Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

“She knew how to put one foot in front of the other even when every step hurt. And she knew there was pain in the journey, but there was also great beauty. She’d seen it standing on rooftops and in green eyes and in the smallest, ugliest rock.”

Aria has spent her whole life in a city inside a dome called Reverie. People are unable to survive outside the dome because of the Aether, energy that has filled the sky and created a wasteland. When Aria’s mother goes missing, she decides to do everything that she can to find her. When she begins to become a problem, she is taken outside of the dome and left to die. However, she is saved by an outsider named Perry, who is trying to rescue his nephew Talon. He suspects that Aria may be able to help him find Talon, so he agrees to help her find answers about her mother.

I have been meaning to read this book for the longest time and I’m glad that I finally was able to. Under the Never Sky is told in dual perspectives, alternating back and forth between Aria and Perry. Usually this type of narrative annoys me but in this book it worked because it allowed the reader to understand what both Aria and Perry were going through and how their situation affected each of them differently. Aria starts out being scared and unable to survive on her own but she is determined to do whatever she has to in order to find her mother, even if it means walking for miles with bleeding feet. Perry, at first, is annoyed with having to help her and how little she knows about surviving outside of the dome and he would rather be on his own. Throughout the book, however, they both undergo an amazing transformation and begin to understand what the other is going through. Aria learns how to survive and defend herself and Perry realizes that having feelings and caring for someone does not make him weak.

One of my favorite things about this book was that Aria was a talented singer. Her mother would have her sing arias for her in the Realms, which is sort of like a virtual reality that people in Reverie use to interact. As someone who also sings, I was able to relate to the feeling Aria had whenever she sang for people. I also really loved the way that the Aether caused people living outside the domes to develop enhanced senses. Some people could hear sounds that were miles away while others could see things from extreme distances. Perry’s enhanced ability of smell was very interesting also; he could tell who was near him just by their scent.

Overall, Under the Never Sky was an exciting read with great characters, romance, and even some science fiction elements. It was fantastic from start to finish and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Under the Never Sky was released January 3, 2012 and is the first book in a series. The second book, Through the Ever Night, was released yesterday, January 8, 2013 so you can guess what I’m reading now!!

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Skylark by Meagan Spooner

Skylark by Meagan Spooner

“I don’t want to be kept, not by anyone.”

Lark Ainsley is a sixteen year old girl living in a city enclosed entirely by a dome made of energy. The dome is all that protects the city from the monsters living outside in the wilderness. In order to sustain the dome, however, the city needs to harvest magical energy from its children. When it is Lark’s turn to be harvested, it is discovered that she is a Renewable and is able to regenerate her energy each time it is harvested. When she realizes that the Architects of the city intend to keep putting her through the painful harvesting process indefinitely in order to constantly use her energy, she decides to escape the only home she has ever known. She escapes into the wilderness alone in search of the Iron Wood where she hopes to find others like her.

This book had such incredible world building! I loved reading about the post-apocalyptic world that Lark traveled through to find the Iron Wood. The ways that magical energy created domes was really interesting–some domes froze the entire area under it in a specific time and others preserved an entire forest inside.

I really liked Lark; she is brave and while she does have trust issues after finding out what the Architects wanted to do to her, she learns to trust again by the end of the book. She both literally and figuratively makes a long journey from start to finish. She meets a wild boy named Oren who helps her survive even though they are both reluctant to trust each other. He is terrified of the Iron Wood and tries to convince her not to go there but Lark is set on finding others like her. Their relationship really grew throughout the book and there was a serious twist near the end that I never saw coming!

Overall, Skylark was an exciting book full of incredible world building and so many unexpected twists! I am definitely excited for the sequel, and I hope to find out more about what happened to make the world of Skylark the way it is.

Skylark was released August 1, 2012 and is the first of a series. The sequel, Shadowlark, is due to be released in 2013.

Mystic City by Theo Lawrence

“It is dangerous, this face, this boy. And not simply because he’s a mystic, though that is danger enough. He already has a hold on  me. I’m not sure if it’s attraction or fear. Or both.”

Mystic City is a fantastic debut novel by Theo Lawrence. In Mystic City, which is actually a futuristic New York City, global warming has caused the water to rise so much that the city streets are flooded. People eventually built the skyscrapers up even higher, so that the upper class of Mystic City lives above the flooded streets and travels from building to building in a sort of air train. The city is powered by energy from Mystics (people who possess magical powers) and the city is divided into East and West, with a different family ruling each side. Mystics are forced to be drained of their energy twice a year so that they are unable to revolt and use their powers on anyone else, and they are forced to live with the rest of the poor and destitute down on the flooded streets.

Aria Rose is the daughter of the ruling family on the West side of the city. She wakes up in the hospital, not knowing what has happened to her, and is told by her parents that she overdosed on mystic drugs and has amnesia. According to her parents, Aria had been carrying on a secret romance with Thomas Foster, the son of the ruling family on the East side of the city. When Aria was taken to the hospital, Thomas apparently told Aria’s parents about their relationship and that he wants to marry her. Even though the Fosters and the Roses have never gotten along, they both agree to join their families together and allow Thomas and Aria to get married. The only problem? Aria doesn’t remember even meeting Thomas, let alone carrying on a forbidden romance with him.

Aria knows that something fishy is going on and does not just take her family and Thomas’s word that she has been in love with him for months. She decides to discover the truth and find out why exactly her family is so desperate for her to marry the son of their sworn enemy. She ventures into the depths of the city for answers and meets Hunter, a rebel mystic who seems to know more about her than he’s letting on. She begins to realize that there is more at stake than just her memories and that her choices no longer affect just her, but the whole city.

Mystic City was full of fantastic plot twists and was a huge page turner. I really like Aria and how she grew from a girl who would just follow her parents’ orders without question to a girl who would defy her parents to uncover the truth. This book definitely hit home with me because global warming is becoming a bigger threat every day, and after what just happened up here with Hurricane Sandy flooding parts of Long Island and New York City it is not hard to believe that global warming could cause flooding and put the entire island of Manhattan underwater. It is definitely a scary thought and Mystic City was an interesting and frightening take on what could become of our city if it floods (magic and mystics aside). Overall this was a great debut for Lawrence and an interesting start to what promises to be a fantastic series.

Mystic City was released on October 9, 2012 and is the first of a series. The sequel, Renegade Heart, is due for release in 2013.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

“My name is Celaena Sardothien,” she whispered, “and I will not be afraid.”

Throne of Glass is a debut novel for Sarah J. Maas and what an incredible debut it is! It is a fantasy YA novel about a young assassin, Celaena, who has been serving a prison sentence at a salt mine for the past year. She is called before the Crown Prince who offers her a chance at freedom. The catch? She has to participate as his champion in a contest to find the king’s new royal assassin. 18 year old Celaena must fight against other assassins and criminals (all men) and eliminate them all in order to win the competition and her eventual freedom. Once Celaena is living in the castle the prince begins paying extra attention to her, a girl different from any other he has ever met. But she is also drawn to Captain Westfall, who is the captain of the guard and her trainer in the competition. Soon after the competition begins however, a fellow competitor ends up brutally murdered. As more competitors fall victim to the unknown killer, Celaena must search for the killer before she becomes a victim herself.

This book had everything: sword fighting, political turmoil, romance, and a kick ass heroine. Celaena had a fantastic humor and spunk that made me like her immediately. She is strong and independent and able to defeat men twice her size. However, under her tough exterior she has a softer side that is still suffering from the wounds of her past. She lost her parents at a young age, trained as an assassin most of her life, and was forced to work as a slave in a salt mine as punishment for a year. But what I love about Celaena is that she doesn’t let any of that wear her down because she is determined to achieve her freedom in order to live her life the way she wants.

I loved the fantasy elements and the romance in this book. It’s rare to find a book that has magic, a ruthless competition, a murder plot, and romance all in one (other than Harry Potter of course), but Throne of Glass delivers all of that and more. I can honestly say that this is one of the best books that I have read this year, and is definitely the best fantasy book I’ve read in awhile.

Throne of Glass was released August 7, 2012 and is the first of a series. The author also has four published novellas available on the Kindle for those of us who are already craving more!