This was a re-read for me. So many friends loved it, and I thought it was worth giving it a second shot. I have to say - huge improvement! The big difference? This time I just let the book be what it was, rather than expecting it to be something I thought it should.
So first, a few comments on the mechanics: Re-reading it was a good choice because although I knew the basic plot and flow of events, I could concentrate more this time on the writing and the way events happened. This is often true for me with movies - if I know what's going to happen going in, then I pay a lot more attention to the details as they unfold. I should also say that I listened to this both times on audio. The narrator was less than stellar, and that always colours my impression of a story. Note to authors - make sure your narrator is worthy of your story!
And on to the story! Once I got past the sound of the book and really got to know the characters, I liked them a lot better. I still think the whole naming of the characters is a bit juvenile. But the characters are richer than I first thought. For me, the characters developed in relation to each other rather than individually. I didn't really get a good sense of who Aria was until I could see her interacting with Perri. Perri, on the other hand, was pretty clear. I saw Aria grow as her relationship with Peri grew. By the end, she was pretty defined. I liked Roar a lot; I'm sure I will love him after I read the short story [b:Roar and Liv|15754052|Roar and Liv (Under the Never Sky, #0.5)|Veronica Rossi|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348137619s/15754052.jpg|21450045]. Cinder was a good addition. The Croven creeped me out appropriately. Vane was one of the author's triumphs, I think - she made him sympathetic as a leader while making him a great bad guy.
Things moved along pretty quickly, which was nice. And I have to say that events happened in a way that flowed. Nothing came out of the blue or abruptly, especially in terms of the romance. None of it seemed forced. A lot of the more base things bothered me the first time around - but this time, they seemed more natural. Again, when I reminded myself to just let the story be what it was, it changed everything.
Rossi is great at giving her readers a wonderful picture of what's happening. If they make this book into a movie, it will have to compete what I see in my mind's eye. The fact that I have a view of it in my mind's eye is a tribute to the author's writing strength.
So all in all, it was a great read. I think this should definitely be read in print, though. The voices would be much better heard in one's head rather than on the current audio. I'm definitely in for the sequel, [b:Through the Ever Night|13253276|Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky, #2)|Veronica Rossi|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1340892848s/13253276.jpg|18454415].
In case you're interested, here is my review after the first time reading it, where I gave it only 2 stars:I am so disappointed.
I had such high hopes for this book. The premise sounded interesting and had potential. And then it just fell flat. After Delirium, Pandemonium, Blood Red Road, and the Chaos Walking series, I expected yet another great story full of rich characters and great adventure. Nope. I did finish it, although I was tempted to give up.
Where do I begin? First of all, the names of the characters are clearly directed at a tween audience. I hate it when an author does this, because I feel like she's dumbing the book down to a younger audience. And then you have the subject matter (with regard to romance), which is clearly not for tweens. Actually I think my biggest beef with this book is that it reads like a trashy romance novel. Strong words, I know.
The writing doesn't flow well. Honestly, if you're going to go back and forth between the characters for your chapters, then I expect the story to be told in the character's voice. There's WAY too much "she did this. And then she did that. And then she thought this." There's no connection between the events, the observations, and the feelings. Come to think of it, I really didn't get much of a clear picture of Aria. It's very choppy.
The story had such promise, and then we get into all this "smell" stuff. I think the tone was just a bit too earthy for me. I loved the earthiness of Blood Red Road - but this was just distasteful. It made me uncomfortable to be reading about things like "first blood" and the smells of someone's temper. I had this mental image of Perri going around with his nose stuck up in the air, acting like a hound dog.
There were characters that I just didn't care about. Maybe those are more prominent in the books that follow, but I just didn't connect with any of the other people. The bad guys weren't that bad, and the good guys just seemed kind of shallow.
Finally, some books should not be audio books. This is a prime example. Had I read rather than listened to the book, I might have liked it more. But really, I doubt it.
I think I may read it again just to make sure I didn't like it, just to be fair. I don't hold out much hope, but there may be things there that I've missed. Sometimes the second time around leaves a different flavor.