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.
I have to be honest, this was a particularly difficult book to get into. What hampered my ability to connect initially was more the writing style than the material. There are some rather choppy transitions and I'm not a fan of the author's use of short, unfocused sentences. I found it a bit distracting at first as it didn't allow the story to flow. See for yourself:
"He had a point. Soren loved himself too much to risk his own like. Aria's gaze rested on his muscled back. Soren was the son of Reverie's Director of Security. He had the kind of flesh that only came with privilege."
I found these kinds of passages very jarring and distracting, and the novel is littered with them. Couple that with what I perceived to be at the time, Aria's rather flaccid personality, I put the book down several times. BUT, many of the reviewers I respect and follow on Goodreads seemed to adore this novel so that alone compelled me to pick it up again and give it another chance.
Once the story picked up the sentence structure issue seemed to irk me less and less, eventually causing me to forget altogether that it had ever been an issue at all. And Aria, who I had written off as entitled and self important, became a heroine I could easily relate to. Was the novel perfect? Nope. There were aspects I felt could have been more fleshed out, occasions where the author strayed into descriptions that didn't mesh well with world she had constructed. During the action sequences there were times it was difficult to discern what was happening to whom, something which should have been cleaned up during the editing process.
What worked fantastically about this book are its pacing and character development. Once over the hump of the first few chapters, the story changes gears and remains at full throttle until the final page. But this shift in intensity is not at all at the expense of solid character development. In fact, they allow us to explore the complexities of our protags. Using third person, alternating POV's was a brilliant decision which could have very easily gone wrong. But perfectly transitioned POV's married with the appropriate mix of introspection allowed for beautiful and seamless narration. Not once did the storytelling lose its footing.
Yes, there's also a romance element to this tale and, yes, it is clear from the onset what's going to happen, but it does so in the appropriate time and with thoughtfulness and consideration for the story as a whole. There's no insta love, no angsty I-love-you-I-hate-you thing. It's develops organically and is well earned.
Aria and Perry are characters with whom readers can easily relate. Though their worlds are completely different from one another, and certainly our own, it is quite simple to understand their motivations and relate to their collective and individual struggles. Individually they have enough chops to carry the book on their own, together they make for an intriguing and rich story.
Adding to the strength of the storytelling are the supporting cast of characters. I find myself wanting to know where their stories will go in the next novel. Roar and Cinder, Marron and Talon, even Reef are all intriguing. It's awesome that the author has chose to add a novella to the collection which will focus on Roar and his backstory with Liv, who has yet to be introduced to the story. Sign me up!
If book two and three follow in the footsteps of its predecessor, this series could easily be one of the best I've read.