Thursday, June 7, 2012

Review: Under the Never Sky

by Veronica Rossi
Series: Under the Never Sky #1
Hardcover, US, 376 pages
Published January 3rd 2012 by HarperCollins
Age Recommendation: Young Adult

Summary (from 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.

When I started Under the Never Sky, it was a struggle merely to continue reading. I was easily bored and uninvolved in the story. As the book progressed, however, I began to see what made the book so special: the development of both of the main characters.

Before I read Under the Never Sky, I had conflicting expectations. On the one hand, I had read very good reviews of it, (an especially memorable review was by Enna at Squeaky Books); on the other hand, the summary didn't seem especially original or intriguing. Well, my expectations were false on both counts.

Throughout the book, the plot was not what captured my attention. The characters were obviously invested in the tension and conflict of the situations, and sometimes even running for their lives, but I as a reader felt detached from the imminent danger that seemed to hang over much of the book.

However, as the story went on, and I forced myself to keep picking it back up every day, I slowly began to admire the character creation - their interactions, development, realism - was fantastic. It kind of crept up on me, liking these characters and liking this story. By the end, I still didn't care much about what was happening in terms of plot (yes, it was interesting, but I could take it or leave it) but I was fully invested in the characters. The two-POV narration really worked for this story, and it was never difficult to distinguish the narrators.

Another aspect I found lacking was the explanation of the world Aria and Perry lived in. The descriptions were great when they were describing a scene or landscape, but I had little to no idea how the society worked, how they got to that point, what daily life was like both inside and outside the domes – I understood the characters, but not the world around them.

Yet the thing is, I didn't even notice the lack in world-building, or even my lack of interest in the plot, until after I'd finished. While I was reading, I was fully engrossed in these characters. The reader gets to see these characters shed their outer shallowness and become fully realized.

And the love story - my gosh. This is the very opposite of insta-love. It takes around 300 pages for Aria and Perry to fall in love, but every page of waiting is worth it. The reader gets to see the slow unfolding and realness to the characters relationship - not only in a falling-in-love way, but through their alliance, their friendship, and eventually, their bond.

Overall Thoughts: Some elements of Under the Never Sky bothered me, but ultimately the excellent character creation and development led me to really enjoy the story. I look forward to seeing where Veronica Rossi takes it next.


Andrea @ Cozy Up said...

That's really interesting that you didn't really notice the lack of world-building or the plot not being the greatest. It's a great way for an author to draw you in. I really love character development in books, but I feel that I still need some plot. Great review, glad you enjoyed it despite your difficulties.

Pica said...

Thanks, Andrea. There was plenty of plot- it just wasn't as interesting to me as the characters. I'd love to know your thoughts on Under the Never Sky if you end up reading it.


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