Veronica Rossi is a master world-builder, creating not one world, but two completely different worlds.
When Aether storms devastated the world, people basically split into two groups. One group confined themselves into “Pods”–the enclosed cities, living their lives through virtual reality. Others were on the outside, and became almost primitive, forming tribes and fighting for their lives.
For the first 50 pages or so of this book I was fully prepared to give up on it. I was beyond confused at the new world we are dropped into with very little explanation and didn’t have a clue what was going on. But then it all clicked into place and from then on I was hooked.
Told in a switching third person narrative by both Aria and Perry, Veronica Rossi ensures we really get to know both of these characters very well. The switches between the POVs always happen when it is the most advantageous, no repetitiveness, no excessive navel-gazing.
Especially for someone like me, Under the Never Sky is more of an adventure story, rather than romance.
I was a big fan of the fact that Rossi’s characters had very strong and clear motivations, and that she didn’t throw in extraneous situations just for the sake of danger. Also, the characters’ abilities to survive in such a dangerous landscape seemed plausible. I love how once a relationship was formed, the characters did not let that take away from their goals and stray from their paths.
I didn’t like Aria to begin with, but throughout the book she develops into a strong heroine. There isn’t a pivotal moment where this happens; she doesn’t suddenly turn from protected weakling to kick-ass. Aria started out completely helpless in a foreign, dangerous place, and I enjoyed watching her inner strength develop into outward capability, also. It’s actually a quiet and believable progression.
Perry, on the other hand, was fascinating from the start. He knew what he wanted, had a purpose for his life decided before the novel even started and didn’t magically change it to conform with the ideals of those he met along the course of the novel,
was hot, and realistic. If I’m ever stuck in a post-apocalyptic world, he’s the guy I want with me.
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.
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.
As with Aria’s development, Rossi takes a slow approach to the romance in this book. And wow, did I get fully caught up with it. There’s no instant attraction here, the pair connect through need rather than want and the chemistry between the pair is as electrifying as the aether that constantly threatens them. The love story line is strong, but the romance is slow-burning, not angsty, not overwhelming. The priorities are straight here–there are more important things in the characters’ lives than a few days-long romantic relationships, things like families and loyalties. It didn’t feel rushed or instant, and I liked Aria and Perry enough already to want them to be together.
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?
Honestly, I simply got lost with it, but for the sake of progression, I just accepted the fact that they were dangerous and moved on, and let it unsaid until after I finished the novel. I’m not really sure if I missed the explanation or it’s just not there. I also didn’t get how Aria’s world has come to that point where there are people living “inside” and people leaving “outside” while I was reading it.
The worlds are built great in general, the description, the realistic feel of it,
the imagery, but it’s lacking a reasoning behind it, an explanation of it. Simply something to keep in mind while reading it, and for Rossi to keep in mind for the sequel.
Despite the slow start, Under The Never Sky turned into a fast paced, thrilling ride which had me hooked. It’s tough, bloody and action packed at times with some heart stopping moments that kept me turning pages as fast as I could. Although I was baffled with the world to begin with, Rossi captures it so well that once you get it, it becomes believable, detailed and developed, so much so that while reading it I felt I was actually there. I would like to know what happened to make the world how it is in Under the Never Sky, as this isn’t covered. Maybe that will come in following books in this series, which judging by the ending of this one promise to be every bit as good. If you like your dystopia worlds bleak and ruthless with an action packed and fast paced plot, then I recommend Under The Never Sky.