Under the Never Sky
HarperCollins Publishers, January 2012
Aria and Peregrine are polar opposites, one raised in a society of privilege and virtual reality and the other in a primitive world fraught with hunger and a harsh environment. Aria has never known real pain, scents, the joy of running through a forest or the sight of the sun as Reverie is a pod where everything is tightly programmed and controlled, where even birth is genetically manipulated. Perry has never known freedom from disease and physical hurt and has spent his life avoiding the climatic attacks of the electrified storms known as the Aether but he has the blessing of enhanced sight and smell.
Then Aria is exiled into what her people call The Death Shop because no one survives there. No one, that is, except all the tribes, including Perry’s, who live there. When Aria and Perry meet, the antagonism of two completely different life experiences is a guarantee of distrust and only their common goals of survival and getting to Bliss bring them together. Bliss is a distant pod where Aria hopes to find her mother and Perry hopes to find someone from his tribe that has been abducted. To get there, the two will need to survive cannibal and wolf attacks, the Aether, and a boy named Cinder who has a frightening power. What they don’t expect is how their personal relationship will change or how they will begin to appreciate each other’s worlds.
Under the Never Sky is a stellar example of just how good dystopian fiction can be. Ms. Rossi‘s use of alternating points of view keeps the interest level high and it is difficult for the reader to not like Aria and Perry a great deal. The author also has created secondary characters that are not at all likely to fade into the background as so many do. Cinder, in particular, is someone I want to know more about but I’m also intrigued by Marron and Roar. I’ll be looking forward with great anticipation to the next book in the trilogy when we’ll also hopefully learn more about the Aether and the Unity.
(Side note: I found it refreshing that this is written in the third person past tense that I prefer rather than the first person present tense so prevalent in young adult fiction these days.)
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, February 2012.