My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Goodreads: Aria is a teenager in the enclosed city of Reverie. Like all Dwellers, she spends her time with friends in virtual environments, called Realms, accessed through an eyepiece called a Smarteye. Aria enjoys the Realms and the easy life in Reverie. When she is forced out of the pod for a crime she did not commit, she believes her death is imminent. The outside world is known as The Death Shop, with danger in every direction.
As an Outsider, Perry has always known hunger, vicious predators, and violent energy storms from the swirling electrified atmosphere called the Aether. A bit of an outcast even among his hunting tribe, Perry withstands these daily tests with his exceptional abilities, as he is gifted with powerful senses that enable him to scent danger, food and even human emotions.
They come together reluctantly, for Aria must depend on Perry, whom she considers abarbarian, to help her get back to Reverie, while Perry needs Aria to help unravel the mystery of his beloved nephew’s abduction by the Dwellers. Together they embark on a journey challenged as much by their prejudices as by encounters with cannibals and wolves. But to their surprise, Aria and Perry forge an unlikely love - one that will forever change the fate of all who live UNDER THE NEVER SKY
The first book in a captivating trilogy, Veronica Rossi’s enthralling debut sweeps you into an unforgettable adventure
My take: This is one of the best dystopias I've read in a very long time. The characters are well fleshed out and the subtle coming of minds is not forced but logical. The love story aspect is sweet and realistic. Rossi does an excellent job of describing a world that is no longer safe for human habitation. The "smart" ones entered pods generations ago that were self-contained. Small, yes, but the holographics more than make up for the lack of space. There is always food to eat, air to breathe, and entertainment to be had. And it's safe. Nobody really gets hurt.
On the outside world, there are savages that live in tribes. The pod dwellers have genetically mutated DNA that does not tolerate the fire storms that rain down. I'm guessing this is due to the huge holes in the ozone. I might also add that it has been a couple of weeks since I read this book so I am not using the correct nouns and adjectives but providing my own interpretations. Also, the DNA has naturally mutated in the savages to make them more adapted to the world outside.
So there is a catalyst that is violent and alarming (although not inappropriate for teenagers) where death follows and Aria finds herself outside the pods against her will. She's been dropped off in the desert. She expects death but is willful enough to not take it lying down. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Perry, is having troubles of his own. Gifted in mental and kinesthetic ways, he and his brother, the equivalent of a chief butt heads and Perry finds himself outside the tribe for the time being. Aria and Perry join forces and the adventures begin.
The journey they embark upon has meaning (although they are chasing different objectives). The people (?) and creatures they meet are intriguing and dangerous. Both protagonists discover things about themselves and each other. Rather than being two completely different people coming together, they are two different people who find and make commonality between them, taking on the dangers in the world and growing as individuals. There are a lot of surprising twists and turns and the fight scenes are well described.
It's not yet Hunger Games love, but it definitely could be depending on the next two books.