Under the Never Sky deposits the reader into a disconcerting futuristic world where most of the remaining population lives partially underground in wh...moreUnder the Never Sky deposits the reader into a disconcerting futuristic world where most of the remaining population lives partially underground in what are called pods. In order to keep their sanity in such a crowded enclosed space, these Dwellers spend most of their time in virtual reality “Realms” which advanced technology has created to almost perfectly simulate life, including senses like touch and smell. Within these realms, a simple thought causes action, no need to even walk or talk, just think it and you will be doing it in these “realms.” Its absolutely fascinating.
Aria’s mother is a geneticist doing some top secret studies in a pod hundreds of miles away from their home pod “Reverie.” When their link in the Realms is suddenly broken and Aria doesn’t hear from her mother for over a week, she is determined to find out what is going on. When her search causes her to cross people in high places, she finds herself exiled from the pods and deposited on the outside, which she is sure is a death sentence. All Aria knows of the outside is that those that live out there are savages, cannibals, and who knows what else. Not to mention the unpredictable Aether storms that rain fire down onto the earth, leaveing whole stretches of land nothing but scorched desolate wastelands. In order to survive, Aria strikes a deal with one of the dreaded Outsiders with the hope that he will help her locate her mother and get herself back inside and back into the Realms which is much better than reality.
At the beginning of Under the Never Sky, the main characters, Aria and Peregrine are not very likable characters at all. Both are immature, selfish, and inconsiderate. Both have ideas about who the other is based on the things they have heard, the stories they’ve been told about “Moles” and “Savages". Aria thinks he is a mindless violent barbarian and he thinks Aria is a weak idiot. Neither of them do much to prove the other wrong for a while, both so focused on their own personal pain and intentions that the other’s needs seem inconsequential to them. Throughout their journey, however, they come to discover the value in each others strengths and learn to appreciate one another a bit more.
Peregrine, or Perry, seemed at the beginning to be an immature, impulsive, brat who threw temper tantrums when he did not get his way and made dangerous choices with no thought for the consequences to himself or others. The power struggle with his brother over establishing dominance was fascinating but it was relationship with his nephew that brought out what was good in Perry at first. His character grows so much as he begins to learn from some of the consequences of his actions. By the end of this book, I’m halfway in love with him myself. I’m typically not one to go on about the romantic aspect of a book, but this was nearly perfectly done. The author made me go from dislike, to respect, to attraction right along with Aria, so of course the romance was completely believable for me!! And it definitely gets pretty hot and heavy!! Aria also grew as a character throughout the book and I came to really like and empathize with her. But to be honest, from when Peregrine first appeared in the pages, for me, the story became all about him. He’s one of those larger than life kind of characters that seems to fill up all the space on the page even when he’s the one that says the least.
I really enjoyed the contrast of the high tech world that Aria grew up in with the almost primitive world that Perry inhabits. Those that live outside the pods have adapted to the everchanging landscape and fierce and unpredictable ether storms. Some have very primitive and animalistic features and have also developed intensified senses, such as sight (night vision), smell (can scent emotions) and auditory (can hear minute noises from long distances). Perry is one of those rare people that have two overdeveloped senses, sight and smell. For him, all emotions have a very specific scent and he can nearly determine someones thoughts by the smell they give off. Its incredibly intriguing. I hope to learn more about what occurred to cause these changes in those that live outside the pods and how that caused some people to inherit these abilities.
There is so much I could say about how incredible this book was. From the fascinating yet terrifying world to the swoon-worthy romance to the intense plot, I LOVED this book. I also truly enjoyed the secondary characters, none of whom ever fell flat and each one continued to surprise me with unanticipated layers of depth. If I have one complaint about Under the Never Sky its that it ends on a cliffhanger, nothing is actually resolved in this story which is certainly frustrating, but I liked this books so much that I’m even willing to overlook that. That awesome twist at the end makes it all worth it! Wow, I didn’t even see that one coming at all!
I think Under the Never Sky is one of the best YA dystopias I’ve read and I highly recommend it! If you like thrilling, intense, sweeping, dramatic dystopias filled with action and a bit of romance then trust me, you definitely want this incredible read on your shelf!! This is a brilliant debut by Veronica Rossi and I am simply dying to read the sequel!!(less)
Touching the Surface, from it's original storyline to the beautiful cover was a book I loved reading. Elliot's transition into the afterlife was at ti...moreTouching the Surface, from it's original storyline to the beautiful cover was a book I loved reading. Elliot's transition into the afterlife was at times poignant and bittersweet as she tried to come to terms with her life, her death, and the value of her soul. This is a story about connection, growth, and, of course, love.
The setting was fascinating. Touching the Surface is set in a place called the Obmil where those who have died "delve" into their memories to try to understand what lessons they may need to learn in order to move on. Have you ever watched the 1991 Meryl Streep movie Defending your life? Touching the Surface reminded me of a YA version of that movie which is a GREAT thing since I love that movie. While the concept and setting is similar to this movie, it is definitely it's own original feel. I love the way that the scenery, even their clothing, changes both by the characters will and inadvertently by their emotions, so an angry character might find themselves sitting in a stark landscape with thunderclouds above their head and getting rained on while someone happier, just feet away may be in a lush forest setting.
The only gripes I have with Touching the Surface is that it did become a bit love trianglish which, you know, is one of my pet peeves. But I was enjoying the story so much that this didn't take TOO much away from the story. Also, I wish I would have been able to connect more with Julia, Elliot's best friend and their relationship with one another. It was very much ON the surface and I would have liked it to have gone deeper making it feel more genuine.
Otherwise, Touching the Surface was a lovely story with a premise that's a refreshing departure from what's commonly found in YA recently. The writing was engaging, the dialog easy to follow, and the story had a relaxed evenly paced flow. It was an overall enjoyable and entertaining read. I look forward to enjoying future titles from this author. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys stories that take place in the afterlife and YA romance. (less)
UnWholly (Unwind, #2) I honestly did not enjoy UnWholly nearly half so much as I did Unwind. I'm a little disappointed about that. I don't really unde...moreUnWholly (Unwind, #2) I honestly did not enjoy UnWholly nearly half so much as I did Unwind. I'm a little disappointed about that. I don't really understand how a story with such an intense topic as Unwinding could be so utterly boring, but that is exactly what it was for the first 3/4ths of the book. The last 1/4 was much better and exactly what I was hoping for in this sequel. Unfortunately the last quarter did not make up for the majority of the book which was less than average. One of the aspects I enjoyed about this book was that each chapter began with a news report or public service announcements that gave a perspective about what living in this world would be like. For example, there are several public service announcements that talk about the people whose lives were enhanced by Unwinding and the benefits to the community. It's disturbing, but it really shows how the people in this world view things. The writing itself was very bland and lifeless for most of the book. While there were at times a bit of action taking place in the story, it was told in such a way that it was almost as thrilling as watching someone play chess while talking you through each move. There was a lot of angst and worrying and whining among the characters but I felt I had lost any connection I had with any of the characters from the first book.UnWholly nearly redeemed itself in the last quarter when all of the set up of the previous chapters finally began coming together into a coherent story. It was almost too little too late but I will likely continue on to the third book in this series solely on the strength of how much I loved Unwind.(less)
It's so crazy how just switching formats can make such a significant difference. I tried this as an ebook and just couldn't connect with it and though...moreIt's so crazy how just switching formats can make such a significant difference. I tried this as an ebook and just couldn't connect with it and thought the dialog was weak and vapid, but now listening to it on audio, I LOVED it and can't wait to start the second. Of course, a lot just depends on what I'm in the mood for too. Still, I'm glad someone encouraged me to pick this up again. Full review soon. (less)
What's Left of Me explores what it might be like to be an unwelcome guest in your own body, within your own mind. In this world, each body is born inh...moreWhat's Left of Me explores what it might be like to be an unwelcome guest in your own body, within your own mind. In this world, each body is born inhabited by two souls. By age 7, most children have "settled", meaning the recessive soul has faded away leaving only the dominant soul. When this doesn't happen, those left with two souls past puberty are considered hybrid. Hybrids are considered sick and dangerous and are sought out by the government to be hospitalized and corrected.
Addie is the dominant soul in this story, Eva the recessive. They have spent the past few years pretending that Eva has faded until a schoolmate finds out their secret. The schoolmate, Hally, and her brother Devin are also secretly hybrids as well as being foreign which means they are distrusted in the current political climate. Eva wants to trust them but Addie isn't so sure, the consequences if their secret were revealed could be deadly.
The story is told from Eva's point of view and was at times very poignant as I was forced to consider what it would be like having to constantly live in my own head pretending that I don't exist to the outside world. The relationship between Addie and Eva felt genuine and the feeling between the two was expressed beautifully in the dialog they shared. With two souls inhabiting the body of each of the characters, you would think that the story would be confusing. Surprisingly, it was not. Each soul had their own individual voice and were easily identified.
I think that Eva was an especially well written character. Her great longing to be acknowledged, her loneliness, and her genuine love for Addie was beautifully expressed and I found myself continually drawn to her.
I enjoyed the unusual storyline, the relationships between the characters, and the beautiful writing that compelled me to continue reading late into the night. If I have one complaint about What's Left of Me it is that I would have liked to have had more information about the world and why children were born with two souls and why not settling is considered so dangerous. (less)
Enchanted introduces the reader to Sunday Woodcutter, a seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, who discovers and befriends a talking frog near the fa...moreEnchanted introduces the reader to Sunday Woodcutter, a seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, who discovers and befriends a talking frog near the fairy well and begins telling him stories of her eccentric family. This family includes her rather normal father, her mother Seven, her sisters Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, her brothers Jack, Peter, and adopted brother Trix. The Woodcutter family were my favorite part of the story and I would love to read more of their adventures!
I LOVED everything about this book. Enchanted is an enchanting blend of many popular fairy tales into one whimsical feel-good story. It is sweet and charming without being syrupy. There is a bit in the middle where I got a little confused with how the story was jumping around, but all loose ends were tied up at the end.
This is the perfect story for anyone who enjoys fairy tales or for something light and fun to read in between reading a "heavier" series. (less)