Thoughts on Pages #11: Atlantia

Monday, December 8, 2014

This is a tale NOT about mermaids (as I found out literally in the first five pages) that I met with skepticism, but surprised me at the end.


"Can you hear Atlantia breathing?

For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamed of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all Rio’s hopes for the future are shattered when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected choice, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long silenced—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 corrupted 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."


I liked Rio - the main protagonist - a lot more than I thought I would. Her character is believable; she wants to go Above (like Ariel from "The Little Mermaid") but is bound by her promise to her sister Bay, who may or may not have tricked her into staying Below. Plus, she has her own abilities as a siren to contend with...and hide. The majority of the story is her figuring out answers to a bunch of different questions: Why did her sister leave her behind? Who killed her mother? Why is her mysterious aunt trying to get into contact with her? And, most importantly, how can she get above?

That final question is what drives Rio's story, and it's how she meets True Beck. She forms a friendship with him which starts to develop into something more. (By the way, the romance was my favorite part of the story. It's written very well, and it doesn't obscure the quest Rio eventually undertakes, but I wanted to see more of True and Rio in the story.)

The side characters feel somewhat inconsequential. If characters mentioned more than a few scenes, then they're important. Otherwise, some side characters may only see three scenes before the first half of the novel is over. 

The villains were interesting, and acted in a way I didn't expect. They fit the story well, and their development was just as believable as our heroes' (read: their intentions were made clearer as the book went on).

Highlight for spoiler: I wish the sirens had more power than just speaking. I think more magic could have helped the ending feel more climactic than it felt.


Atlantia is beautiful. I always loved reading the descriptions of this underwater city peppered throughout the book, because it was kind of what you'd expect an underwater city to be, only with more color. It felt believable, especially at night, when the light was "grainy" and the dark was more absolute (because they were quite literally at the bottom of the ocean).

I had a hard time figuring out where the Above was. I knew that Atlantia was right below that (as it's called the Below), but judging by the description I as a reader got from it (which I can't reveal too much about because spoilers), it almost reminded me of Sorrento or the Tuscany region of Italy. I liked the Above, but as a setting, it felt underdeveloped and kind of threadbare in comparison to Atlantia.

My Thoughts

I was curious to read this book, mainly because I bought a signed copy of it at a Books-A-Million. I'd read Matched, so I was interested to see how this particular book played out...especially since it's a stand-alone.

I loved the setting, and the genuine nature of Rio's character was pleasant on the page. I even liked the romance, as short and minor as it was.

However, this book didn't completely blow me away. The plot felt very muddy at times and was slow in parts, and the climax didn't wow me like I expected it to. I wanted more resolution with what was happening Above. However, I'm satisfied with the ending, and I'm satisfied with how the characters developed and how the settings were portrayed.

I give Atlantia by Ally Condie 4 shells out of 5.

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