Book Review : Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
The living conditions in the Pods are stark and gray, but it doesn’t matter because everyone can travel through the Realms. The Realms are a virtual reality where anything is possible, in fact, “Better than real.” Aria hasn’t been able to talk to her mother since communications went down to the Pod Bliss. Aria hopes to find answers when she plans an evening with Soren outside of the bounds of the Pod. Not only does she not receive answers but, she is blamed for Soren’s actions and the death of her friends. Suddenly Aria is thrust out of the safety of the Pod into the desert where she faces nature, savages and death.
Adult Point of View
I was not very happy with the first third to half of this book. It feels as though Rossi has directly taken ideas from other books. I was primarily reminded of The Scorch Trials, Delirium and Reality Bug. The aether storms seemed to come straight out of the desert in The Scorch Trials. The idea that the enclosed area is safe and the people living in the wilderness are dangerous/savages is the same as Delirium. The citizens of the pods living in their own virtual reality is very similar to the idea found in Reality Bug from the Pendragon series. The extra strong senses that some of the “savages” have remind me a bit of the heightened senses of certain vampires. (Twilight, if you didn’t catch my reference.)What is even worse is that none of those ideas were original either, and they could have taken their thoughts from even older books. Do you remember reading The Veldt, a short story by Ray Bradbury? In that little gem the children were absorbed into creating and living through a virtual reality that existed in their nursery. When the parents threatened to turn the nursery off the children reacted by having their parents eaten by the lions on the veldt. My point in mentioning this is that escapism with a virtual reality and the other ideas aren’t new but, what is important is what the author does with the concept.
Also another petty point, I did not like the cover of this book at all! This is another novel that switches back and forth between Aria and Perry’s (Peregrine) point of view. It seems like a lot of novels have done this recently and I have become accustomed to this slightly halting writing style.
The second half of the book improved. First to recommend this book, it does not have a love triangle. Hooray! Next, the relationship of Perry with his nephew Talon is very touching. Without this human connection Perry would have been too calculating and cold. I was bothered that Aria quickly moved on from the death of her friend Paisley, but on the other hand she was in a fight for her own survival. It was also rather pathos for Aria to be singing an aria over her dead mothers’ body. On the positive side for Aria she had a lot of personal growth and changed her prejudices. Last, many of the characters improved, such as, Roar, Cinder and Marron. I liked Roar’s character because he seemed full of life and was deeply caring, Cinder because he was full of angst and Marron because he stood between the two worlds.
The relationship between Perry and Aria gets very steamy (did I say annoying?) and is not very realistic. Perry tells Aria that she won’t get pregnant because she would have a different smell (I am rolling my eyes, oh how convenient.) There has been so much violence in young adult books I barely raised an eyebrow when Aria was confronted by the Crow people who were cannibals. I wouldn’t recommend this book for young teens because of the sex and violence. If you enjoyed books like Delirium, Divergent, Grave Mercy and The Maze Runner you will probably like Under the Never Sky. If you want to read something with better writing try The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima or Incarceron by Catherine Fisher.
3 out of 5 stars
I hesitated on the stars and am still considering lowering the overall rating to 2.75 because the beginning is really only worth about 2.5 stars. This is a fun book for escapism but doesn’t have a lot of lasting power.
– the Mother
The teen has not expressed an interest in reading this book because she thought it looked too predictable.