Tuesday, December 10, 2013

ARC Review: Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky, #3) by Veronica Rossi


Title: Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky, #3)

Author: Veronica Rossi

Rating: 4 Stars

Release Date: January 28th, 2014

Into the Still Blue has been a novel I have anticipated ever since I closed the covers of Under the Never Sky. Even before Through the Ever Night released, I wanted to know the fate of these characters who had become so beloved. Veronica Rossi, as expected, delivers magnificently, tying up all loose ends in a conclusion that is wholly satisfying. While this novel is not my favorite of the trilogy – Under the Never Sky still holds that position – it only emphasizes how difficult it is to pinpoint any flaws in this debut series. It’s not so much that Rossi’s novels are perfect, but rather that they are flawless in their imperfections. And if you thought your heart tore apart in Through the Ever Night, be prepared for an emotional journey that will wreck your body seven-fold.

Into the Still Blue picks up directly where Through the Ever Night leaves off, leaving the Tides in a precarious situation, the world around them in an even more tumultuous state, and the score of enemies in the horizon only increasing in number. Although Rossi ends each of her novels on a satisfying note, never leaving her readers with cliffhangers, it is quickly made clear that not all is as content as is suggested by the last few lines of Through the Ever Night. Not only are tempers rising – Roar’s grief, Perry’s underlying distrust of Aria, Aria’s guilt, the expectations of the Tides – but the stakes have risen too. Where Through the Ever Night was a much slower, introspective, and character-driven look at the tensions prevalent in this trilogy, Into the Still Blue is one-third heart-pounding action, one-third kick-ass planning, and one-third straight-up emotional upheaval. In other words, it’s not a journey you’re going to want to miss.

In retrospect, it’s easy to look back on this trilogy and pick apart everything that could have gone wrong with it. After all, Rossi deviates from the typical dystopian route almost completely. Not only do Aria and Perry fall in love – and have sex – all within the span of the first book itself, but the consecutive novels explore the growth of their relationship without a love triangle. Roar, who could have easily become another prospective love interest, is kept firmly in his place as best friend – first to Perry, then to Aria, and ultimately to them both. Moreover, the plot direction of this series has been clear-cut from the start. It is no secret that once Aria and Perry’s romance took off, the next goals were to assimilate the separated groups of humans and find a way to reach the Still Blue, escaping the dangerous Aether realm. Unlike a classic dystopian venture where the ultimate outcome is shrouded in mystery – Allegiant, anyone? – this trilogy banks upon its characters. In them, we are constantly taken by surprise; our emotions deftly played with. It is a shock to see a character-driven dystopian series; one not focused on plot, but rather the complex relationships between people. And yet, I doubt I can ever pick up a trilogy driven forward by plot again; Rossi’s method works far too well.

Where Into the Still Blue shines is in slowly unraveling all that we, as the readers, rely on. Perry and Roar’s friendship is ripped to shreds within the opening chapters; Aria and Perry’s relationship must work to become stronger after their past ordeals; Perry only continues to struggle between his emotions and his duty. Needless to say, it left me writhing with FEELS all throughout, but the payoff was more than worth it. Everything about Into the Still Blue felt so cohesive merely because Rossi drew upon plot threads from the past two books, bringing them back to examine their impact on her characters over time. Whether it be the uncovering of Aria’s father, the mysteries behind the existence of the Still Blue, or even just the gradual solidification of past relationships, Rossi leaves no stone unturned.

Into the Still Blue, despite its character-driven qualities, never fails to surprise with the influx of new – and old – secondary characters. Soren, in particular, undergoes a drastic amount of change in this novel, representing the gradual mix of Dweller and Savage. Moreover, as the hunt to rescue Cinder gets underway, everyone from Sable to Kirra is brought back to the center stage. Rossi gets ambiguity like few authors do and no one, from Roar to Sable, is without it. Not only are the villains in this novel complex, never cold-cut black-and-white, but the heroes are too. We’ve seen the bulk of Aria and Perry’s struggles in Through the Ever Night, which makes Into the Still Blue a very much Roar-centric storyline. A favorite of many, Roar is not without his flaws, as Rossi makes evident, but these imperfections only increase our love for him.

It is difficult for me to articulate just why this novel excels as a conclusion without giving away important plot threads. I feel as if I can only re-iterate that the character interactions in this novel are infused with so much depth that more than one re-read is necessary to understand their unspoken tones. Moreover, the evident themes in this novel are heart-breaking, particularly that of sacrifice. Rossi has never shied away from character deaths, whether it be in Under the Never Sky or in Through the Ever Night, which only means that she brings out all her guns in Into the Still Blue. And yet, I really appreciate the manner and meaning which Rossi brings to these characters – deceased or on the brink of death themselves. Furthermore, the invisible threads that connect all these characters to one another ensure their survival, at least in memory, which is far more important than it seems.

If Into the Still Blue has any flaws, it is only in its rather rushed conclusion. Rossi paces every scene perfectly, never dragging-out the romance or rushing the action. And yet, towards the end, I felt as if the full repercussions of the last few events could have been explored in greater depth. Additionally, I felt as if a few momentous scenes are a bit…anti-climactic. It’s not to say that Into the Still Blue didn’t end perfectly – it did – but I wished for a little more to it as well. With this trilogy bursting from the seams in its flawlessness, however, I have little to complain about. Into the Still Blue is, truly, the only ending I could have imagined for these characters and this world. While the narration itself is never tinged with bittersweet longing, my heart certainly is. I can only wait for Rossi to deliver yet another incredible series; I feel empty without one to look forward to.

18 comments:

  1. Keertana I have to agree with every single point that you made, my heart just hurt so much in the opening chapters for Roar and for all the trust that had to be re-built amongst characters. Also Rossi surprised me so much with how characters changed, I thought that I had made my mind up about several of them in previous books, but she was quick to change my mind in this installment (I ended up with a new favourite!). I also wished that the ending hadn't been rushed, but like you I will definitely miss this series come next January. Great review Keertana!

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  2. I am actually pretty happy that those things happened in the first book, lol. Also, the clear-cut plot is one of the many reasons why I love this series so much. Wait, Allegiant what?

    This is the next book in my TBR pile and I was so excited to read this until I read the 'death' part in your review. Do I need a box of tissue for this? Nah, scratch that. I'm pretty sure I'm gonna bawl my eyes out death or no death. Thanks for the lovely review, Keertana!

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  3. Rossi really is a star at pacing, isn't she? I haven't read this one yet but it's on my TBR!

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  4. Ahhhhh! I still need to read Through the Ever Night Keertana! I so loved Under the Never Sky, I don't know why I'm taking so long to get caught up. Just a little longer to wait and I can read TTEN and this one back to back. I agree completely on the characters, they blew me away in the first book with their depth and I can't wait to spend more time with them soon. So happy you love this series!!!

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  5. This is my most highly anticipated book of the year. I've got the date marked on my calendar.

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  6. Through the Ever Night was my favorite, actually, precisely for all the reasons you described. It was slower, focused on the characters. But this one destroyed me emotionally, which was to be expected, but not to that extent. And yet, the ending left me completely satisfied.
    It was hard to say goodbye, but I know Rossi has some amazing projects ahead of her, even if she did decide to write NA.

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  7. I saw the title of this post in my Bloglovin' feed, I basically FREAKED OUT. I am absolutely dying for this book and was so scared when I clicked on the link. I then let out a breath of relief when I saw this was a mainly positive review. *throws confetti*

    I totally agree that this series as a whole really has been a character-based one, and I think that's what makes it so easy to love. The characters really start to mean something to you, and once you become attached, the plot really goes away in favor of just watching these characters GROW. In that respect, this series as a whole really is unique, and that's something I didn't really realize before you mentioned it.

    Despite some minor issues at the end and the anti-climatic moments, I'm glad you were really able to enjoy this one. I am really excited to see the growth of some more minor characters I hadn't given a second thought to before.

    Gorgeous review, as always, Keertana dear. <3

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  8. I recently felt the same way about an ending to a series book. It felt a bit rushed. Still was entertaining. I still need to read that first book, but I swear you pushed it up. I can deal with a bit of a rushed ending when the rest of it sounds so good.

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  9. I've had this on my Kindle for months now, but I haven't gotten around to it because I CAN'T REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED IN THE FIRST TWO BOOKS.

    I had the same problem when I read Through the Ever Night--I was halfway through it before I could make any sense at all of what was going on with the characters. That's one problem for me with series that focus less on plot than on character. I just..I read over 300 books a year, and that makes it hard to track series, no matter how much I love the characters.

    But I just checked Recaptains, and they have both of the previous novels up, so I guess I don't really need to worry about it anymore.

    Wonderful review, Keertana. Thank you for resisting the urge to spoil.

    Kate @ The Midnight Garden

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    1. I know exactly what you mean, Kate! I read a little over 300 books a year myself and I never remember minute details, but thankfully with YA trilogies I've found that a big picture is more than enough for me to go on before tackling the next installment. Plus, I always love the authors who include recaps on their websites or just short triggers within the begging of their stories. I hope you enjoy this one, Kate - looking forward to your take on it!(;

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  10. A rushed conclusion often kills a novel for me, but it sounds like this one is strong enough to withstand even THAT, and that's saying something, for sure! I really need to start this series! Wonderful review, Keertana!

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  11. I'm like the last human being who hasn't read this series. I mean everyone is getting excited about this book and I haven't even started it. I must do that soon. My time won't allow it probably. Anyhow I'm glad you enjoyed it so much. Great review, Keertana :)

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  12. Despite some mild criticisms, all this is high praise indeed, especially for a third book! I have to confess I had lukewarm feelings about the first one in the series, but all the subsequent praise for the sequels does have me curious.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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  13. This book definitely tore me apart! It is tough stuff but I love this book for it. I agree that this isn't the strongest of the three, but it is still a great conclusion, and definitely not disappointing or upsetting, as I've come to fear of series ends.

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this entire paragraph "In retrospect, it’s easy to look back on this trilogy and pick apart everything that could have gone wrong with it. After all, Rossi deviates from the typical dystopian route almost completely…." YESSSSSS. I've gotten so tired of the dystopian model and the typical three book series story arc with triangles etc, that I adore that Rossi did something different. Well said.

    I wanted more ending too! Maybe Roar will get a book. Or at least I will wish it so in my mind. Great thoughtful review.

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  14. I am about to buy a copy and I can't wait to see the conclusion :D Thanks for the lovely review :D

    -DAnnielle

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  15. I'm one behind! I guess now I won't have the long wait for this one. And now I really need to make time for it! I didn't read your review cause I didn't want any potential spoilers for the previous book. But I'm glad you enjoyed!

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  16. I agree with so much of your review, Keertana! I was so happy with this book, and couldn't be any more satisfied with the conclusion that these characters have gotten. I do agree that there were a few anti-climactic moments - the crossing in particular didn't quite do to me what I thought it would - but it doesn't matter too much. The characters have always been the thing that has made this series for me, and Rossi delivered in every way in that aspect. I can't wait to try something new from her now. :)

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