When her mother's work takes her to the Bliss pod and she goes missing Aria devises a plan, using an illegal outing with friends as an attempt to gain information from Soren, son of the head Consul. She's convinced he knows something about her mother's whereabouts and hopes she'll be able to get him to share what he knows. Soren has others plans for Aria and as a result the outing goes horribly wrong ending with Aria being accused of a crime she didn't commit and her subsequent banishment into The Death Shop where danger lurks everywhere. Dwellers don't live long in The Death Shop because their bodies aren't genetically able to withstand the climates, the lack of food available or worse, the Savages that live there.
Peregrine, or Perry, is an Outsider, a Savage, who lives in what's left of the world, where they know hunger, pain; where they feel things because it's real. He's also familiar with the electrified storms, known as the Aether, that plague the skies, raining fire and scorching the earth and everything in it's path. He's part of the Tide, his brother Vale being the Blood Lord and while they used to be close, things haven't been the same since Vale's wife died.
Perry spends most of his time with his nephew, Talon, Vale's 7yr old son, and imagining how things would be different if he were the Blood Lord. He believes he could do so much good for his people if only given the chance. He has a rare gift, being able to scent people's emotions, and tempers and his gift comes in handy when hunting too. As tensions begin to rise between he and Vale, Perry considers leaving for good, thinking it the best way to keep everyone safe, but when Talon is abducted by Dwellers, Perry will do whatever it takes to get his nephew back, even if it means pairing up with someone like Aria.
Aria and Perry reluctantly agree to work together to help him find a way to Talon and she to her mother. Their journey will take them through some of the most dangerous territories left and they'll be forced to rely on each other's strengths to survive. Their prejudices against one another are strong and threaten to derail their efforts many times. He sees her as small and weak with her dark hair and pale skin, not built for his world. She views him as a beast with his wild blond hair, feral green eyes and his body that's covered in markings.
The more time they spend together, the more their preconceived differences are challenged as they slowly discover they have more in common than they realized. Along the way they both experience changes neither expected or knew they needed in their lives. Aria discovers what it means to live in the "real", marveling at real rocks, animals, and even real food. Perry learns what it's like to have someone believe in him, to see that he's good and capable of leading his tribe. When their friendship blossoms into an unlikely love, they'll test the boundaries of their kinds as well as all who live under the never sky.
I really enjoyed this book! Rossi does an excellent job of describing both Aria and Perry's worlds, painting vivid pictures that engage all of the readers senses. She also explains how the world ended up in it's current state, through our lack of care, instead of leaving us guessing like many dystopians do.
The characters are well developed and the romance between Aria and Perry is a believable one, growing slowly through trials and time spent trying to understand one another. It's a bittersweet love filled with moments of humor, passion and heartache.
This is the first in a trilogy and while it's always a bit frustrating to have to wait for the next book (patience is not my strong suit) this first one ends in a good place. It leaves just enough unanswered questions to keep your interest while tying up a few lose ends.