs Aria to help unravel the mystery of his beloved nephew’s abduction by the Dwellers. Together they embark on a journey challenged as much by their prejudices as by encounters with cannibals and wolves. But to their surprise, Aria and Perry forge an unlikely love – one that will forever change the fate of all who live UNDER THE NEVER SKY.
They called the world beyond the walls of the Pod “the Death Shop.” A million ways to die out there. Aria never thought she’d get so close.
She bit her lip as she stared at the heavy steel door in front of her. A display screen read AGRICULTURE 6–NO ENTRY in flashing red letters.
Ag 6 was just a service dome, Aria told herself. Dozens of domes supplied Reverie with food, water, oxygen– all the things an enclosed city needed. Ag 6 had been damaged in a recent storm, but supposedly the damage was minor. Supposedly.
First, a comment on covers. There are two distinct covers; there is the blue cover, pictured above, and then there is the pink cover, here. They’re distinctly different, and both say different things about the book. While the blue cover puts the emphasis on Aria, showing her solo, striding out of a colorful but crazy background, the pink cover puts emphasis on her relationship with Perry. I love them both, and while they both suit the book, I’m glad that my copy went with the blue cover. It says better things about Aria’s strength. (On an aside, do you have opinions on the covers? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments.)
I wish I hadn’t read quite as much as I had about it before I began reading the book, though. Because I’d read the synopsis, and a few reviews, I spent the entire beginning of the book counting down until Aria got tossed out into the “Death Shop” and ran into Perry. Still, even though I was waiting for that to happen, I found that I enjoyed the in between. It’s a really interesting world, where privileged people live within these giant dome-cities, spending most of their time inside virtual “Realms” where they can experience things far beyond the limitations of reality. Human interaction is incredibly limited, instead of speaking face-to-face, people interact within the Realms.
There are a lot of things about this book which I loved, and I could gush about all of them, but it would end up fairly spoiler-tastic. I love the way Aria and Perry grow, individually, and as a team. I love the world they live in– though I’d never want to live there– and how interesting the idea of the Aether storms and tribal society are. I found myself wondering what would come next, how things would move forward, what was going to happen, and how it would end.
There’s clearly more to come, as the novel is left wide open for a sequel– I believe I’ve said in the past that it’s a bittersweet thing for me; I always want to know more, but I hate waiting, and worry they’ll ruin everything the first book built. There’s a fine line between drawing out a series because there’s more story to tell, and drawing it out for profit, and I’ll be interested to see how this story may continue.
The short version would be that I loved it. I thought it was a great dystopian novel, with strong characters, a fascinating world, and a dramatic plot. Nothing jumped out at me as annoying, or unbelievable, or ridiculous. It’s earned a very solid 5/5 and a strong recommendation that you read it. (If you do, be sure to tell me what you think!)