Book Review & Giveaway: Atlantia
Welcome to Reading Lark. We're honored to feature today's stop on the Atlantia Tour. #AtlantiaBelow
By: Ally Condie
Published By: Dutton Children's
Publication Date: October 28, 2014
Page Count: 368
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Young Adult - Fantasy
Atlantia is a lush and imaginative tale fraught with peril and hope. At its core, Atlantia is the story of two twin sisters - Bay and Rio. These two are vastly different, but they have a connection which can transcend space and circumstances. Bay is the one who has always been destined to work in the temple; she loves helping others and she has a heart for sacrifice and service. Bay loves the city of Atlantia with ever fiber of her being and never wishes to live beyond her home under the sea. Rio, on the other hand, is a headstrong dreamer who can't wait for her chance to leave behind her world of the Below and head to the Above. She longs to feel the sand beneath her toes and the wind against her cheeks. Rio longs to escape her watery confines to live a life where she can always see the stars. Both the Below and the Above are beautiful and sinister.
Fate intervenes and on the day when all youth must make their choice between Below and Above, Rio is forced to stay in Atlantia while her sister leaves on the transport for Above. Rio feels angry and betrayed. She knows that her sister must have a good reason for her choice, but she can't find anything that can make the reason clear. She teams up with a few unlikely allies to discover the truth behind her sister's choice, her mother's death, and the ruling body of her city. Rio soon discovers that her world and the one above hide deadly secrets and deep seated prejudices.
I honestly wasn't sure I would enjoy this one. The summary made it sound like something that was up my reading alley, but I wasn't a huge fan of the Matched series. I was nervous, but when the chance to read this earlier as part of the Atlantia tour arose, I decided to push my nerves aside and go into this with no expectations. What I found lurking within these pages opened my eyes to a beautiful and imaginative world that had me pondering human nature and the way we interact with one another. Condie's setting is like a cinnamon latte - it's rich, deep, and layered with just a hint of sweetness and spice. I found that this time around I loved Condie's writing - her descriptions are delicious and vivid, her characters are complex and likable in spite of their flaws, and her twists and turns provided a bittersweet tension. Here is a little taste of Condie's writing in this one, this description jumped off the page and wiggled into my brain: "It is honey and blood, dark and warm, golden and full of shadow. It is a beautiful voice, a decayed voice" (pg. 214). I loved trying to work out exactly how such a voice would sound. Atlantia is full of beautiful prose like the aforementioned example - it is truly exquisite writing.
I loved the characters in Atlantia. Rio drives the narration and as a result, I was limited in what I knew as a reader. Lots of secrets are hidden from Rio, but I enjoyed having a front row seat as she unraveled the mysteries of her home and society. Rio was a character that I could relate to because she longed for something beyond her home and what had always been. She longed to meet new people and see new places. I have a bit of that wanderlust swirling about in my heart as well. Rio also has to hide her true nature. In this society, sirens, like Rio, were once seen as miracles, but now they have become an oddity that inspires fear. Sirens in Condie's worlds, like those of mythology, can control individuals with their voice. Rio's hidden ability made me think of how so many times people hide their true selves from view.
In addition to Rio, I also loved True. His name is an accurate reflection of his soul. He is honest and good - just the sort of guy you'd want as a best friend or soulmate. I also found his unconditional support of Rio to be admirable. He is the perfect supporter of Rio's goals - even when they are a bit crazy.
Furthermore, I kept coming back to how this novel impacted my thinking about human nature. Aside from how people hide their true selves, I kept gravitating toward the concept of difference. Why is it that people so often fear that which is different? Why do humans live with hatred in their hearts? I don't know that I'll ever find answers to these burning questions, but I liked seeing how these factors played out in Rio's world. I would hope that I would stand up for other who were being persecuted for their differences.
Overall, Atlantia was an entertaining and thought provoking read that I highly recommend. My one minor complaint concerns Rio's time swimming and training. I felt like these moments slowed my reading pace.
One Last Gripe: I wanted to know more about water lung. This seemed to play a huge role in the lives of those Below, but it was never fully explained.
Favorite Thing About This Book: The Siren Lore - it was fascinating and unique
First Sentence: My twin sister, Bay, and I pass underneath the brown-and-turquoise banners hanging from the ceiling of the temple.
Favorite Character: True
Least Favorite Character: Nevio
Can you hear Atlantia breathing?
For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden—she has nothing left to lose.
Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths.
About the Author
Ally Condie is the author of the MATCHED Trilogy, a #1 New York Times and international bestseller. MATCHED was chosen as one of YALSA’s 2011 Teens’ Top Ten and named as one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Children’s Books of 2010. The sequels, CROSSED and REACHED, were also critically acclaimed and received starred reviews, and all three books are available in 30+ languages. Disney has optioned the film rights for the series.
A former English teacher, she lives with her husband and four children outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. She loves reading, writing, running, and listening to her husband play guitar. (Source: Ally Condie's website)
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We have a very special giveaway to celebrate the upcoming release of Atlantia and #AtlantiaBelow. One of our lucky followers will win a set of Below and Above necklaces AND a finished copy of Atlantia. This giveaway is open to US residents who are 14+ years of age. If you are under 18, you must have parental permission to enter.
The giveaway runs from October 24-30. Winner will be notified via email on October 31.