Warning to all humans.
This review is packed with spoilers. Completely littered.
Under the Never Sky was a book that I put off reading for as long as I could. I had it on my phone, and as a result, it lacked a blurb. So obviously I was going to have to plunge into this completely blindfolded (this is why I prefer real books).
The first chapter started off in an artful manner. Veronica Rossi (who I kept confusing with Veronica Roth, but I am now pretty sure they are not the same human) dropped us right in the middle of an action about to surge with tragedy. You knew it hung with doom because she opened with it. There was no escaping what the humans were about to do, because they were all so terrified. This in itself was premise enough for me to carry on reading.
The majority of humans who wrote reviews on this book complained that it was too slow and took ages to get into. I didn’t find that this was the case, although I can see how people would think it was, because the constant switch between the perspectives of the two main characters made the general plot seem slowed down, although the switches carried on with the plot more than anything!
The world Rossi has created is a mixture of sci-fi and fantasy, and manages to escape the boring monotonous passages of description, whilst keeping just enough imagery in there to create vivid pictures of what her wonderful world looks like. She has the uncanny ability of folding in her portrayal of the world Aria and Perry live in, with her plotline. It really felt as though I was there, looking at all the scenery flashing before me, as the plot thickened.
Rossi’s style was average, if anything. It will not do to compare her style with other writers, namely because each writer has their own unique style, but I did feel as though her writing wasn’t captivating enough, as the story went on, for me to give it five stars. I rated it 3 stars because it was quite a unique story, and unlike most fantasy/sci-fi these days, it was not predictable. I did feel as though lots of things were fobbed off, however.
What bothered me about the book was the lack of actual answers. Rossi didn’t expand on anything she said, for example she described the Aether (brilliant invention, by the way), but she never went into full depth about what exactly the aether was and how it came about, and whether or not it was always there. The concept that it might have been a phenomenon brought about by the latest changes in human living standards seems to be very plausible given that the aether intensifies when it comes near to things made by the Dwellers, such as the suit Aria wore when she was dumped in the Death Shop. Another example is the history of how these ‘Dwellings’ in ‘Pods’ came about. There is frequent talk of a ‘unity’ but nothing else, and it is all very confusing. However there are two other sequels to this story so perhaps this is something Rossi plans on explaining further. At least, this is what I am hoping!
I did like how the lack of answers did not make the book particularly hard to read. I feel as though this was because the plot was closely related to the personal struggles of the characters, and this relates into my previous point. Given that the story is told from the perspectives of two very different people, it would stand to reason that they wouldn’t go into depth about the whole history of their world. It makes sense that they wouldn’t understand much about what had happened to years before to separate their worlds. They were two outcasts, from entirely different lives, cast together and it made sense that their alliance would give them more difficult, first hand problems to deal with, such as their immediate survival, and their adaptations to each other’s very different personalities and ways of thought. I think Rossi did a great job analysing these differences.
Her characters were delightfully well-rounded, which is something that can only be said about a very small number of sci-fi/fantasy novels out there. Most of them focus too deeply on world/plot building and leave out the important characterisation that is vital for bringing about a compelling novel.
Despite this, however, I did feel as though there was something severely lacking in the story, to make it less than the wonder it could have been. After pondering on this a while, it came to me. Lots of things were just so unrealistic! For example when the wolves attacked, there just miraculously happened to be a tree house in front of Aria and Perry, which just miraculously happened to be empty, and just magically happened to appear just as Aria’s magically heightened sense of hearing heard the pattering of wolf paws behind them. And they just miraculously managed to get up in time, and then, to make it all seem like a ruse for setting, they just decided to have sex up in a tree despite just having been chased down by a pack of salivating, howling, snapping wolves who were supposed to be waiting at the foot of the tree, but who somehow decided to slink away because Aria howled at them.
The whole situation fell a little thin. It was too good to be true. Lots of these narrow-escapes-from-death littered the novel, making it seem just a little bit like the author lent her hand in far too much. Like how the boy comes and saves them from the cannibals at the last instant. It’s predictable, and banishes all sense of plausibility. This is what prevented me from enjoying the novel as much as I could have.
I did warn y’all about the spoilers.
After reading lots of reviews, I noticed a pattern in people’s reactions to the romance in this book, in that it wasn’t instant and unrealistic, as is so much of the romance in so many dystopian novels. People found this realistic and relatable.
The romance between Perry and Aria blossoms naturally. There are the initial feelings of mistrust, anger and fear towards each other, as is natural given that they both come from such different worlds, and are almost completely alien to each other. However I personally that it was slightly overdone, and rather unnecessary. Lots of people commented on how much they enjoyed the fact that the romance did not interfere with the plotline much, and I found that this was true. It was refreshing to be able to focus on an interesting plot without the frequent romantic episodes that scatter most dystopian novels.
There is so much more I want to know about this never sky, and the history of the people in the land, and what happens to them all, so despite the criticism, I will say that I did enjoy reading this book, and cannot wait to read Through the Ever Night.