Review: Atlantia by Ally Condie

Posted September 25, 2014 by Lillian in Reviews / 3 Comments

I received this book via Penguin First to Read. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.

Review: Atlantia by Ally CondieAtlantia by Ally Condie
Published by Penguin Books Limited on 2014-11-06
Length: 336 pages
Reviewing eARC from Penguin First to Read

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.

Atlantia by Ally Condie is an incredible story about two sisters, their love for one another, one’s betrayal, and the other’s search for the truth. Rio Conwy is eighteen years old and a siren living in the underwater city of Atlantia. She has always dreamed of going Above. On the anniversary of the Divide, all eighteen year olds make a choice to go Above or stay Below. After losing their mother, Bay, Rio’s twin sister, begs her to stay Below with her, to not leave her alone. Rio reluctantly makes that decision. However, Bay doesn’t. She leaves Rio Below for the Above. Rio is heartbroken, alone, angry, and determined to get to the Above and find out why her sister would leave her.

Character Breakdown

Love Rio!!!! Oh my goodness, I cannot say enough how much I love this character. Rio is broken when we first see her. During the very beginning pages of the book, she is grieving for her mother that has been dead only a few months and a father she never knew. Then her sister leaves her Below and she is now grieving and angry. Rio is strong, determined, and fierce. She has a way about her that other’s notice and seem to like her for. But she is also a siren. Sirens in this world are hated and feared, when they use to be revered. So for her entire life she has hid this part of herself. Can you imagine the strength it would take to hide a part of yourself? I can’t, but she does and does for a majority of the book. I find her very brave!

I’ve had to spend my life hiding my voice, and she’s had to spend her life protecting me, and that’s not what either of us would have chosen. We’ve both suffered because of what I am

No not because of what I am. Because of the way people fear those who are different, when really we are so much the same. ~ Rio Conwy

Though Bay technically isn’t in the book very much, she is a central character. Through Rio’s thoughts, the reader gets to know Bay. Rio believes she is the kinder sister, the more thoughtful. And she is definitely the sister to work in the temple as she cares for the people in a way Rio believes she never could. At first, I felt sorry for Rio and kind of disliked Bay because of what she does to Rio, but as the book progresses and motives are revealed I fall in love with her. She is just as brave and selfless as Rio believes her to be.

Then there is True, the handsome boy Rio meets in the temple. Though he’s never seen sun, Rio describes him with sun-kissed skin and eyes the color of soil. (Rio’s favorite color is brown 😉 ) True is like his name, faithful, loyal and honest. When his best friend chooses the Above at the same time as Bay, he seeks out Rio. They form a friendship, that turns to love in true Condie fashion. It is very reminiscent of the relationship that built between Cassia and Ky. I honestly believe I’ve found my new book boyfriend.

The Plot – World building at its best!

Atlantia would not have worked for me if it hadn’t been for the beautiful descriptions and the slow immersion into Rio’s world. Ally Condie does a fantastic job at this. It’s no wonder that she is a best selling author! The descriptions of the underwater city and their way of life is described as it occurs to the character. It’s easily developed as Rio thinks about different events in her life, like the description of the Divide during chapter one as Rio and Bay get ready to chose if they will go Above or stay Below. I’ll be honest, when I read the synopsis I was expecting a mermaid story. That isn’t the case! This is a dystopian world, set into the future. It’s wonderfully written and of course one of my favorite genres.

“I can help you get Above,” Maire says, her voice fading, haunting. “But it has to be soon. We are running out of time. Can’t you hear the way the city is breathing?”

This last question is asked over and over again in the book. It’s haunting and a reminder that more is going on than Rio realizes. Rio’s only concern is to get Above and find her sister. But she slowly uncovers information about the sirens, the new minister, her mother’s mysterious death, and she finds herself with only one person she completely trusts, True. Both hide secrets from each other though and Rio makes it her mission to uncover the truth once and for all.

My Conclusions

Obviously, if you’ve read this far, you know I love this book! Ally Condie is phenomenal. I was a bit hesitant starting the book because I loved her Matched series so much. It was the first book I read that was a dystopia and it hooked me to the genre. There was no reason for me to be hesitant! Every word, every character, every plot twist is memorable. I found myself reading as fast as possible and late into the night because I couldn’t leave Rio and True. I had to know what was going to happen with the sirens and if Rio would make it Above.

I can safely say that this is a new favorite book of mine and while I did receive a copy for review, I will be buying (or possibly requesting from my hubby for Christmas) a copy. Though there is no mention that there will be a sequel, and it does end without a cliffhanger, I believe the author has left it open to bring back the characters or their world and tell more about them. If not, it’s a great standalone! If you enjoy young adult fiction, if you enjoyed the Matched series, if you enjoy dystopian worlds in general, I highly suggest you get this book asap. It’s not one to be missed!

About Ally Condie

Ally Condie is a former high school English teacher who lives with her husband, three sons and one daughter outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. She loves reading, running, eating, and listening to her husband play guitar.

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