I didn’t really have any expectations at all for Under the Never Sky and I knew absolutely nothing about it beyond what I read from the blurb. Dystopian books tend to be a bit hit or miss with me and I was really worried I wouldn’t like it, since I have the entire series already. Luckily this was not a repeat performance of the ‘Lullaby Incident’ and I actually had fun reading this story!
I thought that Rossi’s novel was very successfully able to blend a variety of genres, including dystopia, post-apocalyptic and science fiction. Her ability to incorporate a number of elements – from the futuristic technology of the ‘Realms’ to the survival aspect of life among the tribes of ‘outsiders’ – was brilliant. I wasn’t expecting this contrast but it worked really well. Much of what was described in the book, where people escaped into virtual worlds, felt as though it could conceivably happen to humanity in the future. In a similar way, the science behind the epidemic going round among the Dwellers was actually believable, unlike in some books where it can literally make no sense.
Aria and Perry were some of the more likeable and well-rounded characters I have read about in recent months. Perry’s concern for his nephew in particular was something I enjoyed seeing explored throughout the story, and the conflict that arose between him and his brother as a result. As for Aria I liked how well she adapted to life beyond Reverie and how, when she needed to be, she became capable and focussed. The couple’s relationship really gets a chance to evolve too; it doesn’t just spring up out of nowhere. I was also pleased that Aria was able to be close friends with Roar (one of a plethora of great supporting characters) without it turning into a love triangle.
My first complaint is that Aria’s BFF Paisley’s death had absolutely zero emotional impact. As a reader I’d known her for all of five minutes before she died and I didn’t mourn her loss. Strangely enough, after the initial revelation, neither did Aria. In fact she barely even thought about her twice! How does that work? If I’m supposed to believe they were close I need to see it.
The second thing that I struggled to get my head around was the somewhat confusing sensory enhancements that Perry and some of the other outsiders possessed. Until their presence is explained in the books I think their existence will always feel a bit convenient; ways of getting the characters out of tight situations they otherwise couldn’t escape. Then we come to ‘Rendering’. The whole thing reminded me too much of the ‘imprinting’ in Twilight, and nothing good ever comes of things that remind me of Twilight.
Nor does anything good come of keeping secrets and telling lies. It never ends well. NEVER. Perry and Aria’s communication was doing so well until the final few chapters, at which point I was shouting down at the pages like ‘No, Aria, you don’t need to spare him this burden or whatever your justification is! Sharing is caring.’ Hopefully the next book will fix this one.
Three and a half stars feels like a fair rating for Under the Never Sky. The concept was intriguing and the ending left me feeling motivated to read on. I can guess from the title of the next book what the central focus of the story will be but beyond that I have no idea where this trilogy is headed. I’d better get reading, hadn’t I?