Under The Never Sky
- Veronica Rossi
E-Arc courtesy of netgalley and HarperCollins
Aria is a teenager in the enclosed city of Reverie. Like all Dwellers, she spends her time with friends in virtual environments, called Realms, accessed through an eyepiece called a Smarteye. Aria enjoys the Realms and the easy life in Reverie. When she is forced out of the pod for a crime she did not commit, she believes her death is imminent. The outside world is known as The Death Shop, with danger in every direction. As an Outsider, Perry has always known hunger, vicious predators, and violent energy storms from the swirling electrified atmosphere called the Aether. A bit of an outcast even among his hunting tribe, Perry withstands these daily tests with his exceptional abilities, as he is gifted with powerful senses that enable him to scent danger, food and even human emotions. They come together reluctantly, for Aria must depend on Perry, whom she considers abarbarian, to help her get back to Reverie, while Perry needs Aria to help unravel the mystery of his beloved nephew’s abduction by the Dwellers. Together they embark on a journey challenged as much by their prejudices as by encounters with cannibals and wolves. But to their surprise, Aria and Perry forge an unlikely love - one that will forever change the fate of all who live UNDER THE NEVER SKY.
Aria lives in the pods where some humanity retreated too after the skies were covered by Aether. She is a privileged with access to the realms any time – a sort of 3D interactive, immerse internet with a realm for any type of scenario from ancient Rome to futuristic When communication to the pod her mother is working in is cut off she is desperate to find out what is happening and takes a risk which backfires. She finds herself outside of the pod for the first time and among savages who survived the Aether outside, savages like Perry, who wants to be Blood-lord of his tribe...
There is something so enticing about humanity being split in two, dating back two HG Well’s Eloi and Morlocks and this story explores similar ideas. The people inside the domes are reliant on continual access to the realms with the virtual world more real to them than the real where space and colour is limited. Outside they have adjusted to the changes in the atmosphere with little technology but heightened senses. I loved the difference between the two cultures and how we were slowly introduced to each and explore them.
Aria and Perry are both great characters –each a little young at the start but growing up fast as they learn more about the world around them and each other. There is a romance here but it never feels like insta-love and really comes from trust and respect they gain for each other their journey. It was one of my favourite YA romances because despite their feelings for each other they were realistic about how it would end and knew the difference between them and their cultures. Their journey over the mountains to find their missing family members was exciting and a good exploration of the world. Aria especially seems to change and gain confidence throughout the story - and she was definitely someone I could relate too. The supporting characters are interesting too – I really liked Marron and think there is a good story behind his outpost in the mountains.
This is an excellent addition to the YA dystopia genre with a hostile environment, antagonistic cultures and a true Romeo and Juliet style romance – complete with an tantalising glimpse of the future search. One to read quickly and start pining for the next book!
Recommended for fans of Suzanne Collins and Carrie Ryan. 8 out of 10.