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.
In her enthralling debut, Veronica Rossi sends readers on an unforgettable adventure set in a world brimming with harshness and beauty.
Under the Never Sky was a frustrating book for me. From the beginning, the world building was confusing. Rossi places her readers right into this post-apocalyptic landscape with no hand-holding and very little in the way of explanation to bring us up to date. The story begins mid-action, with nothing leading to the dramatic events that cause the rest of the plot to develop. Some people might really like this–I didn’t. I found it needlessly obscure and unpleasant.
Quite a few times, I wanted to put this book down. As is so common in science fiction and dystopian novels today, Rossi has given her characters their own slang that they employ. I almost never care for this technique, and I didn’t appreciate it here either. It comes across as too jargony and too false, and immediate pulls me out of the story. As a reader, I want to establish an easy rhythm to hearing the narrative in my head; unfamiliar slang falls out of time and clashes with the beat.
I also had a hard time caring about the characters. I really didn’t like Aria at the beginning, because she seemed to have very little latch on to. Peregrine was okay, but also lacked depth for me. Their interactions, while sometimes nice, were also strange for my taste. At one point, Aria thinks she is dying, but Peregrine just informs her that she’s had her first period. What!? This is the sort of information that would have been better coming from a female figure, or even just a friend. The fact that it comes from her love interest gave me an icky feeling. That coupled with him telling her that she smells more strongly of violets when she’s ovulating made me cringe too much inside to take this romance seriously.
The book started picking up halfway through, and was okay after that, but not mind blowing. However, my opinion was already so thoroughly colored by that point that I was finishing the book just for the sake of not having wasted my time.
I know many people have read and loved this debut novel, but it was not for me. I plan on skipping the sequel, although I may read it if enough reviews convince me that it improves upon the first in the series.