Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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Aria is a teenager in the enclosed city of Reverie. Like all Dwellers, she spends her time with friends in virtual environments, called Realms, accessed through an eyepiece called a Smarteye. Aria enjoys the Realms and the easy life in Reverie. When she is forced out of the pod for a crime she did not commit, she believes her death is imminent. The outside world is known as The Death Shop, with danger in every direction.
As an Outsider, Perry has always known hunger, vicious predators, and violent energy storms from the swirling electrified atmosphere called the Aether. A bit of an outcast even among his hunting tribe, Perry withstands these daily tests with his exceptional abilities, as he is gifted with powerful senses that enable him to scent danger, food and even human emotions.
They come together reluctantly, for Aria must depend on Perry, whom she considers a barbarian, to help her get back to Reverie, while Perry needs Aria to help unravel the mystery of his beloved nephew’s abduction by the Dwellers. Together they embark on a journey challenged as much by their prejudices as by encounters with cannibals and wolves. But to their surprise, Aria and Perry forge an unlikely love - one that will forever change the fate of all who live UNDER THE NEVER SKY
Aria, aptly named for her beautiful singing voice, goes on what seems like a harmless adventure with some friends in an attempt to get information about her mother. When things go awry, Aria is saved by a stranger who doesn't belong and then kicked out of Reverie to hide the involvement of the Counsel's son. Abandoned in the "Death Shop," Aria is sure that she is going to die on the outside...until an Outsider comes and saves her...again.
Aria was a fierce character who I loved seeing essentially grow up throughout this novel. She's trust into a world that's strange and terrifying yet enticing. She experiences so many firsts on the Outside, from seeing the Aether for real for the first time to becoming a woman. She comes across as a naive but I think that supports her sheltered upbringing, where her mother's research was hidden from her and she basically lived in virtual Realms without real feelings and experiences.
In contrast, Perry is a character hardened by real-world loss and struggle. His parents are dead, his nephew is dying, and his tribe is starving. Saving Aria's life costs him a lot when his nephew is kidnapped by the Dwellers and Perry is estranged from the tribe as a result. His hardened exterior hides a good heart though, as evidenced from the very beginning when he saves Aria from the fires in Ag 6. He tends to run hot and cold with Aria--a result of the ongoing battle between his head and his heart.
In terms of their relationship, I liked it a lot. I enjoyed the progression from survival allies to friends to more. I thought that it was well done and didn't develop unusually fast. It's also not surprising seeing as how they had to struggle to survive together and battled through so much. That kind of togetherness is bound to create a deep connection, despite (or possibly because of) the odds stacked against them. I felt like their trust in each other had a long way to develop from their first meeting and there wasn't a *BAM* we're in love moment--it was a gradual realization of feelings that just sort of developed.
I know it's early in the year and there are a lot of January releases vying for your attention and love, but I highly recommend that you put Under the Never Sky into your reading queue as soon as possible. Fans of dystopias will fall in love with Rossi's world-building and devour this book. The contrast that she creates between life in the domes and life on the Outside is phenomenal and I still can't get over the imagery that is evoked through the writing in this one. Truly stunning debut novel.