UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi is the first in the trilogy of the same name. This dystopian novel is set in our distant future, although the tech makes it sound like it could be just a few years from now. When we first meet Aria, our female protagonist, she’s living in a totally enclosed city (pod) called Reverie, and breaking the rules with some of her friends. But things go terribly wrong that night, and an Outsider named Perry comes to her rescue. Without giving away too many spoilers, Perry and Aria are thrown together on a life-changing adventure, and the two learn that although they’ve grown up in drastically different ways, they may not be so different after all.
The Dwellers, those who live inside the pod cities, are equipped with devices called SmartEyes that fit over their left eyes and allow them to travel within different virtual realities called the Realms. They remind me of a later generation of the Google Glass Project. All I can ask is, where can I get one of these?
Aria is a fascinating young woman who grew up sheltered in Reverie and who always believed that the Outsiders, those who lived in the “wild” outside the protected cities, were diseased and dangerous and would kill and eat you on sight. So naturally, when she first meets Perry, she’s scared and unsure of what he’ll actually do to her. Is he really a cannibal? Is he going to take her prisoner and leave her to die in the Real? But overall, despite her inexperience with anything outside the Realms, Aria rises to the challenge and learns that she’s stronger than she ever thought she could be. Although she changes in some uncomfortable ways at first, eventually she realizes that she’s a better person for overcoming her circumstances and admits that she’ll never be able to go back to life the way it was.
And then you have Perry. He’s grown up as an Outsider his entire life, and his brother is the Blood Lord (leader) of their tribe, the Tides. He wants so desperately to stand up and take more responsibility, but he can’t because that would mean defying his brother. But when everything changes and the thing he holds most dear is ripped away from him, he realizes he’ll stop at nothing to make things right again—even if it means leaving his tribe behind in the meantime. But to complicate matters, he has to put up with a Dweller who is totally inexperienced with anything that doesn’t involve virtual reality, and teaching her extra survival skills will only slow him down. But despite their differences, Perry eventually learns that it’s helpful to have allies, even if they’re total opposites.
I loved the fact that the story was told from alternating points of view. Seeing things through both Aria and Perry’s eyes helped round out the story and flesh it out for readers. With fast-paced action, some surprises and twists, and even some romance along the way, UNDER THE NEVER SKY was almost impossible for me to put down. (No kidding, I finished it in twelve hours.) If you’re a fan of sci-fi, fantasy, and all-around awesome stories, this is definitely the book for you!