Under the Never Sky (2012) – Veronica Rossi


Two stars

Read Oct 02 2014 – Oct 06 2014

Book 1 of Under the Never Sky

Exiled from her safe home in the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria finds herself in the outer wastelands known as the Death Shop. If the cannibals don’t get her, the violent energy storms will. There she meets a savage, an Outsider named Perry – wild, dangerous – who is her only chance of survival.

But Perry needs Aria, too, and they are forced into an unlikely alliance that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.

The world: Presumably in a post-apocalyptic future, Dwellers live in Pods – interconnected domes which make up their cities among vast wastelands. Each Dweller has a Smarteye, a device which allows people to “fraction” and visit virtual-reality worlds known as Realms where they can do whatever they want with just a thought. The Pods are to protect citizens from the Aether – a mysterious thing, presumably natural weather element that is constantly in the sky and can bring storms. What is the Aether and how did it get there? Who knows. There is an annoying lack of world-building that I normally love in dystopian fiction. Things are just there and happen, don’t look at the fine print too closely. Those who live outside Pods are known as Outsiders and are meant to be savages and cannibals and all that jazz.

The characters: Aria, a Dweller, gets exiled because of a fire that killed three of her friends. Perry, an Outsider, who is a Scire (can scent people’s tempers) and can also see very well. His nephew, Talon, gets kidnapped by the Dwellers. And so the two team up, needing each other, disliking and not trusting each other in the beginning and as it goes on then yeah I don’t know ten points if you can guess what happens between them.

The reception for Under the Never Sky was very positive, but to be honest I don’t see what the hype is about. It’s not bad by any means, but maybe I’ve outgrown this genre (finally). The romance felt laughable and cliche (oh no he walked out of the room without even looking at me! What does it mean?), the world-building was rather weak, the characters were… boring. There was nothing unique about them that separated themselves from all the other protagonists of this genre, and they honestly just did what I expected them to.

One final thing that really irks me. Perhaps irrationally (given the poorly developed nature of the Aether which I just kinda let slide). The Aether has created mutations in the Outsiders, enhancing certain senses. Rossi speculates that the tiny population of Outsiders propagates the evolution, but it honestly takes millions of years for discernible effects of evolution. Plus Aria’s mother is researching DLS, or Degenerative Limbic Syndrome, where the limbic system of the brain, well, degenerates. The limbic system is sort of known as the reptilian brain – the primitive brain. Okay, maybe it’s plausible that the limbic system alone is impaired (although highly unlikely since it’s present in practically everything with a brain), but the book seems to suggest that the onset is quite spontaneous. Like all of a sudden, due to living in a cushioned world which has eradicated feelings of fear etc. your brain can just snap and you go crazy. Even if it’s an evolutionary thing (which makes it even more farfetched) then I dunno. Just feels a little weak.

Under the Never Sky
Under the Never Sky (2011)
Through the Ever Night (2013)
Into the Still Blue (2014)


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