“She absorbed the terror and beauty of him and his world. Of every moment over the past days. All of it, filling her up like the first breath she'd ever taken. And never had she loved life more.”
Rossi dives right in to the story from the very first page and uses the show rather then tell technique to develop her world. She drops the reader in right at the beginning of the action with little background information or real explanation as to what is occurring. Instead of being confused and frustrated, it actually made me want to continue on reading to understand more of this strange new world I had found myself in. Rossi managed to pique my interest within the first chapter and kept me intrigued to continue, a trait which many authors fail at. She has managed to take what is now a well developed genre in the YA field and put her own unique slant on it.
In Under the Never Sky the population have been forced into living in 'pods' these are bland structures that separate people from the outside world which has now become near inhabitable due to Aether storms, which are basically very severe electrical storms that consist of lightening and fire raining down from the sky (its all very biblical). These storms have destroyed the landscape and left the world a desolate and dangerous place. The people within in the pods have very limited 'real' interactions with each other, they never truly touch another person instead they communicate and live their lives through eye pieces known as smart-eyes which allow them to alter their realities, they can be partying in Ancient Greece one minute and the next they can be flying, they feel no pain but neither to they know what anything truly feels like. But one day Aria's mother (who has been sent to another pod known as 'bliss') fails to communicate with her, which leaves Aria panicked and she knows Bliss has been hit by one of the Aether storms and so when she hears of her chance to find out more information about her mother she takes it, which is how the story opens. The events that happen that night outside the pod will change Aria's life forever and she will be left questioning everything she thought she knew about herself and the life she leads inside the pods.
Rossi has done a superb job at creating a believable dystopian world, at first it was a world I wanted to live in the smart-eyes sounded like such a cool idea, the idea that you could experience such amazing feats intrigued me but as the story developed and I saw how Aria felt discovering touch and really being able to feel for the first time I realised how deprived the world inside the dome is and as it progresses Aria becomes more human and you see how the people inside the pods lack emotion and empathy, they are unable to connect emotion and killing and it ultimately results in a madness descending upon them. Rossi created a memorable and exciting world and I know that there is still more to uncover in the next instalment. I also really liked the differences between the dwellers and the outsiders or the moles and savages as they refer to each other as. Both groups of people are fearful of each other, they misunderstand each other. It was an intriguing twist that the outsiders developed enhanced senses due to being exposed to the Aether storms, some have better sight/hearing or smell which helps them in their survival on the outside.
Perry and Aria have spilt narration in this book, I liked being able to hear from both of their perspectives, normally I don't think this can work, as either the voices are not distinct enough or I end up not liking one of the characters but Rossi actually made it work here and it helped the story develop and the characters are actually more likeable because of this. I felt like I got to understand their backgrounds more which in turn helped in world development.
Perry and Aria are great leading characters but I don't think either of them could carry the story alone, Rossi has managed to create two strong leading characters that have their own reasons for needing to carry on through extreme circumstances, I could feel their pain and struggles. Aria has to struggle to life outside the dome, she struggles to adjust to her surroundings and Perry's indifference to her, all the while trying to find out what has happened to her mother whilst Perry has to struggle with the guilt he feels over loosing his nephew and the infuriating presence in his life that is Aria. The romance here wasn't insta-love, it was slow building but this made in more believable, at first they couldn't stand each other but as they spent more time together they soon started to realise they aren't as different as they first thought.
This book wasn't non-stop action, it was a slow build at the beginning but it does pick up speed and the plot starts to develop at a faster pace. It was funny and light hearted at some moments with Perry having to tell Aria about her 'Aunt Irma'. This wasn't just a dystopain read, it was a story about family and loyalty and above all trying to survive and keep going in the most pressing of times.
My rating: 4