Review of “Under the Never Sky” by Veronica Rossi

This is a terrific read. I have to admit the jacket blurb sounded stupid to me, but I had seen gushing reviews, so I got it anyway, and was soon well-rewarded with some great story-telling.

Violent energy storms have broken the surviving human population into parts. One part lives inside protected domes, or “pods,” and another, divided into tribes, lives a more primitive existence on the outside. The two groups know each other as Dwellers and Outsiders, and each harbors misconceptions about the other. The Outsiders are thought to be caveman-like wild savages; the Dwellers elicit Outsider contempt because of their perceived softness and unearned privilege.

Aria, who has spent all of her seventeen years inside the pods, is suddenly evicted out into the open (and to a presumably certain death) after being in the wrong place at the wrong time. She is rescued by an Outsider, 18-year-old Perry, who agrees to help her get back to her home; he has his own reasons for wanting to get inside the pods. Together, they must fight the brutality of Outside in order to survive, but first, they need to overcome their own distrust and prejudice against one another.

Discussion: The plot summary may sound predictable, but it’s really not; unfortunately it would be spoilery to tell you why! Not only are Perry and Aria (chapters alternate between each of their point of views) very special in unexpected ways, but the obstacles they encounter are unique and quite original. The jacket blurb, for instance, mentions “cannibals,” but this very small part of the story involves a complex religious practice and not at all a “zombie” situation. Rossi never once jumps the shark in spite of all of her innovative plot lines, such as some genetic mutations, because she has explanations for them that are neither outrageous nor outlandish, as is often the case in these books.

Evaluation: I loved this post-apocalyptic story; it has it all: adventure, bravery, love, danger, tension, tenderness, betrayal, and loyalty. There is even a strong female lead who is not crabby – now there’s a departure! And there is suspense enough to keep you at the edge of your chair. Respect plays a large role in relationships, which gives both characters and readers a lot to think about. And yes, there is sex, but it is spoken of as “joining,” and it is so much more romantic than more explicit portrayals. But the love is really the best part. And I don’t just mean the love between the adults, but also the tenderness and devotion between the adults and children. In fact, the relationship between the young boy Talon and the adults who love him is perhaps the defining relationship of the story. For this Rossi creates the concept of “rendering” – a bond more than just love – a bond that makes another’s needs your own. There’s something in this book for everyone, whether you like post-apocalyptic books, medieval tales of tribes and bravery, or just plain old swoony love stories.

Rating: 4.5/5

Note: Although this is only book one of a trilogy, it actually ends, but in this case, you don’t want it to end!

Published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins, 2012

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18 Responses to Review of “Under the Never Sky” by Veronica Rossi

  1. Wow. No WAY I would have picked this one up based on the premise. It sounds like about fifty other books, and I have to fight the urge to do an eye roll. If I haven’t read this one in the next, say, six months, give me a poke.

  2. jennala9 says:

    I was just about to say what Sandy did, that I would never have otherwise considered reading this one. But I like all the concepts you mentioned like the suspense, and the love, and the non-crabby female lead, LOL!

  3. I’m beginning to think there’s something wrong with me that I don’t love dystopia. I do like that this one has alternating points of view.

  4. I really liked the alternating chapters in Scorpio Races — think I’ll have to give this one a shot too! I’ve been loving the YA stuff lately. 🙂

  5. Barbara says:

    Jill, I’m beginning to think you’ve been captured by other-worldly creatures and turned into an “Other.” 😀

  6. zibilee says:

    Oh yes! From your excitement about this one, I can tell it’s something that I would love. I also wouldn’t just pick it up based on the premise alone, but what you have said about it here makes me really excited to try it. I also love that the imagination and strange situations are not too farfetched to be believable. Wonderful review today!

  7. I really would have been turned off from this book just from the blurb, but you have convinced me to at least give it a try. I’m off to add it to my wish list.

  8. I’m glad you loved this one as much as I did! Although dystopian, it is different from the others like you mentioned. The love part is very defining in this novel. I loved Talon too and I wonder what will become of him in Book 2.

  9. Jenners says:

    It just sounds so familiar … but I’ll take your word that it is well done and original.

  10. I need to get over this prejudice against post-apocalyptic fiction…

  11. stacijoreads says:

    Almost a perfect score from you! This one has my attention!!!!

  12. msbookishreviews says:

    Finally getting a chance to comment, Jill. You’ve convinced me. I’m adding this to my list!

  13. It was a fantastic read, wasn’t it? And here I was intrigued by the blurb sounded exciting. Go figure. Thanks so much for your encouragement during bloggiesta.

  14. stacybuckeye says:

    Another awesome trilogy you are recommending? Jill, you really need to break them all down for us in one post 🙂

  15. bookingmama says:

    You are right, this doesn’t sound like a book that would interest me at all, but I have to take your word for it since you are the expert!

  16. Heather says:

    I’m with Sandy, Jennala, and Zibilee – I wouldn’t have wanted to pick this one up but your review convinced me otherwise. Going on the list!!

  17. Bookworm1858 says:

    I really liked the love story between Aria and Perry as it grew from them actually spending time and getting to know each other, not insta-love. I also appreciate your thoughts on the powerful love between adult and children, especially in the case of Talon-great food for thought.

  18. reecehd says:

    I’m not going to lie and say the entire book was just fantastic. The beginning sucked. I was so confused in the beginning about the storms and the qualities of the Outsiders. But it got better. A LOT better. In the end I was actually quite pleased. This isn’t the best post-apocalyptic book I have ever read, but it’s up there.

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