Review Detail4.4 23
The only area that had me stumbling was the introduction to Aria's life in Reverie. The futuristic slang mixed with undeveloped world-building had me seeking answers that took time to reveal themselves. Most confusing is the technology Aria uses, mainly her Smarteye, and how she manipulates it to transport her into different Realms. You quickly learn that in order to reduce claustrophobia, those living in Pods are able to live virtually through a device attached to their eye which projects a virtual reality where anything is possible - and fear is eliminated. However, despite the fact that you spend the first few chapters slightly confused, the action and intrigue is strong enough to keep you turning pages.
Told from both Aria and Perry's PoV allows for a unique look into both sides of the coin - that of a Dweller (or Mole) and an Outsider (or Savage). Aria is a heroine you can look up to. She first enters into a dangerous situation to gain information about her mother, who she hasn't heard from in over a week after the link between the Pod she was working in was severed with Reverie, knowing the consequences could be (and ultimately are) life-changing. Her courage in the face of obstacles only continues as she's literally thrown into the "Real", refusing to succumb to the panic welling up inside her at the thought of dying from just breathing the outside air. Her initial distrust of Perry is believable, and her attempt to escape his presence was something I admired her for. Her curiosity was endearing, and I laughed when I realized that she collected rocks just because she was fascinated by their differences. I loved that she was eager to learn how to fend for herself, so she wouldn't be so reliant on those around her, and that even though she developed strong feelings for Perry, she didn't let those feelings change her course - she was determined to find her mother, even if that meant walking away from Perry forever.
Perry was interesting for completely different reasons. Where Aria was brave in the face of the unknown, Perry was brave for knowing what kind of obstacles existed (cannibals!), but swearing to overcome them in order to save his nephew from the Dwellers who had taken him. His kind nature is apparent from the moment you first meet him, but he has managed to convince himself that he brings nothing but pain and destruction to those he loves. His ability to open up with Aria showed us a side of him that he had never showed to anyone, and her faith in his kindness gave him the strength to overcome his insecurities and pursue what he felt was rightfully his. His selfless act of letting go showed strength beyond measure, and I loved him even more for it. My heart broke for him when Aria walked away from him, but I love that he also had the strength to let her go - he had a different purpose, and knew that sometimes there are more important things than love.
From start to finish I was hooked. There were moments where I caught myself holding my breath, unwilling to keep reading for fear of someone's life, but unwilling to tear my eyes away at the same time. I was on the edge of my seat for the whole book, waiting both for something terrible to happen and for Perry and Aria to just kiss already! I can't believe how it ended - I flipped back and forth through the pages several times to make sure I didn't miss anything - and I literally shook the book in my satisfied frustration. Round one to you Ms. Rossi, touché.