Under the Never Sky

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Under the Never Sky Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Hard-edged romantic adventure set in a dystopian future.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 12 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The setting of this sci-fi adventure story is reasonably well thought-out, but the futuristic elements -- immersive virtual reality, biotechnology, psychic abilities, and genetic mutation -- aren't explored with any particular scientific rigor.

Positive Messages

The novel emphasizes the importance of being true to both yourself and your family obligations. Aria and Peregrine are very focused on their finding their remaining family members.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Aria and Peregrine aredriven to push themselves past their limits for the benefit of their families. Although shielded from harsh reality for most of her life, Aria quickly adapts to life Outside, moving forward without complaint, even though she's ill-equipped to deal with the demands of her journey. Peregrine adheres to a warrior's code and can be brutal when circumstances demand it. But he's sensitive to Aria's needs and is deeply devoted to his young nephew, Talon.


Life outside the protected enclaves in Under the Never Sky is harsh, and there's a fair amount of violence and death depicted in the novel, incuding arson and bloodshed. Peregrine is a hunter, and he tracks prey both animal and human. He kills a number of opponents with arrows, instigates a knife fight, and ultimately kills someone close to him. Aria also finds herself in a situation where she must use deadly force in self-defense. Another character who has psychic powers similar to pyrokinesis badly burns Peregrine and later decimates a tribe of cannibals.


Aria experiences her first period while on her trek across the wasteland with Peregrine. (Women in the Pods do not menstruate.) Aria and Peregrine are physically attracted to each other, a situation complicated by his ability to read emotions through the senses of smell and taste. Eventually, they are physically intimate, but their encounter isn't described in any detail. It's more than implied that Peregrine has had other lovers. It's also implied that the virtual reality Realms are used for some form of cybersex.


Very little swearing. One character mentions being "pissed off," and one half-jokingly uses the term "bastard."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters occasionally drink a concoction called "Luster," which seems to contain alcohol, based on its effects. Luster is also used as a pain killer when Aria and Peregrine are injured. A lonely and distraught Peregrine later overindulges when he meets up with some strangers. He becomes belligerent, gets into a deadly fight, proves victorious, and then vomits copiously.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Under the Never Sky is a well-realized science fiction adventure romance that has a fair amount of violence and killing depicted, incuding arson and bloodshed. The novel also has a frank approach to teen sexuality, but the one sexual encounter isn't described in any detail.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byShellbelle823 May 23, 2014
Teen, 15 years old Written byanoland August 9, 2018


This book seemed interesting based on the cover summary and first several chapters, and the setting is quite a cool concept. However, the romance and inappropri... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byMarla13 November 11, 2020

What's the story?

An attempt to reach her missing mother ends with 16-year-old Aria exiled from the safety of her enclosed city, Reverie. She doesn't expect to last long Outside, not if the stories about deadly plagues are to be believed. Luckily, she meets up with Peregrine, a hunter who's also estranged from everyone he cares about. Together, they brave deadly Aether storms, wolves, and attacks by cannibals as they search for their missing loved ones.

Is it any good?

Some elements here may seem overly familiar, but there's enough originality in the book's plot, character, and setting to raise this opening installment in a new series above the ordinary. Issues that seem underdeveloped will presumably be addressed in future volumes. Many readers will be eager for Volume 2, but the setup isn't yet a slam-dunk. Author Veronica Rossi still needs to prove that she can maintain her story over at least three installments.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether being physically connected to a virtual world like the Realm would be an advantage. What are the benefits of being continuously "plugged in"? What might the downside be?

  • The people who live in the Pods are genetically engineered to be healthier and more physically attractive. Do you think that would be a completely desirable environment? What could be the drawbacks of seeking genetic "perfection"?

  • In science fiction, the future is sometimes depicted as worse than the present day. Why do you think that is? Do you think science-fiction authors are most often predicting the future or commenting on their own times?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science fiction

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