Published by: HarperCollins
(Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers!)
Release Date: January 3, 2011
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
WORLDS KEPT THEM APART. DESTINY BROUGHT THEM TOGETHER. 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. If they can survive, they are each other's best hope for finding answers.
1. (+/-) Protagonists Aria & Peregrine - It took me a really long time to warm up to Aria, and even when I didn't dislike her anymore, I still felt distant from her. I think a good part of my reaction has to do with the society she lived in.... It was hard to identify with her when everything was just a dream to her - better than real - she seemed incredibly spoiled... But later I still didn't know that many concrete facts about her or know what she was really like. Also, she kept talking about her best friend, but honestly I didn't see their connection in the beginning either... On the other hand, Peregrine was awesome. I felt his angst from the start and his family connection was heart-breaking. I wanted to root for him from the start. He pulled me out of my dislike of the beginning and into the story.
2. (+) World-building - Pretty much every review of Under the Never Sky I had read prior to reading it praised the world-building, and they were all right. At first I was a bit overwhelmed... but after a while, once I had adjusted, I could appreciate all the details and the careful planning that Veronica Rossi put into this world. Cannibal tribes and superpowers and genetics and oh man! I loved the science portion in this fantasy world (don't worry, it's not too hardcore). I won't spoil for it for you, but the world was so wonderful that I can't wait to delve back in it for the sequel.
3. (--) The Beginning - So Aria starts off the book, and since I was also a bit confused by all the details of the world being thrown at me, this book didn't grab me from the start. I would say that the beginning is its weakest point, but...
4. (+) But once it got going... - I couldn't let go of it. Took about 80/268 Galley pages for that to happen, but at least it did and when it did, I couldn't stop thinking about it.
5. (...) Depends on Every Reader - So I enjoyed reading this book... but I remembered a conversation with my critique partner - she had said that YA books nowadays seem to have plots that are dragged out over the series... And I thought about this book. I think it may fall into this category. Not all that much happens in this book - it's sort of like an exploration of the world (and the major revelation is made really late in the book) and the Aria and Perry fall in love in the meanwhile... But that's not to say that it wasn't fun. If you like the details and like your characters fleshed out, then you will enjoy reading this book. But if you are someone who looks for action, you may not.
6. (+) Character Cast - Most of the characters were really fleshed out. You could see their fears and strengths and identify with them. One of the strongest points of this book.
7. (+) The Romance - A hate turned love relationship that plays out really well. They argue a lot in the beginning but gradually they learn to get over their prejudices and open up to each other... And when the romance really picked up, it was written sweetly. (Though I'm still a little uncertain about the turning point in their hate/loveness - about why Peregrine finally started to see Aria as a girl. I mean, yes, she had her first bleeding, but they had had an argument and still didn't really like each other.)
8. (+) The Writing - For the most part, excellent. There were a bunch of times when I noticed that the author had used the same sentence construction at the start of several consecutive paragraphs (which distracted me / pulled me out a bit)... Me noticing that though may be because I read it on a computer. But that's a really nitpicky detail -- the descriptions are vivid and work well in this story.
9. (+) Alternating Perspectives - I was really pleased with the way the alternating perspectives worked in this book. They seemed to be chosen with purpose and they always offered something different in terms of looking out at their world. Both character voices were well developed.
10. (+/-) The Cover - The Kindle cover is WAY better than the US hardcover one (it tells you something about the book!). I like the blues like the Aether and the Still Blue for the US - think that's great, but I hate the girl walking forward like that. There's nothing more unoriginal than yet another girl doing that for a YA cover.
Great characters, great romance, great world-building. Stick with it and you'll see Under the Never Sky for what it is: an enchanting debut.