Review: Atlantia by Ally Condie

Mythology, Recommendations, Review
Image from Goodreads
Title: Atlantia
Author: Ally Condie
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: Nov 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5
Synopsis from Goodreads
Set within a civilization that lives deep beneath the sea, twin sisters, Rio and Bay, are about to make the most important decision of their lives. Will they choose to stay Below, sacrificing their soul but living in happiness, or to go Above, keeping their soul but living in weakness and misery. No one could have predicted their choice.
I have just finished reading Atlantia and can honestly say it has now become one of my favourite books.
The story begins with Rio and her twin sister Bay having to make a life changing choice. They have to decide whether they want to stay in their world beneath the sea called Atlantia or venture into the world above.
Rio Conwy is a tough young lady who has been forced to hide her true self for her own safety. For this reason, Rio can appear slightly cold hearted, but as the plot progresses I started to feel an affinity to Rio and her situation. Ally Condie’s writing style creates empathy allowing the reader to place themselves in Rio’s position.
Rio has always dreamed of leaving her family and Atlantia behind to go above so she can leave behind the weight of her mother’s death and finally feel a sense of freedom. However, after her mother was murdered, Bay made Rio promise that she would stay below in Atlantia with her so she would never be alone. Although, unknown to Rio, Bay has hidden her real plans from her, making the decision to leave Rio alone in Atlantia.
Confused by Bay’s choice, Rio has now been left alone it Atlantia longing for answers – Why did her sister choose Above? Why was her mother murdered? Who murdered her mother? The only person Rio felt she could turn to was her mysterious aunt, who also happens to be a suspect in her mother’s murder. She then becomes friends with True, a young man who like Rio has been left alone in the Below. With his whole family having been victims of a life threatening condition called Water Lung, True is as lonely as Rio. Because of their similarity, True and Rio are drawn to each other and form an unbreakable friendship.
Guided by her mysterious aunt, Rio sets out on a journey to uncover the truth about the connection between Above and Below and the reason for her mother’s death.
Atlantia has a number of terrific plot threads, however, my favourite aspect of the story is how True accepts Rio for who she really is. I like that despite Rio’s carefully constructed mask she hides in order to protects herself, True is able to see past her barriers to the beautiful person underneath. Showing no matter how many faults you perceive yourself to have, there is always someone who will accept you for who you are.
I also liked Ally Condie’s personification of Atlantia, it was easy to picture Atlantia as a living creature. The idea of the ‘voice’ of Atlantia and the myth surrounding Atlantia ‘breathing’ played an important part within the narrative giving depth to the setting and the plot.
The only part of the story that I disliked was how Rio gave in when it came to fighting.  Don’t get me wrong – I liked the way the plot developed but she should have shown more care with the amount of lives she was responsible for. Despite that, I still would have liked to have seen the Sirens take a more active role in their defence. I think the inclusion of dynamic action by the Sirens would have benefited the plot as a whole.
While I liked most of the characters I had my favourites Rio, True and Maire; despite each character having their own secrets they prove to be trustworthy. This shows me that even though you have your secrets, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t trustworthy or that you’re a bad person. I also liked how the characters had their similarities (Not having a lot of family), this made them easier to come together and work efficiently.
Although I disliked Bay at the start, by the end I was able to warm to her because of how much she cared for her sister. Though I still found her a little selfish because of how she left Rio behind without explaining to her why she left. Overall. I found all of the secondary characters three-dimensional and their personalities believable and easy to relate to.
I would definitely read another book by Ally Condie, her ability to set the scene and build the world of Atlantia within the imagination was amazing. Adding to that, I have to point out the world building only made sense when it was fully described. Initially I felt as if Ally Condie left out a few minor details to the description of the world she created within Atlantia, which when a later explanation was given changed the way I imagined it to be. Although this did not detract from my overall enjoyment of the story.
Atlantia contains themes of death and murder making it suitable for the age range 12+ in my opinion.
I enjoyed the point of view, the first person narrative made it easy to sympathize with the character as you were given more detailed feelings and thoughts of the character. It affected the way the plot developed by sometimes giving reasons as to why the character did certain things they did or how they felt when something happened. By knowing the feelings of the characters during the story, it helped with the story be adding extra details of how much certain events affected the characters.
After reading the book and having read the descriptions of the surroundings, I think that the timing of the story is futuristic. If the book was placed in this time, the plot would have been very believable, but because I wasn’t told when it happened so had trouble interpreting whether the plot was believable or not.

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