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Monday, February 20, 2012

"Under the Never Sky" by Vernoica Rossi ~ An Aurora Borealis of a Novel!

Published by :  Harper Collins
Pages:  276
Genre:  YA Fiction/Syfy

Cover Rating :
Syfy, absolutely, with its raised and silvery title front and center.  Not very turned on by the stick-figure of a girl walking out of an unattractive bramble of huge grapevines with hollywood lights panning skies behind her. Don't get that symbolism.  Veronica Rossi's name could have used more "press." This isn't a very appealing cover and it doesn't tell us much even with the small header about dying...  Rated:  C

Taken from:  VOYA
When Aria, seventeen, a Dweller from the main pod of Reverie—a community formed during the Unity for inhabitants' safety— is expelled and abandoned to the Death Shop, her future appears bleak until rescue comes via Peregrine, a Savage or Outsider. Each has something the other wants; they strike an uneasy truce before journeying across dangerous wastelands on a quest. The story unfolds in a grippingly dystopian future, where heavens roil with the electrical Aether and occasionally rain funnels fire onto the ground; where Outsiders battle daily for survival—those Marked with a dominant Sense have some advantage; and where Dwellers enjoy easy comfort with abundant food and endless entertainment in virtual Realms—accessed with thought through the Smarteye device worn by all inhabitants. "Better than Real," the Realms offer richly vibrant sensory experiences in multi-dimensional virtual worlds, preferable to the Middle Gray of pod life. Contrasts between the Dwellers' carefully engineered existence and the Outsiders' primitive battles for survival, where even mating is left to chance, illustrate the divergent path each culture took and allow readers to compare these with 21st-century life and contemplate the consequences of present day decisions. The interwoven narratives of both male and female protagonists offer broad appeal; the plot allows for a sequel set in a rumored location with visible skies called the Still Blue. Already selling in more than twenty countries and with film rights optioned by Warner Bros. Entertainment, Rossi's first novel has the potential to be a blockbuster. Libraries, stock up to meet circulation demand. Reviewer: Cynthia Winfield

The Dame's Review :
My heart is still beating fast after having just put down this book.  It is a mixed bag of a novel, so hold on to your horses as I try to convey to you what you might hope to find in it!  

This isn't a book you can just breeze into and expect to put nothing into to get something out of.  It's a book that demands a little thinking and some work on our part. In most cases I can only understand that if I think the author warrants that kind of respect.  That is; if after having read a chapter or so of her work, I feel I can allow her a piece of my time. Or, if I know the author from reading one of her previous works.  I found Veronica Rossi to be a respectable author, I allowed her the time.

Having said that, if you will allow for the ground work that must be laid for the story, you will be drawn into a multifaceted tale of dystopian terror and survival...wilderness and survival...and hope for a future of survival.   It's also a love story with burrs.  It's edgy and hard sometimes, and I loved the rough characters with their savage hearts.   Beautifully written, imaginative and explosive dystopian novel with a heart!

Rossi has an amazing ability to imagine a world where one segment of mankind is encapsulated in technology for survival, never actually living in a real world anymore, and one segment is left to survive with their wits and instincts in a somewhat failing environment; both, subjected to natural catastrophes that can't be controlled: vicious weather patterns  and viral strains that travel and mutate through the air.  Of course, as in many dystopian novels, we can only imagine what has caused this breakdown in the world's environment.  (Note to Selves!)

What kept me glued to the pages of this book was my love for the female character Rossi created.  Aria, the young girl who is thrown from her safe "Dweller's" environment, into the "Death Shop" to die or survive, is a fabulous creation.  She's wise, brave and quick-witted, learning how to survive with the help of Perry, an Outsider "Savage," who begrudgingly becomes her companion in a chase to return to her Pod. She wants to find her mother, and he wants to get his nephew back.  Aria maintains a sense of herself and her independence though she's far outside her element.  She's never been on the "outside," and she's never felt pain or experienced fear before.  She learns survival skills willingly and with dedication in an effort to help others and to get back home. Rossi brings us through the awakening of Aria as a young woman and a warrior.  She's the Eve of a Brave New World.

It's always such a joy ride for me when I find an author who champions a young woman as a strong warrior, one who is easily as capable or more so, than her male companions.  Aria is also a gifted singer, and she has the heart of a woman.  Her love, courage and perseverance made this novel enjoyable for me.  I found myself cheering for her all the way.  Wondering if I would have been as strong in her circumstances.  Fearing I wouldn't be.

I thoroughly enjoyed all the other characters as well, especially Perry ~ who wouldn't fall in love with an oceanic, tangle-haired blond, green-eyed hunk with a falcon tatooed to his muscular back?  :]  Not to mention his tender heart and his ability to sense everything you wanted...  And, that he'd fight to the death for you...  Need I say more???   Other characters I loved like Roar, a charming George Clooney-type who's gorgeous, has the Audie gift of hearing, and is Perry's sworn friend; Marron, an Elton-Johnish privateer who loves "antiques," offers safety and befriends Perry and all; and Cinder, a churlish little boy who channels the firey, Aether skies.   There are so many interesting and obnoxious creatures in this otherworld of Veronica Rossi's, you'll love to read about them.

I agree with the synopsis above, there's no wonder Warner Bros. has opted this for the screen.  It's a fabulous novel with great heart.  Veronica Rossi is a wonderful writer of this genre.  I would certainly buy anything else she wrote.

All that being said, I have to give the book a lesser literary rating than I would ordinarily.  The reason is because it does drag at the beginning, and it did take some time before I became involved with the characters.  When I asked myself why I stuck with the book, it only had to be that the writing held promise as I mentioned before.

I do recommend "Under the Never Sky" with the caution that you may need to give some patience to the book at first.  But, if you will be patient, this novel will transport you like few ever do.

4 stars


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