Atlantia is a young adult fantasy stand-alone novel by Ally Condie (author of the Matched trilogy) set in an underwater utopia called (surprise) Atlantia.
When you first look at the cover of this book and read the synopsis printed on the dust jacket, it sounds a lot like it’s about mermaids, or perhaps a retelling of the Little Mermaid. And in a way it is.
Hundreds of years before the events of the story the Earth (what the characters refer to as Above) became polluted and generated lots of illnesses. In order to save the human race, Atlantia was built. Those that live Below live healthier and thus this allows them to prolong their lives. Those that chose to remain Above have sacrificed themselves for their families. Each year on the anniversary of the Divide between Above and Below, new adults are given a chance to choose to go to the unknown world or remain in Atlantia. By law each family must always have one member down in the city to keep their bloodline in tack.
Our main character, Rio, has always dreamed of going Above. She had that “Ariel the Little Mermaid” mentality of wanting to explore the dangerous and wonderful world beyond the ocean. Rio’s dream is put to the side however when her mother suddenly dies, leaving Rio and her twin sister, Bay, on their own. Rio promises Bay she won’t go Above so they can stay together. To everyone’s surprise, Bay chooses to go Above, which means Rio can never go. Rio is in a constant daze, trying to figure out why her sister left without an explanation and searching for a way to escape to the world Above.
Now, I liked this story, don’t get me wrong. It was cute and interesting, but it seemed to drag on in certain parts. I was hooked from the first page and couldn’t put it down. But as Spring Break drew closer and closer, I had schoolwork I needed to focus on. Every night I would pick up this book, ready to be swept away from quizzes and assignments that had been puling up. Unfortunately that didn’t really happen except for maybe once or twice. I know it’s hard to get caught up in a book’s universe when you’re busy, but isn’t that kind of a necessary trait we as readers want?
I felt like Rio started to be very repetitive in what she was doing and thinking. She was very indecisive about who she could and could not trust with information of her sister’s departure and her mother’s death. Her determination to get to the Above consumed her so much that she ignored everyone telling her she would die trying to leave. She even made her friend make electric robots that would shock her underwater while she was trying to earn money as a swimmer/performer. Seriously, Rio, Tris Prior, and Bella Swan are the three literary characters I think I’ve read in the young adult genre who are so unbelievably reckless and stupid when confronting the possibility of death. (I know there are probably way more, but these three really take the cake.)
In terms of numbers, this was about a 2.5. I would like to read this again because there were a lot of things that I enjoyed, but it won’t automatically go in the automatic rereads pile.