Thursday, 5 April 2012

review: Under the Never Sky

by Veronica Rossi
HarperCollins, January 3, 2012
young adult dystopian

Once Aria burns down an old Pod of her world, she knows she'll be in trouble -- and she is. Banned from the safety of her sheltered life, she's sure to die in the unprotected outside... until she meets Peregrine. Together they form an uneasy (but later on easy, don't worry) alliance and decide to trek across the wastelands underneath roiling Aether storms, both to achieve their own goals. Whether they'll succeed or not depends on how many obstacles the author decides to give them the risks they face and how high the stakes rise.
Well, would you look at that? I managed to end my summary on a dramatic note even while being snarky, throwing an em dash and with a gratuitous ellipsis. *cue proud grin*

The cover:

Oh, HarperCollins. You and your raising-my-expectations-and-hopes covers. I adore the dramatic blue flares of light contrasted with the simple fading-into-deep-blue background for the title. Such a cover. Such a book... well, you'll see from the review.

The book:

All the buzz. D: By now I should know better than to listen to other authors hype books, seriously. I think I'll be sticking with book blogger opinions from now on. Oh, and Under the Never Sky is really similar to the premise of this 2010 middle-grade novel, A Crack in the Sky by Mark Peter Hughes. Whatever this book is, it's not original.

So, Aria. And Perry. Alone, they're bearable; each has their own problems and worries that make them at least not unlikeable. But the key word in the summary is "together". When we're focused on the romance, the stereotypical can't-stand-each-other attitude wears out quickly; the can't-stop-looking-in-each-other's-eyes change happens more drastically than a Tennessee Walking Horse's turn on a dime. It'll cause its fair share of eyerolls.

Secondary characters and plot are similar in that they're there enough to be sufficient, and that's it. Roar stuffs Aria with info on Perry, while the storyline gets stuffed with various troubles which do nothing to change the story's trajectory. That latter point is probably my biggest complaint: why have all these twists and turns if they don't shift the basic story?

Under the Never Sky is somewhat redeemed by its worldbuilding. The supernatural sense are a little overboard (as are the Caps on Every thing that Seems to Deserve a Name), but the Aether and its storms provide interesting ties to a power to be explored. As well, the concept of Aria's realms is a jazzy sci-fi kink; it's nothing new, but in the dystopian setting it's intriguing.

N.B.: was I the only one who wanted Aria's singing to play a more important role than just serenading Perry?
N.B.: I hate the trailer.

Rating: 2.4 out of 5