Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Under the Never Sky
Veronica Rossi
2012, 376 pgs

Book Summary from Goodreads



Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she’s never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.

Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He’s searching for someone too. He’s also wild – a savage – but might be her best hope at staying alive.

If they can survive, they are each other’s best hope for finding answers.

My Summary

Under the dome of Reverie, most of life experiences take place in the Relms – a virtual reality.  They live under the dome because of the Aether – which is never explained.  Aria’s mother is a scientist, living in a different Dome then Aria.  After a week of no communication with her mother, Aria does something that results in her being dropped into the outer wasteland where she believes she will die due to the Aether – again very minimal explanation.

In the Outer wasteland people live in tribes.  Some of them also have super senses – hearing (Aud), sight (Seer), or smell (Scire).  They allude that these heightened senses are from  selective breeding before the Aethers and that the Aethers accelerated the anomalies, but it’s never fully explained either.

When Aria is dropped in the outer wasteland she meets Perry.  They dislike each other on site, Aria because Perry is a “savage” and Perry because Aria is a “dweller”, but need each other to get what they both want.  Aria wants to get back into the Dome and Perry wants to get his nephew, who was kidnapped out.

I was really frustrated by this book the first third or so because so much of the world building was really vague.  What is the Aether, what caused the Aether, what exactly does the Aether do….  So much is unexplained that I found annoying. 

But there are so many elements of the book I enjoyed.  I liked Aria and Perry.  Aria handles her change in circumstances with an appropriate level of fear, but she has the courage to forge on.  Perry is tough, protective of those around him, but has a level of sensitivity that I appreciated.  I liked that Perry and Aria’s relationship wasn’t YA instalove.  Even once they got over their mutual dislike they didn’t immediate jump into togetherness – the relationship grew.

I also really liked the element of some of the Outsiders having enhanced senses – I just wish it had been more fully explained. 

Overall when I finished this book my frustration with the lack of explanation was my main focus.  It’s been about 3 weeks now since I finished it and I’m appreciating it more in hindsight – thinking about the parts of the story I do know and how much I liked Aria and Perry.  I will definitely continue reading this series.

7 out of 10 stars

Other Reviews

All the Books I Can Read

The Broke and The Bookish


You Against Me by Jenny Downham

You Against Me
Jenny Downham
2010, 413 pgs

Book Summary from Goodreads

If someone hurts your sister and you’re any kind of man, you seek revenge, right? If your brother’s been accused of a terrible crime and you’re the main witness, then you banish all doubt and defend him. Isn’t that what families do? When Mikey’s sister claims a boy assaulted her at a party, his world of work and girls begins to fall apart. When Ellie’s brother is charged with the crime, but says he didn’t do it, her world of revision, exams and fitting in at a new school begins to unravel. When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide. Brave and unflinching, this is a novel of extraordinary skillfulness and almost unbearable tension. It’s a book about loyalty and the choices that come with it. But above all it’s a book about love – for one’s family and for another

My Summary

I read this a couple weeks ago and I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about it.

The story is told a few chapters at a time from Mikey’s perspective and then from Ellie’s.  I spent the first couple perspective changes trying to keep an open mind and not choose sides and realized that was never going to work.  I just wasn’t going to be able to commit to the book unless I committed to thinking Tom was innocent or guilty.

So I picked a side and was able to get into the book and it wasn’t too long after choosing that the author started to give clues that I picked the right one.

I like books with flawed main characters – they are more relate-able.  Both Mikey and Ellie are flawed, but everything they do that’s wrong is an effort to try to defend family. 

Mikey feels like he failed to protect his sister so decides on revenge instead and that’s how he meets Ellie.  They connect somewhat quickly even with all the baggage between them and their relationship was believable.

The things I didn’t like about this book (in list form):

Karyn – Mikey’s sister and Tom’s accuser is barely in the book and that felt wrong.  And her switch from depressed to recovered felt WAY too quick.

Ellie’s father is a total caricature.  Totally one dimensional.

Now that I think about it – there weren’t any secondary characters that I liked.  Ellie’s mom improved a little at the end, but for the most part everyone really bugged me.

Spoilerish (highlight to read) – I’m not going to say which, but at the end of the book, either Mikey or Ellie has to stop protecting the lying sibling.  And if I were in that position I don’t think I could do it.  Ever

7 out of 10

The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg

The Catastrophic History of You and Me         
Jess Rothenberg
2012, 400 pgs                         

Book Summary from Goodreads

Dying of a broken heart is just the beginning…. Welcome to forever.

BRIE’S LIFE ENDS AT SIXTEEN: Her boyfriend tells her he doesn’t love her, and the news breaks her heart—literally.

But now that she’s D&G (dead and gone), Brie is about to discover that love is way more complicated than she ever imagined. Back in Half Moon Bay, her family has begun to unravel. Her best friend has been keeping a secret about Jacob, the boy she loved and lost—and the truth behind his shattering betrayal. And then there’s Patrick, Brie’s mysterious new guide and resident Lost Soul . . . who just might hold the key to her forever after.

With Patrick’s help, Brie will have to pass through the five stages of grief before she’s ready to move on. But how do you begin again, when your heart is still in pieces?

My Summary

Emotionally, Brie was a totally believable teenager.  Everything is life or death – I think that’s what drew me to this premise so much – obviously having your first love break up with you is not fatal, but everything feels so much worse as a teenager. 

“Love is no game. People cut their ears off over this stuff. People jump off the Eiffel Tower and sell all their possessions and move to Alaska to live with the grizzly bears, and then they get eaten and nobody hears them when they scream for help. That’s right. Falling in love is pretty much the same thing as being eaten alive by a grizzly bear.”

I loved how much Brie worried/cared about her younger brother.  They had the exact same age difference as I do with my brother so I could identify.  The scenes where Brie got to get a little payback were funny and I know that I would have enjoyed that opportunity (especially in high school).

Patrick (her guide) is the right mix of mystery and supportive.  He’s almost a combined good boy and bad boy all rolled into one.   Brie also had some cute one-liners (usually when talking to Patrick)

“There’s no such thing as too much Disney.”

 “News flash, Bozo. Don’t ever tell a girl to relax. It only makes us madder.”

I can’t really put my finger on what was missing in this one for me, but I just thought it was cute.  I read it in two sittings (started at 9:00 PM read for 2 hours, slept, and then picked it up again) so I really wanted to know what happen.  And it did manage to surprise me – one of the twists I did see coming, but the other caught me off guard, but I thought it was cool.

Basically a cute novel that felt like it didn’t quite live up to the potential of it’s premise. 

7 out of 10 stars

“Looking for Alaska” and “Paper Towns” by John Green

Paper Towns                           Looking for Alaska
John Green                             John Green
2008, 305 pgs                         2006, 221 pgs
Library                                   Purchase Kindle

“Looking for Alaska” Book Summary from Goodreads

Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.

Looking for Alaska brilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another. A stunning debut, it marks John Green’s arrival as an important new voice in contemporary fiction

“Paper Towns” Book Summary from Goodreads

When Margo Roth Spiegelman beckons Quentin Jacobsen in the middle of the night – dressed like a ninja and plotting an ingenious campaign of revenge – he follows her. Margo’s always planned extravagantly, and, until now, she’s always planned solo. After a lifetime of loving Margo from afar, things are finally looking up for Q . . . until day breaks and she has vanished. Always an enigma, Margo has now become a mystery. But there are clues. And they’re for Q. Printz Medalist John Green returns with the trademark brilliant wit and heart-stopping emotional honesty that have inspired a new generation of readers.

My Summary

Parallels abound in these two books.  I wish I had read them at least a few months apart – I still would have noticed but I don’t think it would have been quite as distracting.  I read “Looking forAlaska” a few weeks ago on a Saturday and really enjoyed it. I read “Paper Towns” a few days later and it felt like I was reading the same characters.  Miles=Quentin, Alaska=Margo,  Colonel=Ben, etc. 

I also wish I had written my review for “Looking for Alaska” before reading “Paper Towns” because now it’s impossible to separate them in my mind.  So here are just a few bullet points of what I liked

  • John Green’s characters have dimension – hobbies that are interesting and not typical, real conversations, and annoying habits. 
    • Miles in “Looking for Alaska” memorized famous people’s last words.
    • Alaska/Margo/Colonel planned elaborate pranks that required planning and were really funny.
  • Both books made me laugh out loud.  I want to put quotes in here, but I don’t want to ruin the reading experience for anyone else.
  • The boys (not the main character) fixation with Prom in “Paper Towns”.  It was funny to think guys really cared.
  • “Paper Towns” made me think about how much of what I see in other people is just a reflection of myself.  “Looking for Alaska” make me think about life/death – which seems cliché to write that in print, but didn’t feel that way to read it
  • The chants/cheers the Colonel led at the Basketball games in “Looking for Alaska”.  AWESOME!
  • Both books have moments that point out where girls are being objectified. 

So how to rate these books?  I think I would have given “Looking forAlaska” a 7 or 8 on Saturday.  But I think if I had read “Paper Towns” first I’d have given it an 8 or 9, but since I read it second and it was SO similar to “Looking for Alaska” my enjoyment was probably closer to a 6-7. 

First of these two that you read – 8.5 out of 10 stars
Second that you read               – 7 out of 10 stars