I can’t believe it took me so long to get to this one. A) It was just so good! And B) The cover is just so pretty! I literally can’t stop myself from continuing to glance over my right shoulder, even as I am typing this, and gazing at the gorgeous cover. It’s definitely a book I’m glad to own because I will most likely be re-reading this one again at some point (hopefully before book 2 comes out).
It’s about Aria and Perry. Aria grew up in the pods, sort of these tight, secluded areas that are relatively safe from all the horrors of the outside. Outside has horrible storms called aether, which sound like these giant electrical/energy storms. And there’s disease that wipes out whole groups of people. In the pods, Aria is in a very confined space, yet she is relatively safe. She also has access to fake reality. She, along with all the other dwellers have eye pieces that always connect them to a virtual reality. It kind of reminded of the people who were all connected digitally in the movie Wall-E.
Perry grew up in actual reality. He knows how to walk through the worst of the aether storms. And he also knows how to hunt, start fires, make shoes, and well pretty much just survive. His brother is the leader of the tribe he’s in. And he disagrees with almost everything his brother decides. If it weren’t for his nephew (brother’s son: Talon), he’d probably challenge his brother to the death and take over his leadership role. He thinks the tribe needs to move and find more fertile land, but his brother refuses to leave thinking they’re all safer on land they know, even if it is land with little to no game left.
Talon is sick and Perry goes against the wishes of brother and starts exploring closer to the land where the pods are. He witnesses Aria being attacked by another dweller who’d been busy setting fire to an abandoned pod, and actually saves her life. In the process he somehow gets hold of her eye-piece and takes it back with him.
Too bad for Aria, the boy who attacked her was the head of security’s son, and it’s no surprise that the head of security doesn’t want anyone to know how messed up his child is, so he has security release Aria outside the pods, so no one will ever know any better. Aria is taught to believe she has very little time outside the pods. She thinks the air alone can kill her. But she survives some really harsh nights. And then in comes Perry in the middle of a dangerous storm, and he saves her again.
The two become allies, though neither really tolerates the other very well. Aria thinks Perry is a savage. And Perry thinks Aria is weak. Aria’s people kidnapped Talon the day Perry saves Aria for the second time. And he thinks the only way to get him back is to get the eye-piece fixed and have Aria connect with people from her old home. She agrees to do this because she wants to connect with her mother who she is afraid might already be dead.
The two of them take a long journey together to Perry’s friend who hopefully can reconnect the eye-piece. Aria learns a lot about the real world and about surviving. And Perry learns a lot about words, music, and understanding. There’s singing, hunting, adventuring, and mystery solving here! Also, there’s scary cannibals, secret powers, whole tribes out to get Perry, serious injuries, dangerous wolves, learning to fight, some fantastic characters, and plenty of wonderful, slow-building romance!
I loved watching the relationship between Aria and Perry grow! It was very Elizabeth Bennet/Mr. Darcy kind of inevitable. And the ending was just so good, I read it like three times, just now.
I thought Rossi did a fantastic job at world building. The world (inside and outside) was just so interesting. It read kind of more like a Cashore-type fantasy novel than dystopia, mainly because of all the epic adventure and journey. And I’m so okay with this writing style! I could have kept reading about the details. Rossi is definitely short on a lot of details, and at first that kind of confused me, but then I loved it. I loved that an author was finally trusting me to figure it out on my own, and I think I did okay.
It took me a little while to like Aria. She did start off as rather weak. I get why she did; it makes sense. I just found it hard to like her. But she was just so willing to learn. She knew where she was ignorant, and went about trying to fix things, and that is why I came to love her. She could have complained a lot more too, and I’m so glad she didn’t. Her strength won me over too.
All in all, it was a great story, there was a wonderful romance, the world was fascinating, and I just couldn’t put it down. It definitely gets a 10/10 from me. And I am so excited for book 2!