As soon as I heard about this book, I wanted it. Desperately.
If a book is about the sea—mermaids, selkies, etc.--I'm already sold. But if there are :twins: in the same setting?
That's why, when I started reading this book, I was ridiculously excited—and, for the most part, I stayed that way throughout the story.
Let's talk details...
Oh, the setting :)
When I heard about Atlantia, I thought it was going to be an oceanic novel—mermaids, undersea adventure, the works—and then I started reading. Didn't take long to realize my vision of Atlantia couldn't have been farther from Condie's, but Condie had a wonderful vision, something unique and riveting in its own right. I found that element of surprise to be part of what made Atlantia itself so enchanting.
So yes, the setting was a huge shock, but it grew on me immediately. It's dazzlingly brilliant and unlike anything I've ever seen in this genre (dystopian)/sub-genre (sea tales). An additional plus: the world is vivid and believable.
In short, I loved it.
The finely-crafted mystery behind the origin, purpose, and history of Atlantia kept me turning pages, and I loved the characters; learning about the world alongside Rio was a lot of fun, and the other characters kept me on my toes.
Some reviewers remarked that the plot is obvious...but really, when you think about it, every plot is obvious—it's simply a matter of to what degree. I enjoyed the plot and found it entertaining until the end, despite the predictability of some parts. The thrill isn't as much about guessing who's behind what or the secret(s) behind Atlantia (though engaging); it's about experiencing the truth through Rio's eyes, getting to see how she responds, and rooting for her.
Also, the ending wasn't as predictable as people let on.
The Voice of Rio
...I may have virtual tomatoes thrown at me for this one....
Many reviewers found the voice of Rio to be very similar to, if not exactly the same as, Cassia's. Even though I've only read the first book in the Matched trilogy, I got this vibe of similarity, too. But I don't think the characters and their voices are exactly alike, and I don't think Atlantia is a waste of time just because both characters happen to be pale beauties in dystopian settings.
Let me address that word (dystopian) in regard to voice: Rather than being entirely the author's—or the characters'—fault that Cassia and Rio sound similar, it's also the fault of conventions behind the genre.
Personally, I think it's a no-go to 'create' a voice based off the genre rather than the character because readers will encounter the same genre over and over again...but they will never encounter quite the same character. Loads of reviewers are booing Condie/Atlantia because of the phenomenon...but she's not the only author who writes (in the genre) like this.
Nearly every dystopian I've ever read sounds almost exactly like Matched—somewhat dry, straight to the point/less flowery, quiet/thoughtful. They share a somewhat monotonous and sobering tone (my guess is because it carries a sense of weight). Sadly, it doesn't suit every character or story, and I'd love to see a few more dystopians stretch past this convention.
Anyway, my point is, Atlantia is still a good read, and Rio is still a fascinating character in a fascinating world!
My favorite part about Atlantia as a whole is its simplicity and freshness. Condie took fairly basic, classical ideas—Atlantica (little mermaid), sirens, land vs. sea—melted them down, and re-molded them. What an achievement to have created something so extraordinary from things so overdone!
I heartily commend her for this masterpiece, and highly recommend it to lovers of sea-themed and/or fantasy novels and dystopian works.
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.
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