Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I am only giving this book 4 to 4 1/2 stars because of some minor quibbles, which may or may not be answered in future books. But I figure I am usually generous with my ratings and if these were bothering me, then it was as sign it wasn’t 5 stars. That said, I believe there will be more in the series, although that is not implied or mentioned in any way, just the way it ended – with miles to go. It is optioned for a movie and could do well. It is a terrific dystopian SF set sometime in the future, when somethings have still been preserved, but most of the people have retreated into pods, leaving everything outside – something happened – the Aether (electrical storms as far as I can figure out) came and caused great damage to the country side, and even the pods at times, and still do. There are two types of people – the Dwellers – those who live in the enclosed pods, and the Outsides – those who live in the Death Drop, the zones outside, where they are said to be deformed, cannibals – Savages. The book starts with Aria, on her own since her mother was sent to another pod in her top secret research a few weeks before, and Aria can’t get ahold of her – the links to Bliss- that compound, are down. So she pretends to like the son of the high councilman, and goes for a “joy ride” into one of the outer pods, thinking she can lure him away and get him to ask his father about her mother – not well thought out. They don’t know the boys well, she and her best friend Paisley, and soon the boys are turning this into a dangerous adventure and doing strange things. Normally , all those but maintenance people live in the central pod which is comprised of various Realms – virtual reality places where they can live, hang out, etc. Not much is said about their life when not in the Realms – do they eat, sleep, or shower even in real life, or is all that done virtually? If so, how? Anyway, the adventure turns bad as the boys, free from restraint, go wild, and start a big fire in the Ag pod, and then the boy who she was trying to get information from decides to try and ape her. But something, or someone comes into the greenhouse pod where they are, and helps her, and drags her to safety. She is found the next day. All the rest died, except her self and the consul’s son. She had her eye-piece in the whole time – her link to the Realms, and had recorded the whole attack, but the stranger took it with him. Why he was there at that time was a mystery to be later solved. She has no proof of what happened, since her eye-piece was missing, and the consul, not wanting his son to get into trouble, sends her out, supposedly to her mother, but in reality she is dumped into the barren and harsh Outside, where she is left to fend for herself. She is in deep trouble, thinking she will die of thirst, starvation or disease, when the same stranger that helped her in the pod comes along and tried to help again, although she is mistrustful, since they have been told that all Outsides are savage, diseased, etc. But she has no choice, and he did come to help her. And so begins their journey – to safety, and then to try and find her mother in the other pod, just as the Savage is trying to find his lost nephew who was kidnapping by Insiders. Along the way, they learn secrets about each other, about themselves, and begin to understand what is going on, and how it all happened. Plenty of detail, some interesting genetic qualities, and the action is non-ceasing, and their lives are in imminent danger more than once. Meanwhile romance develops, and there are several interesting side characters. Well done book – the only quibbles were the lack of information about how these pods came to be, other than just a mention of a “Unity” whereby the pods were built and the people retreated – those who didn’t want to, stayed outside. But why? And the lack of information about what life was like in the Realms and in the central pod. How much time did they spend in the virtual world? All of it? The story starts with her in the Ag pod, and so we never get to experience normal life for her, except as seen in flashbacks. I am too curious about such details for it to go unnoticed. I want my world-building to be complete. Worth the read though.
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