Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Under the Never Sky Book Review

 Author: Veronica Rossi. Release date: 2012. Publisher:  HarperCollins. ISBN: 9780062072030.
Annotation: In the distant future, the world is divided into two groups: Dwellers who live in domed cities protected from the terrible electrical storms that permeate the sky, and Outsiders who brave the elements and live as primitive tribes of hunters and gatherers. After a terrible accident in her city of Reverie, Aria, a Dweller, is cast out into the wilderness. There she meets Perry, a handsome Outsider and outcast from his own tribe, and the two vow to help each other return home.
Personal thoughts: I am a big fan of both dystopian and survival novels, so Under the Never Sky was a perfect fit for me! I really liked the concept of the domed cities, especially the Realms, and how that life impacted Aria after she was exiled into the Outside. Both Perry and Aria were interesting characters with a lot of depth, which kept my interest high as I travelled with them on their journey through the wilderness. I hope that in the following novels, the author goes into more detail about the exact nature of the electrical storms (that concept was especially intriguing.) I am really excited about this trilogy and would definitely recommend it for fans of dystopia, romance, survival, or for teens who simply want a well-written and exciting read.
Plot summary: In the distant future, society as we know it has collapsed, replaced by a savage and brutal wasteland plagued with electrical storms that torch everything in their path. The world has become divided into two groups. The first are the Dwellers who live in domed cities protected from the outside world. In these cities, the people spend most of their time in the Realms, virtual realities that mimic what the world used to be like and allow the Dwellers to travel from place to place in the blink of an eye. The second group is the Outsiders: people who brave the storms and live in primitive tribes as hunters and gatherers. Aria is a Dweller and has spent her seventeen-years living in the domed city of Reverie with her scientist mother, Lumina. After travelling to another domed city known as Bliss, Aria loses contact with her mother. In an effort to learn what has happened, Aria becomes involved in a terrible accident that takes the lives of two of her friends and causes her to be exiled from Reverie and cast out into the wilderness. There she meets Perry, an Outsider her age who was thrown out of his tribe after he was blamed for the kidnapping of his nephew, Talon, by Dwellers. Perry and Aria, though distrustful of one another, realize they can help each other return home: Perry by taking Aria to Bliss and Aria by giving Perry a way to retrieve Talon. As the two travel through the harsh wilderness, however, they begin to discover that they have more in common than they thought.  
Review:  In the current sea of dystopian novels that is young adult literature, there are those that stand out from the crowd as fresh, original and intriguing. Under the Never Sky, the first installment in a new trilogy for teens, is one of those novels. Part Hunger Games part Clan of the Cave Bear, debut author Veronica Rossi has created something truly unique that juxtaposes high-tech gadgetry with primitive tribal life. Aria and Perry, both narrators of the novel, are equally strong characters, giving the reader two protagonists to easily care about and identify with. Their evolution throughout the story, from distrust and contempt to mutual understanding and love, is expertly paced and well executed. Other characters, Perry’s friend Roar and mysterious orphan Cinder are equally interesting, giving the novel depth and richness. Perhaps the biggest accomplishment of Under the Never Sky, however, is the intricate landscape that Veronica Rossi has created. From the domed cities, to the electrical storms, to the tribes of vicious cannibals, the reader is plunged headfirst into Aria and Perry’s world. According to the book jacket, the book has been optioned for film by Warner Brothers, something that comes as no surprise after arriving at the exciting final pages of the novel. The second installment in this trilogy, Through the Ever Night, is set to be released in 2013.
Genre: Science-Fiction
Reading level: Grade 8+
Similar titles: The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, Earth’s Children series by Jane Auel.
Themes:  Dystopian, post-apocalyptic, exile, virtual reality, survival, loyalty.  
Awards/Reviews:  Starred reviews from Kirkus. Positive reviews from VOYA
Series Information: First installment in Under the Never Sky trilogy. Second novel, Through the Ever Night, set to be released in 2013.
Discussion questions: 
-    Would you rather live as a Dweller or an Outsider? Why?
-     Why do you think Aria was exiled from Reverie?
-      Do you think Perry did the right thing in leaving the Tides? Why or why not?
-     Why do you think Aria and Perry didn’t like each other at first?
-     Were you surprised by Lumina’s “Songbird” message?
-      What would you like to see happen in the sequel?

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