Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi -- Series Review, or The Time Veronica Rossi Taught Us About Grief.

As usual, the overall series review below will be as spoiler-free as possible, but there WILL BE SPOILERS for each book in it's own section.

As most of my series reviews have started, I was pretty late to the game on this series, but not because I didn't own them. In fact, I've had the first book since before the second book came out. But I just kept putting it off because the description didn't seem like a book I would enjoy.

Ok, so the description for this book is literally the most off-putting thing, and I'm very upset with whoever wrote it. If this description had made more sense, or been less overloaded I would have read it sooner. About three years ago. But I just bought the last book a few weeks ago, so I decided to marathon the series. This has been a wonderful decision that has stolen my sleep, my attention, and ability to care for myself. I haven't been able to do anything but devour these books.

This story was pretty original, and the romance was one of the best I have ever read. The set up and actions are realistic, and Aria is a strong main character that makes a positive role model. She doesn't wait to be rescued--and doesn't ask to be. She stands along side the men in this series, and other strong women.

Finally, the relationships in this story were some of the best I have ever read in my life--not just the romantic relationships, but all of them--the friendships and negative relationships too. The enemies that Aria made were just as well-written as her friends, and that takes an amazing amount of skill on Rossi's part.

I probably won't recap the plot as I go, because this is a fairly well-known series, and I will link the titles to the Goodreads description.

Pre-Spoilers, Overall Rating:
 
I would give this series, as a whole, a 5/5 STARS.
 
I went into this series thinking I would not like it--based on the description, and the way I've heard it explained to me, even by people who love it. However, the survival elements were well-written, the characters were realistic and people you wanted to follow, and the premise was a gripping one. 




UNDER THE NEVER SKY

Like I said, I've had this book on my TBR forever, and have heard amazing things from other reviewers and Booktubers, but the description just didn't pull me in and make me want to read this book, but after I purchased the last book in the series, I decided to go ahead and read them. This was a decision that I did not regret pretty much right after starting the first book. I will admit that the first two chapters threw me--mainly because, like I said, I didn't expect an almost rape and a kind of murder in the first hundred pages. But, my God. It was all so well-written that I couldn't stop reading. For me, the premise of this series is not a super original one, but it is an amazing and original take on a classic premise. The upper-class and privileged girl meets the underprivileged, hardworking, tortured boy, they fall in love. There are challenges, etc. There are songs, sonnets, and books and movies galore. But Rossi has created a world with such amazing follow-through that I can hardly express how pleased I was with it when I finished the first book.
 
Sometimes I think that I use and read reviews involving the phrase "insta-love" so much that I start to question whether there are books out there that don't contain it. But then a book, like this one, comes along, and I am reminded of how a romantic element should be written. The timing, tone, and emotion of the relationship in this book are absolute perfection. I think this because the two characters are strong, realistic, and thoroughly written, and help provide the basis for this amazing relationship. The same goes for the friendships that build throughout. They are also amazingly well-done and some of the most real relationships in the YA genre.
 
I struggled to put this book down. I didn't want to take a break from the action, or Aria and Perry. Overall, I gave this book 5/5 STARS. I loved it.


 

THROUGH THE EVER NIGHT

If the first book in this series was perfection, the second book completely redefined that term. This was my favorite installment in the series. This book was the main example of the previous statements about perfectly written friendships--Roar and Aria are amazing. To walk away from a 100% platonic relationship, with no romantic shipping, is a very, very rare thing, and I believe it can only be accomplished because of Rossi's talent.
 
Also on the subject of Rossi's talent--I cannot say enough how much I appreciate when these characters are in a REAL WORLD and BAD. THINGS. HAPPEN. Not, "aw shucks, this is happening, but here's an immediate magical fix," but true, dirty, raw awful shit goes down that just...sucks! And these characters SURVIVE! I adore it. It makes my life. It's why I keep reading. And if I thought the world-building was captivating and well-rounded in the first book, boy was I wrong. I can picture every aspect, every action, and even the tiniest peripheral characters. I suggest making it a point to pick up anything Veronica Rossi even TOUCHES in the future.
 
Needless to say, 5/5 STARS! Amazing. This is why that word was invented. 




INTO THE STILL BLUE

This the book in the series that I thought I would enjoy the least, because I knew it was the end. And, while it wasn't my favorite in the series overall, that was the second book, within this book Veronica Rossi wrote something that truly...God, this sounds poetic and dumb, but truly spoke to my heart.

I haven’t really made a secret of the fact that my mother died suddenly less than months ago, and I’ve really struggled to put into words how it feels to carry on, and try to remember she’s not here anymore when all I want is to be able to call her on the phone. But I have to say that Veronica Rossi, though it may not have been her intention, has written the absolute perfect description of grief. And I thank her for it.

“Liv is alive in my peripheral vision. When I’m not thinking about her…when she’s just past the point where I can see her, it feels like she’s still there…But when I look right at here, I remember she’s gone.”
I started reading this series just a few weeks after my Mom passed away, and just days after returning to the home my husband and I share after staying at my parent's house about an hour away in order to help pack some things, rearrange some things, etc. with/for my dad and brother who still live in the home I grew up in. And when I read the portions about Liv's death I didn't connect with their grief really, I remained aware that there were similarities, etc., but I wasn't emotional about the death...until I read this line.
I'm crying as I write this, and I know that this last section hasn't been about the book at all, and I'm sorry for that, but like I said, this is a pretty well-known, and highly-regarded series, for good reason, and all book reviews should add their own voice and perspective to the discussion, and this is mine. I want to thank Veronica Rossi for this wonderful insight that has meant so much to me as I adapt to a life where my mom was 'in my phone,' where I called her every day, and where it has been such a struggle to put in to words the emotions I have that I can't call her, and there are lots of moments where I can forget that there will be no one to answer the phone if I try.
Ok, that rambling awfulness is over, and overall, I gave this book a 5/5 STARS. Not just because it contained the line that personified my grief and that I repeat in the back of my mind pretty much every day, but because it was just as well-written and great as the rest of the series.
If you haven't read this series, I highly recommend it. I was blown away. 
 

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