Monday, 18 March 2013

Published January 2012
Source: purchased
Rating: 5 paws

From the blurb: 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.

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi is set in what I assume to be our world, only 300 years in the future. Most of the human race now live in sealed domes, they are self-sufficient, heavily controlled, and the inhabitants spend their days in a virtual world where everything is better than real, via their Smarteyes – which is a form of biotechnology. On the outside are people they call Savages, living exposed to the elements and to the Aether, a weather formation with the potential to cause destruction and death.

Aria is sixteen and lives happily in Reverie. Up until five days ago, Aria’s life was uncomplicated. She spent her time in the virtual Realms with best friend Paisley, and had regular virtual meet ups with her mother who resided in another dome, Bliss, when she would sing for her mother. But then the connection to Bliss was lost and after Aria’s plan to find out what happened backfires, she is dumped into the world beyond Reverie.

Peregrine lives outside the domes as part of the Tidal tribe. His brother is Blood Lord but they no longer get along, the only reason that Perry doesn't challenge him is because of his nephew, Talon, who he loves and is rendered (bonded) to. There are traits in some Outsiders that give them special abilities, they’re called Scires. Perry is quite rare in that he has two strong traits, he is a Night Seer, he can see far and at night. And he can also smell tempers and know exactly what someone is feeling. Perry leaves the tribe when he loses Talon, and when Aria and he cross paths they agree to work together to try and fix both their problems.

I've heard a lot about this series and last year I ordered a copy only to ignore it until now. I was sure this would not be for me, that all the positive reviews would be hyped up and it would disappoint me. These days when I start a dystopian, my eyes are poised to begin eye-rolling but they got a rest while reading this book, which turned out to be a breath of fresh air in this crowded genre.

The story starts when we’re thrust straight into Aria’s world and life in the dome. I was intrigued by the Realms and the Smarteye that they all wear and just as intrigued by the tribal life of the Outsiders. If I had to choose, I’d pick living outside rather than in a dome.

This book is written in 3rd person, from the perspective of Aria and Peregrine, and normally I find it hard to connect with characters via 3rd person, and while at first I had no strong feelings towards the story or characters, eventually these two worked their way into my heart and I was hooked!

Aria isn't a typical YA dystopian heroine; instead she’s brave, determined, and focused. She is a bit scared of Perry but she knows he is her best chance at survival so she follows him without whining. Perry was a complicated character with a good heart, he feels as though he is cursed and ruins the lives of those around him, but he goes out of his way to help Aria, despite their contempt for each other. This dislike was realistic and believable, they have both been taught about the other’s world in a negative way, and I was so glad when they didn't immediately fall for each other - hooray for authors writing books sans insta-love! Another aspect I enjoyed compared with other YA, is that when Aria meets a former romantic interest of Perry's, Rose, she isn't the typical bitchy ex-girlfriend, instead she's nice to Aria.

I almost posted this without mentioning one of my favourite characters, Roar! Roar is Perry's best friend and an Audile, someone who has extraordinary hearing. He is charming, funny, and talented and provided a great balance to Perry's serious personality. He reminded me of a younger version of Belen from Touch of Power.

The world building was really well done, and I enjoyed the story so much that I didn't have time to question anything, like how exactly the domes came to be and why some people were allowed, or chose, to live outside them. I thought the use of the Realms was clever, it meant that despite the fact that Aria had only ever lived inside Reverie, she still knew what gadgets, tools, food, paintings were because there is a Realm for every decade, time period, theme etc. It meant that we didn't have a completely clueless heroine and this helped the story move along at a good pace because we didn't need to stop to have everything explained to her.

I felt as if the story came first in this book, and that means an intriguing plot, believable characters that were well thought out, and an interesting world which was easy to imagine. The author even threw in some words that were either variations on our language or completely new eg. wrathy, skitty, chirky, must, rancy, and my favourite: meshed well (this has to be a Clueless reference, right?)

The story definitely didn't feel censored like a lot of YA and I liked that it took the time to mention real life issues like Aria getting her first period (Perry was so understanding and sweet in this scene), or having sex for the first time (in a tree house!)

Under the Never Sky is a refreshing take on the dystopian genre. The world is unique and vivid, the plot is intriguing and has plenty of twists and reveals, the characters are believable and loveable, and the ending made my heart PING! I’d recommend this to all YA readers, especially those that might be a bit sick of all the same-samey dystopian books already out there.


Lucy said...

Yay! I'm so glad you liked it because this is definitely one of my favourite books. I read it last month and completely fell in love with it and have since read the second book in the series, Through the Ever Night.
I completely agree with you- Aria wasn't a typical YA protagonist and this is definitely something that I, personally, really liked.
You must read the sequel now; it's even better!

Keertana said...

YES! I am thrilled that you've loved this book as much as I did, Mandee! I was completely won over by the romance between Aria and Perry and the concept as a whole is just fantastic. I think the sequel is just as good as this one is, so I can't wait to see your thoughts on that! :) Brilliant review, dear! :D

Lauren said...

YAY! So glad you love this, it really blew me away. And I totally second your love of Roar. He's my favorite, and my love is getting stronger as the series progresses.

"These days when I start a dystopian, my eyes are poised to begin eye-rolling" <---YES, this is exactly how I feel when opening a new dystopian. Everything is so overdone, but this series is definitely a standout for me. Can't wait to hear your thoughts on Through the Ever Night. Fabulous review!

Pink Lady 631 said...

Hi, Thanks for sharing. This one is sitting on my shelf and I've heard so many great reviews :D glad u liked it

bigskybooks said...

Ahhh, I have so many other books I plan to read right now, but I've had a copy of this on my Kindle forever and now I feel like I should just read it already! Great review.

Bailey said...

Glad to see this one got 5 paws!! I was excited about this one and I really need to read it. I won a copy a while back but never got the chance to sit down and read it. Going to have to do that sooon! You make it sound so good! I'm so curious about the world and the characters. I also love that you mention it doesn't seem censored! I love those kind of books. Like Siobhan Vivian she just tells it how it is in her books and that's part of the reason I love her work so much. She doesn't do BS lol. :D Fantastic review Mandee!! You're cat is so stinking adorable!!

Belle said...

OK, you make this sound so awesome! I'm a bit wary of dystopian too but this sounds really great, especially if it feels realistic and puts the story and characters first.

Danielle said...

Can I be completely controversial and say I've passed on this book because of that atrocious cover...? *I am so ashamed*

This review has me reconsidering my judgement though :)

Erin W. said...

I'm glad you enjoyed this one. I can't wait to see what you think of the sequel which I'm sure you're going to love too. It was so much better than the first book. Anyway, great review!

Candace said...

Oh you're right, Belen and Roar do have a similar personality!
I liked this book but I found I liked it more later, like it really stuck in my head and grew on me after finishing it. I have the 2nd one but haven't had a chance to read it yet.

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) said...

YES! Clearly since you loved this one, you're going to love Through the Ever Night even more. Rossi is incredibly talented and she did some things here that are VERY original. I admire her so much.
The only thing I dislike is this cover. It's the UK cover as well, but they recently changed it, and now the UK covers are the prettiest, heh.
Great review!

Tanja - Tanychy said...

Oh boy I really have to read this book. I've heard a lot about this book and people really worship it! I see you like it too so I guess I'm the last person on the earth who haven't read it. I must fix that soon :) Great review :)

Reynje said...

So glad you loved this, Mands. I thought it was really good, too, especially after a streak of mediocre dystopian books. I know some didn't enjoy the worldbuilding in this, but I have to say, I thought it was fantastic. I felt completely engaged in the world, and in Perry and Aria's story. Loved the character development too - particularly with Aria. I think Rossi did a great job with her character arc, as well the relationship between she and Perry. Really looking forward to diving into the sequel soon.

Megan K. said...

Another five-star (or paw, in this case!) review! I keep telling everyone that I WILL read UNDER THE NEVER SKY, but I just never get to it. I know what you mean by not connecting when books are written in third-person views - I always feel detached from the story somehow, but I'm glad to see that Aria and Peregrine grew on you as the story progressed. It sounds like there are lots of things to love in this book!

For the last time, I'm telling you. I will read this book. I will.

Thanks for the lovely review, Mandee!

P.S. I can't believe it took me THIS long to stumble across your blog! It's so cute I think I might actually die from all the adorable-ness. ;) New follower!

Bookworm1858 said...

I really liked the slow buildup for the romance too. I initially struggled with the world but after giving the book a chance, Rossi just swept me away!

Jenni @ Alluring Reads said...

Oh man I need to get on reading this one. I have had it forever as well but haven't picked it up yet. I love that you connected with the 3rd person here, I have a tough time getting into that perspective but I am happy to see that it works. I am so excited to meet Roar. Fabulous review!

Brandi Kosiner said...

Glad to hear that Aria isn't typical heroine and this book in general brings something new to the genre. I need to make time for it, and will do so a bit more quickly after your review.
Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

Hilda K said...

Oh, wonderful review, Mandee! <3 You definitely convinced me to read this book! Like you, I usually find 3rd person POV hard to connect with, but this one seems like a great exception! I'll make sure to hunt down this book next time I go to the bookstore. The whole dome thing is making me really curious! :)

Yay for original dystopian! Thank you for the brilliant review, hun! <3

elena said...

I seriously need to re-read this! I heard that the sequel is EVEN BETTER! I enjoyed the first one but suffer from I Don't Really Remember Anything syndrome. I did like the new words Rossi introduced though, I always wondered about speech in dystopians. Great review, M!

Livvy said...

I have my copy sitting on my shelves unread since I haven't had the time, but your review definitely makes me want to pick it up now.

It sounds like the novel I'll enjoy and something more realistic and gritty.

Perry and Aria sound great and the world building of all these domes.

Awesome review! :)

Alexa Y. said...

I'm so glad that you enjoyed this first book! I've had it on my shelf for about year, but not gotten around to reading it. It looks like I might have to though, since your review basically tells me I'm going to like it too!

Nikki said...

Honestly, it took me awhile to really warm up to this book, but once I did, man I was really hooked! Suffice it to say, the appearance of Roar really helped there! Coincidence? I like to think not. And I agree with you, it's such a fresh take on the dystopian genre which is really nice to see. Aria and Perry come off as distant and somewhat harsh, but they really do manage to weasel their way into your heart as you watch them both grow and learn from one another. I totally loved it and am so pleased that you did too!

Katja Weinert said...

When I read it, the first chapter didn't grab me I was scratching my head as to why so many people loved it and then I was sucked in too!
"...which turned out to be a breath of fresh air in this crowded genre." Yup, I felt that way too. Great review, Mandee :)

Sharon ObsessionwithBooks said...

I'm so pleased you enjoyed this Mandee! I loved it and can't wait to read the sequel. I loved Roar! He was such a fabulous character and the romance was so sweet (yay for no insta-love).

A wonderful review! :)

Heidi said...

Oh boy, I always forget how terrible that cover it, one of the rare cases where the US cover is significantly better. Glad you read it despite that though! These books really are a breath of fresh air in this genre, and I really think anyone who loves great characterization will get into them, despite the futuristic stuff. I'm so happy you love Roar!!! He gets even better. Can't wait to hear your thoughts on the next one!

Courtney Reads A Lot said...

I loved Under the Never Sky. It definitely stood out in this genre. I completely agree about preferring to live outside the Dome, even though I'd love a Smarteye. Roar was my favorite character ever and I'm so tempted to read the prequel just to see how things developed between Roar and Liv. I just finished Through the Ever Night and I really enjoyed it too. This is a great series! Loved your review! :D

Micheline D said...

Oh brilliant review Mandee, just brilliant!! I was excited when you commented on the blog that you were reading this one and I am SO happy that this one lived up to the hype for you. I'm even more excited to start this one for myself :D

TheBookSlayer said...

It also took me a while to connect with Perry and Aria. I agree, Under the Never Sky focuses a lot on the story, plot building, etc. I gave this one 3 stars, but I definitely know that book two will be rated higher. To me it felt like book one was just the launching plate. Great review! Glad you loved this one. It's funny how we both had it on the shelf for so long before we gave it a shot.

Britt said...

I really need to read this book. It's one of your nominees for a local book award. Now that I know you really enjoyed it, I'll have to get to it soon.

Hannah @ So Obsessed With said...

OH OH OH! I'm so glad you loved this one :)

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Karen said...

I was on a dystopian reading kick when I read this one so it sort of blurred with all the others. I think I want to read it again, along with the second book to give it another chance because I did like the characters.

Jennifer Messerschmidt said...

I still need to read this one! It caught my attention right when it came out and I read a couple pages but was a bit confused. Sounds like it does have a lot of interesting world building that I'll probably need to give more time to understanding. I am also not a fan of 3rd person but I'll try again.

Rachel said...

Reading this review makes me want to read these books all over again! I rarely do re-reads anymore but I may do just that when book three comes along because I loved this series so much. I was touched about how sweet Perry was when Aria got her first period, too! That was a scene that stuck with me. I thought the world building was fabulous, not too or too little. Brilliant review Mandee. :)

Btw, I got my husband to read these books and he LOVED them. He came with me to the author signing and told Veronica so. She was quite pleased as there aren't many men out there who read her series. Lol. :)

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