Series: Under the Never Sky #1
Date Published: 2012-01-03
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Description: 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 a barbarian, 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.
I’m sad to say I was pretty underwhelmed with Under The Never Sky. I read so many glowing reviews, so my expectations were sky high on this one (pun intended). I guess you could say this novel fell into the pitfalls of hype category for me. It was very much a journey book, and my returning readers know how I feel about those. But on top of that, I just didn’t buy what the novel was selling.
The world building was pretty good, and I enjoyed learning about the differences between the Dweller world and their technology and virtual reality world in the Realms. I also found the Outsiders world interesting with the Aether storms and all the dangers with the Cannibals. I thought it really cool how the Outsiders have these gifts of special abilities (like being able to scent someone’s emotions) that them apart from their tribe mates. There were some other cool sci-fi elements that were not explained, like the kid Cinder and what his dealio is. I’d really like to know more about why he is like he is.
What I struggled with was the overall plot and the characters. I just didn’t believe in the characters. I didn’t really care much for Aria or Perry. Sorry, they were just not interesting enough. They have interesting abilities and issues, sure, but their personalities were not really presented and they felt a little flat. I also did not buy their romance one bit. It was very much tell not show, and so I didn’t feel what they supposedly felt and their getting together just felt out of place to me. There wasn’t enough dialogue between them and there were so few emotions that no feels were felt by this reader. Sorry. I didn’t mind the alternating POV in this novel, because both characters have individual stories to tell, but everything was in 3rd person and maybe if it were 1st person there might have been more feeling and thoughts about everything going on.
As for the plot, like I said, journey. The novel opens with a really exciting visit to a broken Dweller pod, but bad things happen and people die. Aria is one of the only witnesses, so for her honest testimony she earns getting kicked out – OUT. She’s expected to die, but somehow lives (and the explanation for that comes much later, and I did find that interesting, actually). Perry’s nephew gets kidnapped by Dwellers (they’re Outsiders) and so Aria teams up with Perry because they each can help in their quests. Aria is in search of her mother, and Perry is trying to find a way to rescue his nephew. Well, they walk and walk and encounter survival issues and cannibals on their way to get Aria’s eyepiece repaired so they can try to contact Aria’s mother and figure out where the nephew is being kept. Then they walk and walk and walk some more back to the Dweller pods. Lots of walking. Some banter along the way after they stop hating on each other. The ending of the book sets up some interesting plot points for the following books, but I can’t say much happened in this one. So that is why I was underwhelmed. I am interested maybe eventually in continuing reading because there are some intriguing threads that I want to see tied up.