Friday, August 1, 2014

Book review: Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky #2) by Veronica Rossi

Plot summary from Goodreads below. Beware spoilers for the first book in the series.

"It's been months since Aria learned of her mother's death.

Months since Perry became Blood Lord of the Tides, and months since Aria last saw him.

Now Aria and Perry are about to be reunited. It's a moment they've been longing for with countless expectations. And it's a moment that lives up to all of them. At least, at first.

Then it slips away. The Tides don't take kindly to former Dwellers like Aria. And the tribe is swirling out of Perry's control. With the Aether storms worsening every day, the only remaining hope for peace and safety is the Still Blue. But does this haven truly exist?

Threatened by false friends and powerful temptations, Aria and Perry wonder, Can their love survive through the ever night?"

Under the Never Sky introduced us to Aria, Perry, and a handful of secondary characters. It detailed the world that these characters live in, and established that there is, if not a full-on conflict, a lack of respect between Dwellers (the people who live in the pods) and Outsiders. In Through the Ever Night, we delve further into the psyches of our two leads, and get to spend more time getting to know some of the secondaries. This second book in the series also sets the stage for what will prove to be the true conflict: humans vs. humans.

It's frequently suggested that underneath all of the conceptual pageantry, dystopian novels aim to explore issues that are relevant to present circumstances or to ostensible future circumstances. These books are all about the division of resources: land, food, weaponry, technology -- who gets it and who doesn't? The pods had limited geographical space, so the number of the population who lived inside was regulated. Within, they were about to provide infinite necessary resources. Outside, everything is limited and getting worse as the Aether scorches more and more land and renders it un-useable. On a lark that there is another tribe leader who knows of a place called the Still Blue, where there is no Aether in the sky, Aria and her friend Roar (as Perry is occupied leading his tribe) venture to speak with said tribe leader, Sable. Suffice it to say that their meeting with Sable begins the impetus for upending the previous societal structure of Dwellers sequestered in their pods and tenuous peace between the tribes. There's a lot of backstory I'm glossing over, but I want to build on what I mentioned in my last review regarding Rossi handling the dystopian/post-apocalyptic human element in a realistic way. Her thesis in Under the Never Sky seems to be that humans have a survival instinct, and that manifests in some groups differently than others. Some will choose to create a new environment that mimics how they were previously comfortable, and some will adapt to their new surroundings. In Through the Ever Night, though the environment grows increasingly ominous, I appreciated the transition to human conflict and how the story is now more and more exploring the tension between groups that have evolved completely different lifestyles based on those survival instincts. This is exactly what we experience, on a far less dramatic scale, every day.

So far, these are two strong books that I have enjoyed a lot. They aren't perfect, but any issues I've had have been overshadowed by the tight plotting and solid characterization.

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