Much like all things paranormal a few years ago, or my obsession with Greek mythology last year, Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic societies are very quickly becoming my new favorite schtick. I’ve always adored a good zombie “end of the world” book, (that’s never going to change) but this up and coming genre, (unlike my brain slushy loving friends) goes past the obvious, (the world has gone to shit) and focuses on something else entirely…the struggle to accept reality in a harsh environment.
The way in which civilization (as we currently know it) took a bullet between the eyes is (more often than not) insignificant. We are told, (of course) of it’s ultimate demise and how we suddenly found ourselves forced to live in trees, or pods like fish in an aquarium, but those details only act as adjectives for the struggling characters forced to live in these broken down worlds.
So why is it exactly that I find these books so fascinating? Well…besides the very blatant “entertainment” value they all seem to possess, I can’t help but wonder if we all, (somewhere deep down inside) would be able to survive. Make it to the end of the book. Discover our ability to take our future into our own hands, and ultimately question the things that always seem to be a little “too easy.”
In Veronica Rossi’s “Under The Never Sky” all of these questions are presented in one way or another, and Aria and Perry’s reactions to these unexpected circumstances is what makes this book in particular so freaking good.
“Since she’d been on the outside, she’d survived an Aether storm, she’d had a knife held to her throat, and she’d seen men murdered. This was worse. 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, electrified 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.”
Ok, so I pretty much know what your first question is going to be so let’s just get that out of the way first.
Why…if this book was soooooo good…did you only give it a 4?
Quite honestly…that is the easiest part of this book to explain. The problem (or at least for the author) with Dystopian or Post-Apocalyptic literature is that they are responsible for creating a new world or new government. If their book is set in the future (as is Under The Never Sky) they are also saddled with inventing new technology. This can be a great thing, or this can be the thing that ultimately kills a book. In this case…Rossi threw out so many new terms, (or at the very least…words we already know used in a new manner) that it made the reading process a little uncomfortable. In some instances, the terms (for example: Realms) were explained right away so we got a very clear picture of what was going on, while others (Aether storms) were mentioned flippantly, as if we were supposed to already know it’s meaning. Because of this…the first 50 pages felt mechanical. And…to prove my point, I actually STOPPED reading this book for almost 2 weeks before I picked it up and gave it another shot.
Thankfully I DID give it another shot, because AT that 50 page mark…things got REALLY good! We were introduced to the characters properly. We finally started to see the plot (which is -wait for the cliche- made of awesome) and an emotional connection was finally made. After this… I found the whole thing entirely too engrossing to put down and read the rest of the book in 1 sitting.
As for the characters… let’s start with Aria. She is delusional, but determined. In the interest of not giving away the plot I’ll refrain from gobs of details, but the moment in which she finds herself alone is the point when she realizes life is not always fair. And with that…a new character is born. She talks too much, she has no idea where she is or how the world works, but she tries…and that makes her loveable.
As for Perry he is the boy girls love to read about. He is angry all of the time. He is snappy, arrogant, and 100% biased. But beneath that rough exterior (that just happens to be covered in a really hot body) he has a heart of gold. He does things that (despite his inner voice telling him that it’s a bad idea) he does anyway…to save face, only later to feel the horrible gut wrenching remorse. Which…if you are anything like me will make your chest tighten and your eyes start watering.
So what about the actual plot…once it got past it’s awkward start? It was an action packed, beauty filled, eye opening excursion that I’d be happy to experience again. And…while the book ended abruptly, it didn’t end at a cliffhanger, just a mild hill with hints of hope to tide you over until it’s sequel, “Through The Ever Night” comes out in 2013.
Happy reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: cannibals eat you…it’s probably a good idea not to piss them off!
Click image for additional details
Veronica Rossi discusses writing Under The Never Sky