Atlantia by Ally Condie
I read the Matched trilogy and while it wasn’t the best YA dystopia I’ve read, I enjoyed it enough to finish the series and invest in the characters. So when I saw author Ally Condie had a new YA dystopia out, which takes place underwater, I had to give it a shot.
I didn’t love it. I tolerated it.
Atlantia is the story of twin sisters Rio and Bay (and their deceased Mom, Oceana… whoa with the water-based names), who live in the underwater city of Atlantia. In the past, there was a time called the Divide, where the poor air quality of the Earth forced half of its inhabitants to live Below, and the other Above. Those who lived Above were said to have shorter lives, and to live their lives in service to those Below. When residents turn sixteen, they can choose whether they want to live Above or remain Below (hmmm… sounds familiar… Matched? Divergent?) When Bay makes a startling choice, Rio is left alone to answer unsolved questions.
It sounded interesting. I wanted to know more about the Divide and life in an underwater bubble, but what I got was a longwinded book about feeling left out.
I just didn’t care. So what Bay went Above? Rio spends the entire book chasing after the reasons her sister left, but won’t actually listen to the one person who has the answers. She’s narcissistic and spoiled, and all she cares about is that her sister took her chance at living Above, a dream she’s always had, only to find out later it was done to protect her all along. She feels stifled because she can’t use her Siren voice, but they made such a big deal about her saving it, and then I didn’t really feel the pay off at the end. What does it mean to be a siren? How do you use the power? THESE ARE THINGS I WANTED TO KNOW AND READ ABOUT, not how sad she was that her sister left.
Rio establishes early on she wants to go Above, and will stop at nothing to do so, even though EVERYBODY tells her it’s impossible and she will die. She doesn’t care, and risks everything anyway. She decides how she’s going to do it, and then attempts it, even though there’s a BETTER SOLUTION offered to her, one that doesn’t involve her risking her life, and one she has to end up taking anyway.
And then there was True, a super nice boy who likes Rio and is not only immune to sirens, but can tell when they’re lying. So he can call Rio on her BS and help her with her is-she-lying-or-not? Aunt Maire, but does Rio spend any time getting to actually know him and find this out? No. Again, a waste of pages, and a waste of a male love interest on such a boring character.
I wanted to know more about what it meant to be a siren, and how it would affect her. I wanted to know more about what it was like to live in the underwater bubble city of Atlantia, and I had a hard time picturing it. I also didn’t really understand why Oceana was so revered in the city, and what other lifestyles the residents could choose from. All I got was priest, council member, or mechanic… no, thanks.
I felt like the writing of this book was rushed, and that while Condie had an interesting idea, she didn’t have the time or the knowhow to follow through with it.