Saturday, March 21, 2015

Atlantia Too Rushed to Feel Real

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Built as a refuge from the toxin-coated land Above, Atlantia is an underwater city, a safe haven for those fortunate enough to have earned a place there.  Although it's possible to leave, few do. Those left Above spend their lives slaving away in the diseased world in order to ensure the survival of those in Atlantia.  It's considered a noble sacrifice to toil away for the good of the underwater world, but not one many are willing to make.   

Although 15-year-old Rio Conwy loves Atlantia, she's always longed to live Above—to see the stars, to feel the sun, to roam in a vast land without walls.  She's finally old enough to choose her own fate, but things have changed.  With her mother dead, Rio can't abandon her fragile twin sister, Bay.  Staying Below forever is a sacrifice she has to make, no matter how much it hurts.

When Bay makes her own unexpected choice, Rio is stunned.  Her world flip-flops.  She knows she can't remain in Atlantia, but her chance to go Above has passed.  It's a trip she is now forbidden to make.  No one has ever successfully sneaked out of Atlantia on their own, but she has to try for her sister and herself.  As Rio attempts the risky escape, she must also be careful to keep her true nature a secret.  If anyone finds out what she really is, Rio would never—never—be allowed out of the Council's sight.  When she stumbles on some disturbing secrets about her world, she's even more determined to leave.  But, making enemies with the Council is not a good idea.  Can Rio make her escape?  Can she find Bay?  Or is she destined to remain trapped forever in a snowglobe beneath the sea?

Ever since I read the premise of Ally Condie's newest novel, Atlantia, I've been intrigued by it.  Especially once I figured out it's not a mermaid story, but an underwater dystopian adventure.  I expected a magical, atmospheric tale that would spellbind me with its beauty.  Did I get it?  Not exactly.  The world of Atlantia is unique, but its rules are dumped in such a rush that the setting never feels real.  The relationship between Rio and Bay unfolds in much the same way.  Their interactions are so quick and flat that, for the rest of the novel, I didn't feel any urgency for the twins to be reunited.  In fact, flat is a good adjective for my experience with this whole book—the setting lacks dimension, the characters remain mostly undeveloped, and the plot gets pretty blah in places.  All in all, I just didn't love Atlantia.  Too many leaks, if you'll pardon the pun.  While I did appreciate the risks Condie took with the story, as well as the fact that she kept it PG, overall, this one left me feeling very disappointed.  Ah, well.

(Readalikes:  Reminded me of Dark Life and Rip Tide by Kat Falls)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence and intense situations

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of Atlantia from the generous folks at Penguin via those at NetGalley.  Thank you!


  1. Sigh! Everyone that's reading this one had said it fell flat for them. Now I'm thinking I shouldn't have bought it. Maybe just borrowed it or something. Who knows, maybe I'll like it. I'm weird that way.

  2. I agree with your review. It felt way too rushed. I wish it had gone into more depth.

  3. I always thought it was about mermaids! I don't think I'll read it, I'm tired of dystopias lately.


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