Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Under the Never Sky
Great title, great cover, terrifying world. A world divided between people who live in automated domes where their whole lives are spent in virtual realities, never experiencing true emotions, connections, or human interactions. The rest of the world are Savages who live outside the domes and live in tribes and civilizations that barely scrape by through hunting and gathering. A world torn between two societies that have nothing in common but need each other in ways they never could have imagined. That is what Veronica Rossi's Under the Never Sky promises and delivers.
Aria grew up in the domes where life is simple and enjoyable. Work is done through automated machines so people have all the time in the world to enjoy themselves in the virtual Realms where they can be in Medieval Europe in one moment and on the moon the next. Her mother is a scientist and was working at another dome when communication was lost, and Aria will do anything to get news about her, even cozy up to the Consul's son. When a harmless flirtation and teenaged prank goes awry, Aria is blamed for the Consul's son's break with reality where he almost burned down the dome and quietly exiled from the domes. She is sure she won't survive the night, but she didn't expect to come across Perry, the very Savage who saved her from the fire.
Perry has never gotten along with his brother, the Blood Lord of their tribe, but he sticks around for his nephew, Talon, who grows sicker every day. Perry thinks the tribe is in danger of starvation and the ever-growing Aether storms that threaten total destruction each and every day, but his brother refuses to consider moving. When a hover craft from the Domes attacks Perry and kidnaps Talon, he will do anything to get him back, including taking Aria to the domes to trade her digital eyepiece with the evidence that will vindicate her of the fire. Two people who grew up in totally different worlds developmentally but geographically near find themselves thrust together in a harsh world full of angry wolves, terrifying storms, cannibals, and two societies that hate them. But they won't give up until they save their families: Aria's mother and Perry's nephew are the only things that matter now.
This was such an amazing dystopia I want to pick it up and read it all over again (but plan to wait until the second book Through the Ever Night comes out!). This world was a crazy dichotomy between technology-gone-too-far and civilization-thrown-into-the-stone-age. How can you possibly put those two worlds together, you ask? How can you do it and not see ridiculous or utilize time travel? Well Rossi has the secret and it lies within sealed, domed cities! The domed cities are a brilliant way to show the difference between the two societies and still remain realistic that these two societies could exist so close to one another and still never cross paths.
The characters, from Perry and Aria to all the supporting characters throughout the story, are phenomenal. They are deep, dynamic, and realistic with flaws and heroism rolled into one. They don't trust one another at first, obviously, but their circumstances mean they have to figure it out. Life and death situations can do a lot to bring two people together, no matter how different their childhoods were! The supporting characters are not just static caricatures that plague many books. You will find yourself loving them as much as you love the main characters (or hating the bad ones with an equal amount of intensity). Not only did Rossi build an incredible new world, she also nailed the characters better than most books I have read!
I would say this is a good book for any strong middle school student through any adult interested in the genre. The story is so interesting and exciting, you won't be able to put the book down. There is a little mild, vague sexual content, but it is nowhere near graphic or explicit. There is violence, but that is a given when you deal with most dystopias. Over all, I have to say I am dying to read the second book and will be suggesting this book to everyone I can! Brava, Ms. Rossi! You nailed it!