Veronica Rossi 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
300 years after the unity and the remains of humanity is divided into two distinct groups. Sealed in self-sufficient pods and cut off from the outside world, the “Dwellers” are dependent on technology, relying on genetically modified food stuff, reproductive technologies and alternative realities. They tolerate the claustrophobic and monotonous conditions by retreating in to the Realms, a “better than real” alternative reality, where they conduct the majority of their social interactions.
While the “Outsiders” live undoubtedly harder lives, struggling to survive with limited natural resources. They make the most of their shortened life spans, celebrating life’s milestones, living in family groups and have physical closeness that the dwellers lack. While the dwellers have become physically weakened by their “cushy” lifestyles, the tribe’s people of the outside world have become stronger, with some Outsiders evolving extraordinarily powerful senses to survive the harsh environment.
Under The Never Sky is told from the alternating third person perspectives of Aria, a pod dwelling songbird and Perry, a battle scared survivor of the outside world. The scapegoat for a teenage prank that went awry, Aria is cast out of Reverie, and un-ceremonially dumped in to The Death Shop (the outside world). With little chance of survival Aria know that her only hope is to find her scientist mother.
The technology loving Dwellers are almost easier to visualise and relate to, with their environment and technologies more familiar to us than the tribal existence of the Outsiders. You can almost understand Aria’s superior attitude toward the primitive “savages” and like Aria you experience the culture shock of leaving the comfortable, controlled technology dominant dome in to the dirty, uncomfortable and harsh outside world.
Perry is undoubtedly a swoon worthy protagonist, my favourite kind of hero, a rugged, self-sufficient exterior hiding inner turmoil and a big heart. Despite being naturally suspicious of Dwellers and initially repulsed by Aria, Perry risks his life to save her. Perry is not just Aria’s protector but he is also a facilitator in Aria’s development in to a confident and strong survivor. Rather than provide Aria with food he teaches her how to find safe berries to eat, rather than stand guard he teaches her how to protect herself.
The Aether, the sky poised to attack, is a constant, omnipresent threat, that you cannot hide from and you cannot fight. A character in its own right, the Aether felt more like a conscious creature than a weather system. While reading I imagined it as a cross between a lightning storm, and a tornado with the intelligence of “the Smoke” from the Lost series. On one hand I am very curious about the origins of the Aether and I hope that Veronica reveals more about this fantastical element in further instalments of the series. But I am also nervous that too much explanation will diminish the tension it creates, like with horror movies, where the sinister threat is somewhat reduced when the monster is revealed.
While I loved Veronica Rossi’s world building, the real joy of Under The Never Sky for me was the development of Aria and Perry’s relationship. Brought up to fear and despise each other Aria and Perry are forced to rely on each other and work together. This coming together through necessity eventually develops in to friendship and later love.
Verdict: For me this was a perfectly paced romance with a perfect ending. The 2013 release of Through The Ever Night cannot come soon enough. Reviewed by Caroline
Publication Date: February 2012
Genre: Post Apocalyptic, Dystopian, Sci-Fi
Challenge: Debut Author