Rating: 3.5/5 stars.
Apathy is such an ugly word. We should always connect with the characters we read about, even if it’s not in a positive way – or we should fall in love with the author’s writing, or the setting of the story. In Under the Never Sky, none of that happened. Instead, I felt it: apathy.
A synopsis of the plot would probably pique readers’ interest. In Under the Never Sky, humans live in sheltered Pods where, through technological advances, they access the Realms – virtual realities in which one can do almost anything without fear. Aria grew up in a dome called Reverie, safe from the Aether storms that threaten the lives of all in the Pods. But a reckless choice and an unfortunate consequence causes Aria to be thrown out of her home and into the Outside, a dangerous place full of savages and empty of the comforting pleasures Aria has always known. There she encounters a gifted savage named Perry, and embarks on a journey to find her mother, Lumina.
It’s not like this was a bad book. It had a unique premise and still possesses much room for development – it’s somewhat similar to Blood Red Road, by Moira Young. With young-adult dystopian novels I don’t expect to “think” too much. I expect to invest emotionally, especially in the characters. And the main difference between this book and other young-adult dystopian books I’ve read was that I couldn’t connect to the characters. I liked Perry and felt sympathy for him, but I didn’t love him. Aria certainly grew, but she was more of a passive receiver than a strong protagonist.
As other reviewers noted, some of the diction was off-putting. Apathy may be an ugly word, but “chirky” belongs in that category as well. I liked how Rossi did something different by showing how language changes over time, but not all of her choices felt like they fit.
Overall, a good book. I hope I didn’t come across as too harsh – despite the interesting setup and smooth incorporation of superpowers, I just couldn’t find anything to love. Perhaps I’ll read the next book to see if Rossi improves. Recommended for fans of young-adult dystopian novels who don’t mind Mary Sue leads.
Also, here’s a quote that I liked and marked on my Kindle:
“She had no illusions of becoming a master knife fighter. This wasn’t the Realms, where a thought delivered a result. But she also knew she’d given herself a better chance. And in life, at least in her new life, chances were the best she could hope for. They were like her rocks. Imperfect and surprising and maybe better in the long run than certainties. Chances, she thought, were life.”