"A children's story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children's story. The good ones last." --C.S. Lewis
Christina Reads Your Recommendations is a regular Monday feature here (inspired by A Reader of Fictions' Sadie Hawkins Sunday) in which you, my readers, get to choose what book I will read and review next. Got a book that you love and want everyone to read and review? That you're not sure what to think of and want a second opinion on? That you think I'll love or that I should have already read? Send in your recommendations via this form!
May contain spoilers for Under the Never Sky!
1. (+) Aria, a protagonist - The thing that I like most about Aria is that she could be any one of us. It's not that she doesn't have a personality--no, far from that. She's strong, sarcastic, determined, smart, but above all, she is still a teen trying to deal with grief and make her way in the world. Some characters come off as too loud, too intense, but Aria comes off as just right and perfectly believable. She also shows more confidence in her abilities as a fighter, singer, and survivor than she did in the first book, though she is not free of other doubts about herself and her status in Perry's life.
2. (+) Perry, a protagonist - What's not to like about Perry? He had to do something terrible towards the end of Under the Never Sky that I immediately sympathize with and he snaps at people and gets tempted to do things because of the stress he's put under and yet... Perry is Perry. As determined, loyal, smart, capable, strong as Aria when it comes to leading and making the right choices. I think what I like most about Perry is how well he matches with Aria and how well their POVs work together for the story.
3. (+) World-building -I'd read some reviews that suggested that there wasn't enough to explain the Aether in Under the Never Sky -- not so here. You learn more about it and experience its brutality. You learn more about the history of the world and how people had separated into such disparate cultural groups. You learn more about various powers, people, tribes, and the dire situation that's pushing this world to the brink of destruction. There's also a lot of sensory and survivalist detail about certain geographical locations and the way some tribes live and die out on their own.
4. (+) Romance - There aren't too many romantic scenes in this book, but there's a reason why Aria and Perry are together on the last cover, and that's because this book does not fall prey to the Second Book Syndrome where couples suddenly seem to forget how much they love each other or all the forces in the world conspire to keep them apart, etc. etc.. There's a lot that Perry and Aria have to deal with in this book, but by far the best aspect is that they retain faith in each other. (Well, besides the slow burn, supportive nature of their relationship). That's not something you see a lot in YA.
5. (+) Plot - This is what I wanted from Under the Never Sky. The predecessor focused on the trip Aria and Perry make and how their love blossomed. This novel focuses on another trip, but the plot threads get twisted so that the romance is not at the forefront; it fades to the back, providing character motivation and tension to complicate the situation. Everything gets complicated. There were twists I could predict and some that I could not. More importantly there was enough tension and conflict to give forward momentum and drive me towards the conclusion with bated breath.
6. (+) No Recap & the Ending - I'd not reread Under the Never Sky before reading this one, so I was a tad confused because I didn't remember some of the characters, but it was better this way. The confusion didn't last for long, and the story got started from page 1. Both books also ended perfectly, setting up the main conflict for the next books in a reasonable way, not leaving it to the last page.
7. (+) Character Cast - I was surprised by how much larger the character cast got in this sequel, but what I think is even more impressive is that I came to care for a good deal of the side characters like Reef and Cinder (Roar was up there from the first book). The three I listed, among others, probably get developed the most, but there was in general a nice mix of characters we got to know better and characters who you sense clearly have a back story? Also, did you know that there's a novella soon to be released about Brooke? I admit that of all the Through the Ever Night characters, I probably would not have expected a novella focused on her, but I'm intrigued. I may take a look at Roar and Liv soon.
8. (+) Writing - It's not sparse prose per say, but it's beautiful in its simplicity, in the way it evokes your first experiences of the ocean or of an Aether strike, or what it's like to scent others' tempers or experience a virtual reality world. You know how in a dual POV book you might grow to like one POV more than the other? Also not the case here.
9. (+) Pacing - There was not one moment where I felt bored or restless because there was always something happening. The pacing did not relent for one moment, always building towards the climax.
10. (+/-) The Cover - I get that it's probably very hard to make the Outside or the Pods appear realistic on a cover... but I am a bit miffed as to why Perry's wearing those clothes. Don't they seem not only too modern but also not appropriate for someone from the Tides? They could control the clothes, right? I love the colors and how the covers go together but hmmmmm.
I'd read a bunch of reviews around the release date that suggested this title was better than its predecessor. It was. Much better. Any issue I'd had with the first novel was rapidly erased in this one. Packed with action, unforgettable characters, and stunning consequences, Through the Ever Night is a gem among sequels.
As always, feel free to send in more recommendations!