I feel like it’s been a long time since I read a dual perspective narrative where I enjoyed both characters evenly. The main characters, Aria and Perry, were very different, but each was rich and believable. Aria is on a quest to discover what happened to her mother. This kicks off the inciting incident and is a driving force for her throughout the story. Perry was involved in the inciting incident because of his desire to help his nephew, also a force that drives him through the rest of the story. Once the characters come together their goals become mingled, but they each maintain that central drive that keeps them on their own distinct path and makes them unique characters on a shared journey.
There is a strong romance undercurrent to this story, based on the ol’ hate-to-love trope. Aria and Perry are disgusted by each other at the beginning of the book, but come to see each other’s strengths and charm as the story progresses. Being a YA book, the romance sticks to PG-13, which I appreciate since I’ve never been a fan of hot and heavy romance.
It was a very character-centric story. So much so that you could boil most of the plot down to a single cross-country hike. That is, of course, over-simplifying, but I did wonder at one point if they were going to do anything besides walk through the wilderness getting to know each other. Despite the straight-forwardness of their journey, they did get several twists thrown in their path and I was never bored.
The world Aria and Perry inhabit was beautifully realized, with enough detail to let me visualize the scorched earth and violence of the aether storms and the dreary gray of the pods without dragging the pace down with minutia. Rossi expertly wove details of plot, setting, and character together for seamless storytelling. Under the Never Sky was a compelling ride from start to finish, and I can’t wait to see how the rest of the series plays out.