Monday 10 November 2014

Book Review - Into the Still Blue

Into the Still Blue
Author: Veronica Rossi
Series: Under the Never Sky #3
Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopian | Young Adult
Release Date: 6th Febuary 2014
Publishers: Atom
No. Pages: 291
Source: Borrowed
Buy From: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Waterstones
Their love and their leadership have been tested. Now it's time for Perry and Aria to unite the Dwellers and the Outsiders in one last desperate attempt to bring balance to their world. The race to the Still Blue has reached a stalemate. Aria and Perry are determined to find this last safe-haven from the Aether storms before Sable and Hess do - and they are just as determined to stay together.

Meanwhile, time is running out to rescue Cinder, who was abducted by Hess and Sable for his unique abilities. And when Roar returns to camp, he is so furious with Perry that he won't even look at him, and Perry begins to feel like they have already lost. Out of options, Perry and Aria assemble a team to mount an impossible rescue mission - because Cinder isn't just the key to unlocking the Still Blue and their only hope for survival, he's also their friend.

And in a dying world, the bonds between people are what matter most.

The following review may contain spoilers concerning earlier books in the series.
If you have not read the previous installments, please proceed with caution.

Under the Never Sky was a series I really had never considered until Charnell had read and loved it, and I've already mentioned how much I appreciate her pushing for me to read this in my previous review, but I really do think she deserves acknowledgement for such a hard task. It's difficult getting me to read a 'hyped up' series, let alone one with so much love, so not only am I impressed she managed it, but I'm forever thankful too. Now, lets get to the nitty gritty.

Into the Still Blue was a hit or miss for some people. Some people couldn't finish it, other's were wowed by it. Me? I was a little more on the wow side of things by the end, but it wasn't an easy journey. I agree with those who couldn't finish the book, the beginning third was, well, lacking in everything the series had given me previously. There wasn't an awful lot going on, the chemistry and dynamics between Perry, Aria, Roar and other characters had changed so dramatically between Through the Ever Night and Into the Still Blue, and it made the transition and the actual encouragement to continue reading the book difficult. It took me days to finally settle down and think 'I am going to read you tonight' and after I'd made that decision, settling in for the night, giving it my all, it actually improved and I could see the direction Rossi had taken the characters and world in, but it didn't make it easy. One of the biggest things that interested me most about this series was the Aether - I'm a space buff, I love all that constellations and science and planets and otherworld-ness involved in creating a feature like that, and once I'd actually gained some knowledge on it, I was ready to learn more and more, but it felt as though Rossi had decided to almost abandon the Aether learning a little, which some people may have appreciated, but I, sorely missed. The romance was also a winner for me in Under the Never Sky and really, it vanished a little in Through the Ever Night and during the first third of this installment, but slowly and surely, it did return, which was much appreciated, I don't think I could have liked this book as I did without it.

I mentioned briefly in Through the Ever Night about Aria and Roars friendship and I don't think I really gave it the time it deserves. That friendship was one of the best friendships I've read in a series for a long time, it's up there with Valkyrie and Skulduggery, Harry and Ron, even Cinder and Iko, and there's absolutely nothing I love more, not even a romance, than a friendship that is built on so much more than common likes and dislikes. Aria and Roar developed their friendship from absolutely nothing in Under the Never Sky to almost a brother/sister relationship in this installment, it was honest, thoughtful, raw and beautiful, they fought, they argued, they supported and they forgave, but most of all, they never gave up on each other no matter what. Some readers complained that there was more chemistry between these two than with Perry, but I disagree, Aria and Roars relationships was always clearly that of friends, with Rossi proving that you can write a friendship with no an ounce of romance on the cards whatsoever, no crush, no flirt, nothing, just clear, honest, beautiful friendship right down to the heart. What Rossi did create though through Aria and Roar was a jealousy in Perry and I think this was hugely important. There aren't a lot of sides to Perry and what we learn about him throughout the series, the in depth features, are mainly from Roar and Aria themselves and maybe a little from him himself, and I think showing and highlighting this protective side, this weakness he had in himself was vital to not only the plot and pacing, but also the character development.

What this installment did lack was in common with Through the Ever Night - a definable plot. Under the Never Sky had one, Through the Ever Night was dotting around on, but Into the Still Blue felt like a real finale, with no minor plot throughout, which is a minor issue personally, but felt noticeable. The pacing was pretty steady, if not a little slow, until the three quarter mark when the action actually came about, when the plot twists started taking shape and we, as readers, actually got some answers. I felt like the inclusion of Aria's father wasn't really necessary, but was I guess nice and balanced her development, giving her more people she could rely on in her world, and I felt that Cinder and Perry's relationship was even more poignant in this novel than any of the others. Their journey and relationship with one another's was a strange one, yet it was wonderful to see it develop and reach it's peak - no, I didn't cry, but I was quite humbled to see how far Cinder came and just what he was willing to do. He was a wonderful character, in fact, many of the characters throughout this series were, they each played their parts perfectly, Rossi using them to create groups, twists, pacing and tension, jealousy, love and role models. There's few series that focus so much on characters and their individual development, but you only have to look at Brooke, at Roar, at Willow and at Caleb, the less main or secondary characters that grew in this series, the characters you, without even realising it, came to appreciate and love.

I had issues with this novel, it was a struggle to get through at first, but honestly, I know I could never have left it unread. Under the Never Sky was my surprise and Through the Ever Night was my bridge, but Into the Still Blue was a really lovely ending, highlighting the new life these people could have, in a world much safer than what they left, showing that you can work together when you're looking for the same answer and proving that through all of the sacrifices you make, there's a chance, a good chance, for a happy ending. Characters were lost, issues cropped up, but overall, I would recommend this series. It's a great Science-Fiction/Dystopian, with a well written plot, beautiful characters and a romance swoony enough to wish you were Aria. Personally, I think I'd choose Roar anyday, but that's something for another day..

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