Wendy Darling's Reviews > Under the Never Sky

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
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Jun 28, 2011

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bookshelves: young-adult, dystopian-post-apocalyptic-utopian, read-2011, fantasy, heroines-wimpy, readalong
Read from December 15 to 31, 2011

2.5 stars My feelings on Under the Never Sky are fair to middling. Overall, it had a lot of potential, but unfortunately, I had a hard time staying interested in the story and invested in the characters. The book is one of many recent dystopian-lite novels that have been cropping up in the YA market recently, and while I don't always mind books that are less focused on the world-building as long as something else is done well, neither the characters nor the plot were so outstanding here that they could keep me fully engaged. My partner also bailed about halfway through our readalong, if that counts for anything.

Here's what I liked about the book:

--The overall concept
--Occasional humor in the writing
--Interesting shorthand for words, which makes sense in a futuristic society: "champ," "rancy," "wrathy" are all great examples of the way language might evolve or devolve, depending on how you look at it
--cool "Smarteye" technology
--a couple of interesting action sequences (view spoiler)



Here's what I didn't care for:

--The girl is much too trusting and had to be rescued over and over, to the point that you want to scream at her. She also isn't all that compelling of a protagonist, and is also occasionally very rude and rather ungrateful.
--The names. Aria (GUESS WHAT SHE DOES), Paisley, Lumina, Aria, Echo, Peregrine (view spoiler)
--Interchangeable secondary characters
--Weird things that are mentioned in passing but never really explained. Soren's underwater birthday party, no stains, not getting hurt in the Realms' virtual reality type situation, blood lords, the Tides' superhuman senses, etc.
--Rather uninspired "she did this, he did that" type of writing. Everything is explained as an afterthought and random snippets suddenly dropped, there’s no gradual lead in for it in the narrative.
--Some writing choices that didn't quite work as well as the examples in the "like" section, such as "“sweaty seaweed" or “his nephew’s temper had grown dark and damp.” Those just don't make sense to me. There were also some awkward sentences, such as "Perry woke sweated to his clothes."
--What is with all the birdish names? Peregrine, Talon, Lumina (which is a type of falcon), etc?

I came away from Under the Never Sky feeling rather aggressively indifferent to it. There were moments when the book was fairly entertaining and there were moments when I was extremely bored, so it worked out to be a pretty uneven reading experience. My partner and I really spent most of the time during the two weeks of our readalong asking questions, however. "What the HELL is aether? How is he doing this? I don't get it!" and so on and so forth, because so many things were introduced and then dropped and never explained. And even if we got answers, they didn't really provide lightbulb moments so much as a grudging concession that an attempt was made to explain something.

Overall, this book felt similar to me to Blood Red Road, Divergent, and Legend, in that they are all very much action-oriented stories. But the difference is, those books had much stronger and more memorable characters, who took initiative and made things happen. Those novels were also, for all their admitted flaws, just plain fun. For me, that element was sorely lacking in this story and I was disappointed to find that I wasn't nearly as excited about this book as many of my friends have been--and that's saying something for a book where there are cannibals.

But look! I snapped this Under the Never Sky moment at the beach in January. I do like the title quite a bit, even if I still have no idea what it means.



Random Side Notes:

There is NO WAY that what Perry thinks smells like violets actually smells like violets, no matter how advanced our society becomes. Also, I wish my skin were as velvety as a mushroom.

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.
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Reading Progress

12/16/2011 page 81
21.0% "Hmm." 10 comments
12/17/2011 page 154
40.0% "Um, I hate to break this to you, Peregrine, but it does not smell like violets. On the plus side, the cannibals have finally appeared!" 6 comments
12/18/2011 page 230
60.0% "For a boy named after a bird, Perry sure gets a lot of action." 6 comments
12/31/2011 page 344
86.0% "OH.That was sudden."
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Comments (showing 151-200 of 204) (204 new)


Wendy Darling "Bland" is the perfect way to describe it, Elena. It just needed a lot more oomph, in just about every aspect of the novel.

Thanks Laura! Maybe you'll enjoy this more than I did. That probably wouldn't be too hard though, hah. ;)


message 152: by Princess Allie (new)

Princess Allie I'm alittle bit bummed about this one. I have not bought it yet,but the resons you don't like it would be the same as mine. It's gotten great reviews with a unch of people though. So odd.


Julianna Helms Oomph. Fantastic review.


Wendy Darling I think the plethora of 4s and 5s are a little odd too, Princess, especially from friends I thought would be bothered by some of the same issues. But it just goes to show you can't predict everything with 100% accuracy, I've liked plenty of books that other people didn't! Maybe try to borrow this one before you commit to buying?

And thanks Juli. Our motto should be: more oomph, please!


Beatriz  Lins Ooh, great review, Wendy! ;D I agree with you, the author didn't really provide us answers. The writing worked for me, though :P I don't know why, but I liked the metaphors (the ones that actually made sense o.O).


Wendy Darling Hah, well...I'm glad you enjoyed it, Beatriz. I hope someone writes a long review of book two with spoilers in it so I can see if some of these things are explained. :)


Jessica i like your review, but i kind of disagree. i loved this book, i liked the characters, the plot, the writing. i may be simplistic in what i'm looking for when i read a book, but i found it a rather good read.


Wendy Darling I'm glad you enjoyed it, Jessica. As I've said several times throughout this thread, many of my friends have enjoyed it more than I have, which is great. We can't all agree all of the time!


message 159: by September (new)

September LOL Wow... that sounds like an... um... interesting read. The quotes alone, well I'm impressed you finished the book. On the other hand, when quotes are that strange they almost become entertaining in their own right. :D

As always, thanks for your great review. :)


Wendy Darling I'm glad the review was useful Christina. ;) It really wasn't a terrible book at all, just not really to my taste. Some of the quotes are really odd, though.


Julianna Helms Wendy Darling wrote: "Some of the quotes are really odd, though."

*goes into a coughing fit*

Oh. Sorry.

*stops coughing*

*remembers some of the quotes*

*coughs again*


Wendy Darling Oh, you. ;)


BlueLilyxLilyBlue too bad. :(
I was thinking about reading this book next. :(


message 164: by [deleted user] (new)

Great review, Darling, as always. This was one book I really wanted to like because I'd seen such high ratings for it when I read it, but I had too many issues with it.


Jasprit Great review Wendy, it's a shame you didn't like this one :( btw that pic is gorgeous! :)


Wendy Darling Well, you may certainly like it more than I did, Sandee! Maybe give it a go at the library? You just never know.

Thanks Ace, I thought I'd like this one much more than I did, too. I agreed with your review as well; it's very peculiar how few ratings there are that aren't 4s and 5s.

And thanks, Jasprit! It was a disappointment for sure, at least for me. I'm very curious to see what you'll think of this one.


Gwenyth Love Sorry to hear you didn't like this one Wendy! Although I didn't "love" it, I did enjoy it quite a bit.


message 168: by Scribs (new) - rated it 3 stars

Scribs YES! CHEERS ON YOUR REVIEW! Thank you for pointing out everything I saw in it as well. Now I feel justified in my own review!


Wendy Darling Well, I will have to check out your review of the sequel to find out what happens, Gwenyth. :) I am kind of curious to see whether all those bird names actually signified something.

And hah, thanks Tiffany. It's nice to have at least a small amount of company in my mixed feelings about this book! Sometimes I feel like odd man out at the party. ;)


message 170: by Sandy (new) - added it

Sandy Lovely photo, Wendy. I'm impressed.


message 171: by Angela (new) - rated it 3 stars

Angela Sandy wrote: "Lovely photo, Wendy. I'm impressed."

Ditto what Wendy said. That photograph is beautiful.

Also, on a side note, what's a Lumina falcon? As a birder, I've never heard of it before.


message 172: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo Wendy, you always write a thoughtful review :-)


Wendy Darling Angela, I did a bunch of googling when I read this book with my partner and found a site referencing "lumina" as a type of falcon, but I can't seem to find it right now. (I know it was also the name of a Chevy back in the day, hah.) I'll let you know if I find it!

Thanks, Anne. :)


message 174: by Angela (new) - rated it 3 stars

Angela @Wendy: Hah. Maybe it's just a car that flies away. ;)


Wendy Darling Heh. If only it would take all the bird boys with it!


message 176: by Angela (new) - rated it 3 stars

Angela Wendy Darling wrote: "Heh. If only it would take all the bird boys with it!"

Heheheheh.


message 177: by Mel (new)

Mel I just saw the trailer and I thought that it looks interesting, but now I'm not so sure I want to make this my next read, or the next one after that. Thanks for the review.


message 178: by [deleted user] (new)

Love this review. Exactly how I felt about the book.


Wendy Darling My pleasure, Mel. It's pretty interesting to see the different reactions to this one, it definitely wasn't as good as I thought it would be.

And thanks, Megan! Most people seem to love this, so it's good to find another person who feels the same "meh" way.


message 180: by Gunne (new) - rated it 2 stars

Gunne Nice that you pointed out the birdish names. It didn't occur to me until you said so (I know, I feel silly). I mean, the author even pointed out that Aria sings the falcon soprano! I'd like to know what's with the birdish stuff as well.

I don't know about you, but I got a little annoyed by Perry's "powers". I've always preferred some ambiguity and subtlety in relationships, and having Perry being able to smell her tempers and moods and emotions quickly made the relationship boring and too straightforward. There was no guessing, no chase, nothing. And when he says she smells like violets, does he actually mean she's smelling her period? Because... ew. I had a deja vu moment of Edward Cullen there.

I'm also not sure if I like that this book has been set-up to be a series. I have nothing against cliff hangers, but there were too many loose ends in this one. Why is Cinder able to channel the aether? Do they ever find the Still Blue? What's going to happen to Talon? I'd prefer a tighter book that answered those questions, if only she could cut the first half of the book because it was uninteresting, to put it mildly.


Victoria Best review of Under the Never Sky, Wendy! I agree with all points on your review. The characters were okay, but not very compelling and exciting to read about and there were so many questions that were left unanswered. This book was very confusing for me too. I am glad someone feel the same way.


Wendy Darling Oh, thanks Victoria! I found this such a disappointment--it isn't a bad book by any means, but it fell short in just about every category, at least for me. We seem to be in the minority though, so many people seem to love this one!


message 183: by Lisa (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lisa I had to unlike this review so I could like it again. I think the main problem was the characters and the fact that I didn't care about them. Also, I found the world building, including the science, to be very sketchy.


Wendy Darling Hah, thanks Lisa. I didn't really care about these characters at all, either, and frankly, pretty much everything about this book was sketchy. The more distance I have from it, the less highly I think of it.


message 185: by Aria (new) - rated it 4 stars

Aria Draconfly I love dystopian novels, and was thrilled this one had a main character that shared my name, and I think I like it more then I should because of that, but I do agree with most of your review. But as an Aria who sings opera, I don't find it that much of a stretch that she does as well.


Wendy Darling I probably wouldn't have nitpicked on that detail if I was a bigger fan of the rest of the book, Aria. How cool that you found a book whose heroine shares your name, though!


message 187: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo Wendy, you always write good reviews! Another book that my girls in the book club will read. ;D


message 188: by Hannah (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hannah I'm not finished with this one yet but I definitely agree with everything you said. This book has just enough interesting elements to keep me reading but the writing just seemed somehow...off i guess, if that makes sense. Perry's POV was written more smoothly than Aria's but it still feels choppy and awkward. (And I HATE HATE HATE Perry's name...)


message 189: by P.E. (new) - rated it 3 stars

P.E. I just finished it and I felt the same way. Great review btw- you explains yourself way better than I did when I tried to write a review. Nothing in the book ever stood out to me. :/


Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!* Amazing review as always, Wendy! I totally agree. This book was pretty much just a big "meh" for me. I thought the premise was cool, but the execution was flawed ... I disliked both the main characters and I didn't feel anything towards them. The names were annoying. Nothing was explained clearly. And, YES THIS:

"There is NO WAY that what Perry thinks smells like violets actually smells like violets, no matter how advanced our society becomes. Also, I wish my skin were as velvety as a mushroom."

When he said her period smelled like violets I was like, "HAHAHA ... I must have read that wrong." But, no. O_o


message 191: by Maria (new) - rated it 4 stars

Maria Paisley - what a pansy name! LOL. But i did like Never Sky in the end, Wendy. :) Never mind that the first half was infuriating. great rev!


Wendy Darling Hannah--I agree, I like Perry's POV chapters better than Aria's. I also dislike his name, hah.

P.E. at Tantalizing Illusions wrote: "Nothing in the book ever stood out to me. :/"

Yes. :( It had a couple of nice moments, but no more than that for me, too. Such a disappointment.

I didn't feel anything for the character either, Bridgit, other than annoyance at Aria! Execution was definitely flawed. So many people love this book, though, that I'm glad that I'm not alone in how I feel about this book. ;)

Heh, you made me laugh, Maria. And I'm glad you enjoyed it, even we violently disagree this time. :D


message 193: by Maria (new) - rated it 4 stars

Maria Hey, there's always the second book, so i hope we agree on that. :)

thanks, Wendy!


message 194: by Chelsea (new) - added it

Chelsea I got this from the library yesterday. Started the first chapter today and I AM SO CONFUSED! haha.


message 195: by Elaine (new) - rated it 2 stars

Elaine Sigh, I wanted to love this book so badly, but it just fell short. I blame the covers as usual.


message 196: by Abi (new) - rated it 3 stars

Abi Agreed! I was waffling between 2 and 3. It was solidly "fine."


message 197: by Sai (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sai To the Random Side Note: EXACTLY! Just NO WAY.


Marishka Valentine I found myself just as annoyed with Aria. "Here, love, we're really kind, awesome people that want to feed you. We're totally not creepy looking people and you've totally not been warned about people like us. So 'mere, you purty thing." Over and over! And she didn't seem to learn very much from that experience! Ah well...


Kaitlyn While I really enjoyed this book I have to agree with the "What the hell is aether?" question. I don't feel like that was ever really explained. Best I can figure it is some kind of liquid lightening.


message 200: by Buonaraya (new) - added it

Buonaraya I should've read your review and saved myself the trouble.


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