Series: Under the Never Sky #1
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.
3 Drink Me Potions
Let me be honest upfront. I started this book when it first came out and only now decided to finish it. And let me tell you, the beginning is downright confusing.
Aria and Perry are our two alternating protagonists. Don’t get me wrong, they both are very interesting people to follow along. But as you’ll see, some terminology and background on this strange world is kind of hard to understand at first (because Rossi doesn’t explicitly tell you in a straightforward manner), and may not even be explained at all by the end of the novel.
First up, Aria gets punished and left to die in the “Outside” after a prank goes wrong. What is this “Outside”, you ask? Uh, well her people, the Dwellers, have lived in this dome-like building for over 3 centuries and have never come out of it due to the terrible atmosphere on Earth. Wouldn’t they get bored? Apparently not when you have tech that transports you to this virtual reality known as the Realms. They spend all their time there doing whatever the heck you can possibly imagine. So Aria I had to admire for her guts in handling banishment like that. ‘Cause honestly, I don’t think most spoiled kids who’s never walked farther than their one building would be able to survive a freak storm.
And that brings me to explain what the heck is wrong with the Earth. In this world setting, there are strange storms that shoot out funnels of electricity or something from the sky. These currents of electricity roam in clouds above the Earth and occasionally touch down to burn up the land beneath it. This was known as Aether, a word taken from ancient times that represented a 5th element (besides earth, air, water and fire) they couldn’t quite describe. Now, HOW does this thing really work or where it came from? That, my friend, I cannot answer for you as of right now. So you see? Confusing.
BUT that’s not all. There are people like Perry, the Outsiders, who weren’t as fortunate to be trapped – I mean, to live – in the Pods, aka the dome. (See, the terminology is confusing in itself? Can’t it just be referred as the Dome? Much simpler?) Anyway, I digress. Apparently, due to living in such harsh weather conditions, these storms have produced mutations in the people where they now have enhanced Senses. That’s right. Senses with a capital S.
ROSSI DIDN’T EXPLAIN IT VERY WELL AT FIRST. So if you were like me, scratching my head at what the heck was going on, well here’s the pointers. People can have enhanced sight (Seers), hearing (Audiles) or Smell (Scires). Rarely, they can have two Senses, like Perry. So I guess he’s an anomaly – I mean, special? Lucky us. And boy are these people clique-ish. They hang with people of similar Senses, and even marry them in order to maintain “pure bloodlines”. ‘Cause apparently, your offspring or whatever will be cursed if you try to mate with some other Sense. Or, gasp, someone who’s Unmarked (aka has no Sense).
So does this mean Perry won’t even look at Aria?
The romance wasn’t really hitting it for me for a long while. I liked the way Aria and Perry interacted. Their tension at being Dweller vs. Outsider was hilarious and entertaining. Perry, being a Scire, hated her scent for a long time, to the point he had to stay upwind of her so he wouldn’t have to smell her. So romantic, right? Don’t worry, you romance lovers. It doesn’t stay awful forever, but I did wish the transition from “You smell bad and I see you as a Dweller” to “You have a heavenly scent and I see you as a girl” was a little more smooth. It felt a little rushed/choppy. Like, one instant Perry barely tolerated her, and the next, he was starting to notice everything.
Okay, so as it stands here, it seems this review is going pretty down south. But hey, my rating isn’t so bad. What’s with that?
There IS redemption. Under the Never Sky may have been as confusing as crap for like the first half of the book, but you eventually get immersed into the world (or at least, I hope so if you can last that long).
How was it redeemed?
He’s Perry’s bestie and I love him dearly. He becomes a really good friend to Aria as well, and he definitely added some comic relief with his fun and charming self in this dark world of cannibalism, freak storms and fights-to-the-death. And no, he’s never portrayed as a potential love interest for Aria (thank God) as his heart is already taken by some other lovely girl…who actually never appears in this novel.
2. Fights-to-the-death & Archaic rituals
Under the Never Sky seems to have built an Outside world where people survive in tribes or as lonely lost people who don’t belong anywhere (and probably end up dying quickly). Perry’s brother is a tribe leader, known as the Blood Lord. Gruesome sounding already, isn’t it? Well, to usurp present Blood Lord, gotta have those fights-to-the-death or else surrender to me kinda fights. People give oaths to follow a leader, and other tribes can try to attack and raid each other to expand their followers and/or land. It’s starting to sound like we’re back in the old ages. It was occasionally amusing to see how a futuristic setting (come on, they have tech that makes virtual EVERYTHING) also draws such huge similarities to how ancient civilizations lived.
I guess being confused does have ONE good thing. Means that I’ve never read anything quite like it that upon first glance, I already understood what the author’s ideas were. Well done, Rossi.
Anyway, this novel had its up and downs, but by the end, I was hooked onto the overall plot and setting. This wasn’t the strongest first book in a trilogy, as that’s where you really want to draw in readers, but if you can last a bit of confusion until it reaches the exciting, action parts, I’d say you’re good to go with the series.
Under the Never Sky was not the strongest contender for the first book in a trilogy, nor an easy book to initially understand. Random terminology in a dystopian setting that wasn’t explained all too clearly can cause a lot of confusion. However, with help of reviews (like this one!), confusion can be easily erased to bring forth an interesting plot following two protagonists who are courageous, determined and willing to sacrifice everything for someone they love. The romance could use a bit of umph, but I swear, you’ll be hooked in with Perry and Aria’s adventures as I have by the end.