Saturday, February 4, 2012

Under the Never Sky

Author: Veronica Rossi
Publisher: Harper
Released: January 2012
Genre: YA Dystopian
Series: Yes, trilogy
Author's Blog:
Source: Library
Challenge: YA Debut Author, Dystopia

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 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.
I couldn't help but compare this book to the other dystopian books I've been reading lately - books like Delirium and Crossed/Matched,  as well as the older book The Line. I noticed that the thing these books have in common is that there's an insular, protected realm, and then the "outside" where all the rules and regulations of the new society don't operate.

The difference between this book and the others is that here, the new society is not based on a totalitarian government, with oppressive rules in the guise of ensuring safety for all its inhabitants. Instead, what Under the Never Sky explores is the choice between complete safety at the expense of feeling anything real, or the chance to feel real pleasure and pain at the expense of comfort and certainty. I think Veronica deals with the issue brilliantly. Having the Outsiders have heightened senses is an added bonus to it! The way Aria discovers real feeling, both good and bad, and the way she keeps comparing things to the way they are in the Realms, really does raise questions about which one is better. And to be quite honest, I'm not sure that's answered in this first book.

But part of the reason I think it's not answered is that I feel like Veronica lost a bit of the focus at the end of the book. All along, seeing Aria's and Perry's feelings, both for each other and separate from each other, made me think about this concept. But the way the book ends and sets itself up for the sequel let me down, as it turned from a philosophical question to simply a - good - action and adventure story. I felt like the last bit was tacked on only to give momentum for continuing the story in the second book.

I also thought that we didn't get to see enough of Aria's world before she was taken away from it. I didn't understand a lot of the things about the way the Pod worked, and while it didn't actually detract from the story, it did leave me with a niggling feeling of "but why? and how?"

Leaving that aside, I want to say that I thoroughly enjoyed watching Perry and Aria's relationship unfold. They're both such distinct characters, so different from each other but so much the same at the same time, that it was really interesting to see them spar, wary of each other at first and then slowly growing to like each other while resisting it with all they have!

So my opinion of the book on the whole: The beginning and the end are a throwaway for me. The middle swept me up in the wave of the story and kept me enthralled. I'm definitely going to look out for the second book because I do want to spend more time with Aria and Perry!

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