The last time I read a sequel to a young adult novel was when I read Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. Since then, I’ve tried to read the first installment of three young-adult series and found that they weren’t stories that interested me. Through the Ever Night has broken that streak, and I’m glad that it did.
Following after the events of its predecessor, Under the Never Sky, our main characters Aria and Perry are reunited after being separated, but now they face bigger challenges — Perry’s legitimacy and ability to rule as Blood Lord are questioned by his tribe, Aria is not welcomed anywhere because of her lineage, the Aether storms are becoming more and more destructive and threatening, Talon, Perry’s nephew, is still missing, and new enemies and characters are introduced that will challenge Aria and Perry more than before.
For one, I found Through the Ever Night better than Under the Never Sky. In retrospect, the latter provided a good foundation, and Through the Ever Night takes that foundation and builds on it to further develop the story. Both narratives (again, from Perry and Aria’s perspectives) are contribute significantly to the progression of the story, rather than seeing how Aria felt about this and how Perry felt about this.
It’s clear to me now that the Under the Never Sky series is very character-driven; there’s an emphasis on how each character feels, thinks and matures. This is particularly evident in Perry’s narrative, as we observe how he grows and develops with the challenges that he faces as Blood Lord. Props to Rossi for posing realistic and legitimate fears and problems that both parties – Perry and prominent individuals in his tribe – face and attempt to reconcile; fears and problems that have no clear-cut answer and both have merits in their own right. Above all, Perry’s sense of duty and devotion to his tribe was a quality that really appealed to me, because if he had escaped with Aria, it would have made the book no different to Under the Never Sky. Also, it entailed that Perry had to learn what it meant to lead, to make sacrifices and difficult decisions, and responsibility.
Although I am still unsure about Aria as a character (I still find her and her character development generic and wholly uninteresting), the reason why I enjoyed her perspective was due to Roar and Aria’s friendship – close, intimate but purely platonic. The dynamic between them is engaging and heartfelt, and the fact that this friendship, even with its development, was devoid of questions of ‘do I love him?’ or ‘are we more than just friends?’ was refreshing, and allowed the story to remain focused on the challenges and obstacles relevant to the plot. Also, the reintroduction of Soren was interesting; I hope he becomes a bigger character in the third book because I am interested to see how Rossi will develop his character (if she does, that is) and what significant roles he might have.
As for my criticisms, I have a feeling Cinder will be more important in the third book, but like the first book, he remains underdeveloped in Through the Ever Night. At this point, Cinder is afraid of people, easily angered but has a small liking for Willow, one of the girls in the Tides tribe. Beyond that, there is nothing we know about Cinder. My apprehension is that there will be ambitious attempt to develop Cinder’s character without making him into a plot device for Aria and Perry. Cinder is interesting and he can be interesting. I just hope that his character won’t be invalidated in the third book.
Kirra is another character that I have gripes with, and is far too similar to the age-old young adult novel character trope: the female character that seduces the male protagonist to throw him off course and when/if he turns down her advances, she becomes a cold, bad bitch. Kirra serves a purpose in the story, but it’s a purpose that is hardly original and disappointing. Although her actions will influence the story of the third book, beyond the character trope, Kirra was boring and predictable. Any reader who has the capacity to think critically would have predicted her actions at the end of the book.
Lastly, the science fiction aspect of the book remains underdeveloped and unconvincing. As I said earlier, this book is very character-driven, so there is less attention on the overall plot (with the exception of the last few chapters) and worldbuilding. Although there was a sentence or two that describes the origins of Aether – due to an erosion of the Earth’s magnetic field, causing Aether to appear and an unstable atmosphere – it remains vague and poorly/under-explained. At this point of the books, I have a feeling that we may get more answers in the third book, but I wish Aether was made more prominent and more relevant in the book, rather than just a constant obstacle that the characters have to survive.
The story of Through the Ever Night functions like a bridge between the first book and the finale. Although I enjoyed reading Through the Ever Night and found it entertaining, for readers who don’t enjoy character-driven books and prefer something with a substantial plot, developed concepts and worldbuilding, Through the Ever Night isn’t much different from the first in that regard. Still, the Under the Never Sky books are thus far entertaining, easy reads. After I finish Roar and Liv, I’m going to give the series finale, Into the Still Blue a go.
Book Title: Through The Ever Night
Book Series: Under the Never Sky #2
Author: Veronica Rossi
Published by: HarperCollins
Pages: 341 pages