Under This Forgetful Sky / Lauren Yero / Book Review

Rumi has spent his entire life behind the walls of St. Iago. Within the walls, the citizens of Upper City are safe. Glittering technology, easy comforts, and endless distractions help to block out the world outside the walls, the world crumbling in the face of environmental disaster. For Rumi, life inside the walls is all he has ever known. 

Until his father, an ambassador to Lower City, falls victim to a terrorist attack. In quarantine with a new strain of a disease that once threatened to wipe out the world, Rumi’s father has limited time left. Unless Rumi can find a cure. Unless Rumi dares to venture outside of the walls to where a cure just might exist. 

So Rumi escapes. Outside the wall in the ruined city of ParaĆ­so, Rumi meets girl called Paz who offers to be his escort to a healer up north, a healer who just might have cure he’s looking for. But Paz isn’t who she says, and life in Lower City is just as dangerous as Rumi has been told.


It's hard for me to describe exactly what I love about this book except to say that it is everything new YA dystopia should be. We've tread the same paths for the last decade, and dystopia is all about new paths, new worlds. This book is both lovely and horrific. Set in Chile after the collapse of the world as we know it, it beautifully captures both the feeling of Chilean writing and the classic touch of dystopian fear. It is strangely uplifting and hopeful even when absolutely horrific... In other words, I am in love. 


  • Revolutionary: This book is full of revolutionaries, which is classic in dystopia but also classic in a lot of Latin American writing because revolutionaries aren't just some what-if but a very tangible part of Latin American history. I love that this makes "rebels" feel so new, because these rebels are so grounded, so distinctly real and not just stock figures in this dystopian setting. The revolutionaries here aren't so black and white either. They do a lot of good (or they hope to) while also committing horrible atrocities. 
  • Atmosphere: This is one of the most vivid apocalyptic worlds in which I've immersed myself in a long time. The last I can think of that hit me so hard with its descriptions was Julianna Baggott's Pure. This book is scorching sands, burning toxins, and flashy technology that helps the privilege few stay distracted and above it all. Creeping vines crawl over ruins, and colorful shanty towns spring up out of the bones of our dead world. You can feel the toxic air, the bite of poisoned water. Everything is so vivid, so engrossing, right down to the perfect ending, mingled in both tragedy and hope.
  • Unapologetic: This is a world where code-switching is normal, a world where both Spanish and English coexist, and this book rightfully acknowledges that by making Spanish no big deal. There are two distinct points-of-view in this book, and Paz's perspective includes more Spanish -- Spanish that is often translated for the reader, since Paz herself understands these words. But Rumi doesn't, and when we're immersed in his perspective, a lot of this Spanish is left to sit. He's confused, and readers unfamiliar with Spanish will be left without a translator, just like he is. This adds to his confusion and frustration, and this adds to the world Lauren Yero builds. I love how natural, how unapologetic the Spanish is in this book. I want more books like it!


  • Too Many Things: This book wants to be a lot of things, and as lovely as it is, sometimes all the pieces feel overwhelming. It is a book steeped in poetry, storytelling traditions, and various cultures, and this helps it to feel full. But all of this on top of the dual POVs also means that a reader can be bombarded. The pieces don't always come together seamlessly. The poetry is beautiful. The call to listen to these stories feels distinctly Chilean, and all of these pieces feel too independent to be part of one great tapestry.
  • Brutal: This world isn't for the faint of heart. It's a world where you might have to slice your own throat--or watch someone you know do that. You run the risk of being ripped apart by dogs. You might be burned alive if you step over the line, and even if you don't, you'll have to hear the screaming. It's rough to read at times--rough most especially because it mirrors things that happen in our very real world. Corruption abounds on all sides, from the state and the revolutionaries, and the innocents suffer. 
  • Suddenly Sharing: This story is a lot of things, and one of those things is a love story. And I don't mind that. I just thought that it moved a bit too quickly once it got started. Paz is a very closed-off character and for good reason. Sharing her secrets could lead to her death and all too easily. But she starts falling for a guy, and she's suddenly willing to share. She doesn't, but the fact that she even considers it in the moment feels a little unlike something the character would do. It felt unrealistic.  



Fans of Scott Westerfeld's Pretties will like this dark and deadly world of haves and have-nots. Those who enjoyed Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 will love a meddling government doing exactly what the people desire. 


Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Date: July 18, 2023
Series: N/A
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Edelweiss+ and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


  1. While this is not my preferred genre, I appreciate your insightful and well-written review.

  2. Oh wow, this book sounds very heavy and intense!

    Corinne x

  3. This isn't my favourite genre either, although I did enjoy The Hunger Games trilogy. Interesting that it's set in Chile, not something I've seen before. Thank you for your review :)


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