Review: Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

November 6, 2013

Title: Under The Never Sky (Under The Never Sky #1)
Author: Veronica Rossi
Publication date: January 3, 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: YA, Post Apocalyptic, Dystopian
Amazon | Goodreads
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.
Since Into The Still Blue, the last book in the Under The Never Sky trilogy is coming out soon (January 28, 2014), I'm re-reading the previous books to brush up my memory and get ready for the finish. One thing I've noticed in the rare books that I re-read is that the second time around, it doesn't seem as perfect as it did the first time. Somehow, there's almost always something that catches my attention and spoils the awesome-ness of the book that I got the first time.

But you know what? It wasn't so with Under The Never Sky. I went into it apprehensive that I'd find some fault in it, but didn't fin a single one. I've always been a little particular with my books, and I like to think that in the time that has passed since I first read Under The Never Sky my reading has become more critical and perceptive. But inspite of all that, I still love Under The Never Sky! Nothing has changed. In fact, it's gotten even better!

Aria lives in a world that's 'better than real'. Select humans (who were chosen arbitrarily) live in pods, huge dome like structures that house large numbers of people. Dwellers spend all of their time in virtual worlds of their making, are genetically engineered so that their bodies have done away with unnecessary physical changes like wrinkles and harmful diseases (so they live long lives), and every person is created in a lab with carefully selected genes. It comes as no big surprise that the Realms' slogan is 'Better Than Real'. Aria & her friends commit a careless mistake in one of the Realms, and only Aria and another boy, Soren, escape unscathed. Soren, being Consul Hess's son is spared any punishment, but Aria is thrown out of the realms and left to die in the desert that is called the Death Shop. But they're aren't counting on Perry, who needs Ari's help to get to his nephew Talon, whom the dwellers have kidnapped.

Wow! That certainly sounds fast paced, doesn't it? And it is! There's never a dull moment, with Perry and Aria constantly fighting against hurdles and dangers that they encounter on their journey. It's a third person narrative, but with the POVs switching between Aria and Perry, which is something we don't see often nowadays, and I really enjoyed the change.

Rossi's characters are so real, you feel like you can just reach out and touch them. Both Aria & Perry are wonderful characters who are both vulnerable and strong at the same time. They know they're weaknesses and fears, and have moments in which they give in to it (dont we all?), but they always get back up and forge ahead.

With all the different dystopian and post apocalyptic novels flooding the market these days, it's hard to stay stand out from the crowd. But Under The Never Sky manages to do so easily. It different from most books in its genre in that there's no clearly defined enemy. Yes, there is a slightly totalitarian system present, but it's hold extends only to the Dwellers, and not the Outsiders. There are clashes between the two groups, but it's mostly in a bid to protect borders, and only sometimes with a plan to initiate attack. Most of the enmity that is between the Dwellers and the Outsiders comes from legends (stories) and covert experiments that are carried out on Dwellers.

But if you're looking for a central enemy-like figure here, it's the Aether. Which brings me to the one problem I had with Under The Never Sky. There's hardly any back story. All we know about the Aether is that they are streams of electrified energy that cause violent storms, bringing down fire and flattening any place they strike. But why are they there? How did they form? There's nothing to put it all in context. How did humans divide into Dwellers and Outsiders, one of them highly advanced technologically, while the other has reverted to almost primitive living? Something obviously happened, and it has to do with the Aether, but we dont know what exactly that is, and that's what drove me crazy for awhile. But actually, it didn't bother me as much as I thought it would, considering how important back stories are for me. Why? Well, because of the  other completely awesome stuff in Under The Never Sky that overshadows its slight mistakes.

The romance in Under The Never Sky is handled so beautifully, even if the rest of the book was crap (which it is not), I would so love Veronica Rossi simply for that alone. This is no story of insta-love or opposites attract or love at first sight. No, it the best kind ever: falling in love with a person simply because of the person themselves, after you come to know them for a reasonable amount of time, and not because 'she's sweet' or 'he's hot'. It's slow and steady, moving over them gradually, so that when they do fall completely, there's no mental conflict or indecision in either of their parts. The idea of being rendered to someone, so that their happiness truly is your happiness, seems like love on a whole different level, so elemental. After reading countless books in which either the guy or the girl is just not sure and there are those inevitable conflicts (both internal and external), this felt genuine and moving.

Rossi's writing style is different in that she doesn't give us everything (it's possible it was this that led to less of a back story), not all the information. I dont mean to say that she leaves gaps gaping. Only that not everything is spelled out to the reader. It's all in there, but it's up to us to put it together, and add in a bit of our imagination too in the process. It's almost like the reader's active participation is necessary for the story to move ahead, and I love that about Under The Never Sky, how it seems to pull us into the story, play a part too.

Want another reason to read this? How about this - there's no cliffhanger. Oh yeah, that's right! I'm so fed up with the cliffhanger ending in most series books nowadays, and I hate them. In Under The Never Sky, there's no hanging of any kind happening. Everything's and tied up nicely, leaving us happy and satisfied. If you ask me, I'd rather be satisfied with a book and go back for the sequel, that be left hanging and feel like I have to read the sequel just to know what happens next.

Honestly, with almost everything in this book being so perfect, if I hadn't seen on Goodreads that this is Rossi's debut novel, I wouldn't have believed it. It's that brilliant! And a must read, in my opinion (and you know I hardly ever say that).

Bottomline: Under The Never Sky delivers all that it promises and more. A fast paced post-apocalyptic/dystopian novel, Under the Never Sky has all the ingredients to make it a work of brilliance, which it so is.

Perpetual Page Turner: ...I loved that part of this novel was more science fiction-y than most of the dystopian reads I’ve encountered but there was still that wild, badlands feel with the “outside” world where Perry lived that seemed more like a post-apocalyptic world...

Oh, Chrys!: ...Though the world building was not exemplary, it sure left me pondering our own future... while this is not a good example of a dystopian, it is certainly an enjoyable, thought-provoking read...

Books of Amber: ...I highly recommend this to people who enjoy dystopias, and to those who like a smidge of science fiction...

Holding Quote:
The funny thing about being called a Savage was that it made him want to act like one. 
Note: This made me think about how names and roles you're given shape you behaviour. Kind of like the Stanford Prison experiment.

"People can be cruelest to those they love." - Perry

She learned that it was the loveliest thing to be kissed for no reason, even while chewing food. It brightened the woods, and the never sky, and everything.

"Perry? Say something. I want to hear your voice again." - Aria


  1. Fahima, I bought this book during a sale and have yet to read it. I love dystopian novels and I keep putting this off for some reason...but your review screams read me, refreshing, and engaging. Hmm, maybe I could get these read before the final book releases. Awesome review :)

    1. It is, all of it! If you love dystopians, then this one is right up your lane, thought it isn't the usual dystopian read with a totalitarian system or anything.

      Oh, yes! Do that! The last book especially, is awesometastic! You'll love it :D

  2. I look forward to the rest of the books in the series and seeing where the next adventure will take Perry and Aria as they search for a better life.
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