Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Atlantia by Ally Condie

Atlantia by Ally Condie
Release Date - October 28, 2014
Publisher Website - Penguin
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 368 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received in exchange for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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.
There is something both alluring and dangerous about the bodies of water that sustain our earth. They hold dangers, and yet also hold such beauty. Water itself is necessary for our survival, and yet has the power to kill us. It's untameable and powerful. Anyone who has had dreams of being a mermaid will have dreamt of living under the sea, and Atlantia takes this premise and gives it a slight twist.

The city of Atlantia and the water that surrounds it are brilliantly developed. Little details give it a rich, textured feel. The world building, and all the little elements that go into it, is something that Ally Condie does rather well. The setting becomes a living, breathing character all own its own. The history, and way of life for the people of Atlantia, is the most fascinating element of the story.

Books with family secrets are some of my favourites. This unravels those secrets at a rather rapid pace towards the end of the novel, but the little we do learn scattered throughout is enough to keep the pages turning. The whys are what drive this story. As a reader you want to know why. You want to know the reason behind everything. It creates an addictive page turner that is a very quick read.

This story is driven by the relationship between the sisters. The romance, while there, is secondary and pushed to the background. Rio's plan is to reunite with her sister, and nothing will stand in the way of that. Especially not a guy. This simple aspect, that Rio would not lose her head over this romance, was welcome and refreshing. Everything that each of these girls do is for each other first and foremost.

This is Rio's story. We learn about Atlantia, and her experiences. I desperately wanted Bay's story of the Above. I wanted to know more of her story, and more about the Above. Where Atlantia feels solid and touchable, the Above feels abstract and unknowable. It creates mystery, but it did feel like something was missing from the story without more from it.

My only real issue with this book was the ending. It felt rushed, and not earned. It felt like the pacing between the beginning section and the end was off. A building of tension would have worked better in this case. The reveals and answers spread out more. It felt like everything came together at once, instead of gradually and it didn't feel like it meshed with the careful, quieter beginning.

A tale of sisters, secrets, and deciding your own fate. Atlantia had much I loved within it's pages, but also had some elements that I wanted more from. A story whose world building is enchanting, but whose pacing felt disjointed. Fans of whimsical, sisterhood driven novels will be swept away by it's charms.

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