What's an old guy like me doing reading a futuristic YA novel?
I knew going in what a magnificent writer my friend and former critique partner Veronica Rossi is. Even so, Under the Never Sky exceeded my highest expectations. I found it stunningly beautiful both in concept and execution. The two "star" characters, Aria and Peregrine (Perry), immediately won my heart with their core strength and fragile hold on life in a wildly threatening world environment (the book cover doesn't exaggerate: "A million ways to die"). The supporting characters are wonderful and richly textured, each in their own unique way.
As an older reader, what I appreciated most was Rossi's emphasis on the senses of sight, hearing, taste, and smell, plus the clear intuition of others' feelings--be they friends or enemies. In an age when we get more and more of our information and social experience digitally (as Aria does, before venturing out in search of her lost mother), it's hopeful to think that our distant future might see a return of humanity to reliance on gifts genetically inherited. Having said all that, I've barely touched on the multiple layers of meaning and insight this tale offers.
I read a lot of novels every year. Many are R-and-F stories (read-and-forget). I classify Under the Never Sky as R-and-P (read-and-ponder). Young adults picking up this book--the first in a trilogy--will get more than a good read. Rossi has provided a compass for honorable living and loving. As the full cover blurb puts it: "A million ways to die. One way to live." I can't wait to see the Warner Brothers film version.
Five Stars!! Read it.
Alfred J. Garrotto is the author of the suspense novel,
The Saint of Florenville: A Love Story.