Image Posted on Updated on
Series: Under the Never Sky #1
Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
WORLDS KEPT THEM APART.
DESTINY BROUGHT THEM TOGETHER.
Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she’s never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.
Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He’s searching for someone too. He’s also wild – a savage – but might be her best hope at staying alive.
If they can survive, they are each other’s best hope for finding answers.
This is gonna be a difficult review to write. I know because I had to give myself a few days after I finished it to really know what I thought about it.
So Under the Never Sky is one of the first books I discovered through Goodreads. It was also, I think, my introduction to the takeoff in dystopia since The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins). And, I’ll admit, by the time I got around to it, I’d been so jaded by the young adult genre that I was just praying for something bearable. Not to mention, my last read was Richard Calder, and his style was so polar-opposite Rossi’s that the narrative left me in an uncomfortable shock, much like switching from scalding hot water to ice-cold in a millisecond.
I’ll be honest. I hated it. At first.
The text was spaced too far apart, the breaks between lines as well. The sentences were short and choppy. The writing was somewhat descriptive but only just. Barely imaginative enough to get me to understand the scene. It’s almost like Rossi has no concept of subtlety, like she’s a shitty writer or something. And to top it off, all these capitalized words kept flying at me left and right, and I knew for the most part what to make of them, but it annoyed the ever-lovin’ shit outta me; the non-capitalized terms just looked like they were used strangely. I mean—Pod, Smarteye, render, Aether, Sense, Scire, Mark, Consul, Panop, (a numbered) Gen—as a means of description (age? demeanor?), Savage/Outsider, Dweller/Mole, Death Shop (excuse me while I roll my eyes), Audible, Guardians, Reverie, the Unity…
Yeah, it was faux worldbuilding as its cheapest.
So here I am, trudging along this seemingly frivolous story (and it’s so bad that at some points I just put the thing down altogether and watch the equally insipid True Blood—even both Sherlock Holmes movies and Wild Wild West—or I skim… lots) when BAM! Almost exactly halfway through, things get really interesting. And then super awesome. And then fearless. And then the end!
First, I’d like to acknowledge the lack of my two greatest pet peeves ever (not just in YA but any genre, any story, any character): (1) insta-love and (2) a love triangle. Aria and Perry’s attraction progressed slowly, naturally, and I all the more savored the explosion when it finally did happen for it.
And, speaking of explosion, boy did it ever! It made me feel like a teenager again, watching Aria and Perry fall for each other and not play silly games about it. And then they had sex. Take a minute to absorb that if you must. (I know I did.) Yes, a consummated relationship between two consenting (young) adults transpired here! Uwaa! :D All too easily, Rossi could’ve written the pair like insipid children as some authors tend to—like they shun the idea of sex or disregard a possible relationship that’s doomed from the start. Both Perry and Aria knew full well the transience of their being together and accepted it like full-grown adults without sulking every time a reminder was brought up of their inevitable split. Case in point:
She’d survived the outside. She’d survived the Aether and cannibals and wolves. She knew how to love now, and how to let go. Whatever came next, she would survive it, too.
Amen, Amen! For someone who got herself into such an irreversible situation, very nearly TSTL-style, in the beginning, Aria held herself so, so well. I hope there’s more of that brave, strong girl in Through the Ever Night. Lord knows the literary world needs more like her these days.
And Perry. Peregrine. I have such a difficult time pronouncing Peregrine that, despite the fact that I cannot stand the name Perry, I was truly thankful for the nickname. And his presence. It’s always a good sign when you care about both the male and female counterparts involved. And their own individual stories. Not just Perry and Aria, either. Rose, Brooke, Vale, Talon, Roar, Marron… I cared about all of them, in the end, when I never thought I would. Because, honestly, for the first half, I had a lot of thoughts along the line of, “I DON’T GIVES A FUUUUUUCK.”
Then Rossi sneak attacked me when I realized, I did. I really and truly did.
[ SPOILER » Now let’s discuss the end. I cannot stand when one party of a relationship I enjoy seeing be together is forced to betray the other. For any reason. To save society as you know it, included. I understand Aria’s cause. I even support it. I just hate to see it happen. And I hope down to my very bones that Aria and Perry make it through this together. As they have before. ]
I mean, I found myself imitating their facial expression, vocalizing their dialogue with all its cracks and tears and smiles and laughs, disregarding everything except for what was going on in their world, with them. I was hooked.
All in all, Under the Never Sky was not what I was expecting, and in all the best ways possible. It has singlehandedly restored (some of) my faith in new authors and the genre.
✩✩✩ 3.5 stars. I really, really, really liked it. Actually, I flat-out loved it. My heart tells me FOUR STARS RIGHT NOW, HELL FIVE IF YOU’RE FEELIN’ NICE. But I can’t surrender that last 1.5 star because the first half was so unbearable. In fact, I’d prolly have given it 5 stars if not for the dull, dragging first half. However, the lasting impression I was left with was one of needing more. So here’s to high hopes for Through the Ever Night.
I had planned to start reading Scar Night as soon as I finished with Under the Never Sky, but—after that!—I simply could not. Not even the next day did I find myself willing to relinquish hope that whenever I opened the book, there Aria and Perry would be, being awesome, being together and being awesome together.
Oh, and Perry’s lovely violets? It was really sick reading about him sniffing Aria’s menstrual blood and scenting violets, but as the same time it was sick enough to get me to like it. That earns Under the Never Sky a default position on my “slimy yet satisfying” shelf at Goodreads. ;] Strange, yes, but really fucking awesome. That plus the fact that Aria and Perry actually had sex still prods me to create another shelf based solely off those facts, called “authors with balls.” I shall consider the prospect further lest it be the only contender for the title.