My Rating: 5 out of 5
Since she'd been on the outside, she'd survived an Aether storm, she'd had a knife held to her throat, and she'd seen men murdered.
This was worse.
Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland--known as The Death Shop--are slim. If the cannibals don't get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She's been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He's wild--a savage--and her only hope of staying alive.
A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile--everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria's help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must accept each other to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.
This is the best YA book I have read since Divergent. I have heard some people complain about it being slow or confusing, but I think that it depends on the reader. I didn't find it slow or confusing at all. My guess is that they found it slow because of the constant trekking. I have read a lot of high fantasy and a lot of books that are almost entirely walking, building fires, and hunting. I am used to this so I didn't find it slow. Its part of the adventure. And my guess is that they found it confusing because of the amount of technology and virtual reality in the beginning, before Aria left the dome. I have also read a lot of hard sci-fi, so I am used to this. So, if you are expecting this to be a soft YA romance, you should adjust your expectations before reading it.
I don't know if I am the only one, but I find a lot of YA feels amateur. Even though I love YA, and almost every book I read, they don't all have the same level of prose. I tolerate this because I read for characters more than anything. But the writing in this was amazing! And an author's writing abilities don't just make it easier to read, they bring everything to life! This flowed so smoothly and felt so real. I have hardly ever read a YA book with characters that felt so real. There is one point where the hero, Perry, thought to himself about how much Aria had changed, and I realized, wow, she really has! It hadn't even occurred to me that she was practically an entirely different person from who she had been in the beginning, because it had happened so naturally and organically. The same goes for the romance. It wasn't insta-love, and there wasn't a defining moment that you could pinpoint when their relationship or feelings began. It just grew. We could see it right before our eyes, from the beginning right to the end, growing at a steady pace. It was beautiful. And the enhanced senses that some people had brought the whole world brightly to life.
Be warned that this is not like other dystopian or post-apocalyptic books. Its a bit of both, but mostly it is an adventure. There are absolutely no references to our world. There was clearly a devastating event that happened in the past that they call the Unity. But we don't necessarily know that this is even Earth. In that way, it reminds me of Orson Scott Card's Pathfinder. And although there is a fair amount of technology, this feels a lot like a high fantasy, since there is a great lack in technology outside of the domes, and a primitive way of life. This is a very difficult genre to define. And although the main characters are 17 and 18, this doesn't exactly read like a typical YA. It is slightly heavier, story-wise, as well as thematically and in writing style. But the content is entirely suitable for YA readers. Definitely recommended!
“She absorbed the terror and beauty of him and his world. Of every moment over the past days. All of it, filling her up like the first breath she'd ever taken. And never had she loved life more.”