Review: Under the Never Sky

I wrote this review roughly two and a half years ago for self-examination purposes (flashback to thirteen year old Shouryaman), and I’m finally releasing it to the world in all of its literary glory. Frankly, it’s the first legitimate book review I wrote, and I thought I would pay homage to the days I didn’t feel like the sky was going to fall. Without further adieu, voila:

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“Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland—known as The Death Shop—are slim. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He’s wild—a savage—and her only hope of staying alive. A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile—everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria’s help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption.

In alternating chapters told in Aria’s and Perry’s voices, Under the Never Sky subtly and powerfully captures the evolving relationship between these characters and sweeps readers away to a harsh but often beautiful world. Continuing with Through the Ever Night and concluding with Into the Still Blue, the Under the Never Sky trilogy has already been embraced by readers in twenty-six countries and been optioned for film by Warner Bros.”

Honestly, I’m slightly disappointed. Just slightly. Not because of the novel’s storyline (which was certainly distinct from the YA dystopian fiction slush pile) or characters, but rather because it has so much potential! The main issue I found with Under the Never Sky was its lethargic pace in the middle of the book, which continually dragged through shallow waters of lifeless scenes without even a sign of treasure gold, perhaps with the singular exception of Aria and Peregrine’s encounter with the Croven (and subsequent rendezvous with Marron). It took me FOREVER to finish, and I found myself struggling to flip the pages. Moreover, I thought Aria and Perry’s romance was clichéd, rushed (I felt like they hated each other one second, and the next, they were making out in a tree house), and somewhat demeaning to Aria’s admirable qualities, specifically her self-determination and independence.

However, in no way does Under the Never Sky’s pace or clichés undermine the originality and eloquence of Rossi’s storytelling, which demonstrates a masterful grasp of plot, diction and syntax that unfortunately only sporadically provide staccato, yet evocative, bursts of exhilaration. Rossi’s prose is ornate and elaborate, grounding her worldbuilding and characterization, but not overly florid, establishing a relatively “golden mean” that I absolutely adored, especially considering her previous career as an oil painter. Furthermore, Rossi’s characters are three-dimensional and complex with striking emotional depth, particularly Peregrine, whose strength of character is merely amplified by his manifest flaws and mounting struggles. The underlying message of the effects of political nepotism, governmental corruption, and technological dependence were equally refreshing and offbeat. Oh, and let’s not forget the dual perspectives! Frankly, these are often blatantly nauseating, but I thoroughly appreciated Rossi’s truly seamless switch between Aria and Perry’s (relatively) engaging voices.

All in all, I rate it a 3.5 (or maybe 4…I’m clearly bipolar) stars out of 5, but it definitely has the potential of a 5 star novel. Rossi unravels the grave realities of corruption, environmental degradation, and technological innovation with a steady and sure hand. Poised, resonating, and invigorating, Under the Never Sky is (fairly) memorable and (essentially) lives up to the hype.

Favorite Quote: “If there was no fear, how could there be comfort? Or courage?” – Aria

Favorite Fangirl Moment: When I recognized Rossi’s pure brilliance in naming Aria’s fictional world, “Reverie.” (Not really a fangirl moment, but you get the idea…right?)

Favorite Character: Cinder (let’s be real here: Cinder is epic)

Favorite Scene: the first scene, wherein Soren discovers the unparalleled exaltation of arson. Sigh.

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