Atlantia by Ally Condie

Deep in the ocean, the city of Atlantia has helped to preserve the humanAtlantia1race, but for one girl it becomes a prison from which she must escape.

In  Atlantia people are safe, safe from the toxins that pollute the Above, safe from a life of hard work, dedicated to taking care of those in the Below. But every year the youth in the city are given one opportunity to change their destinies, to leave the safety and ease of life in Atlantia and instead live in the Above. Once the choice has been made there is no turning back.

Rio has spent her entire life waiting for this moment, the opportunity to leave the only home she’s ever known and go Above but after tragically losing her mother she’s promised her twin sister Bay that she will stay Below with her. But when Bay makes a surprising choice Rio finds herself alone, scared and determined to get out of the city, no matter how difficult it might be. As Rio searches for a way out, she begins to learn the secrets of the city, and soon sees that Atlantia is not the Utopia those in charge claim.

Rio also harbours a secret, one that if discovered will ruin the minute bit of freedom she has. Desperate, she turns to the only family she has left, her mother’s sister Maire, the most powerful Siren in Atlantia. Ruthless and cold Rio can’t bring herself to entrust her fate to a woman she’s convinced played a role in her mother’s mysterious death. Determined to get out on her own Rio takes her fate in her own hands and in doing so discovers just how powerful she is, and maybe, just maybe finds someone worth staying in the Below for.

Pulling from the idea of the lost city of Atlantis author Ally Condie presents a bleak future world where the only way to maintain a healthy civilization is for the many to sacrifice health and longevity for a minority who in turn must give up the sun. Main character Rio is not easily likeable, but she’s unwavering in her desire to leave and as the story unravels Rio’s strength blossoms into an unfaltering stubbornness that refuses to allow others to control her fate.

Atlantia is a standalone novel which seems like a rarity especially when dealing with dystopian settings and though generally a standalone is a welcome change of pace in the YA world in the case of  Atlantia it feels a little unnatural, there is a sense of rushing that leaves something to be desired. That being said the overall concept is fascinating. Author Ally Condie paints life in Atlantia as as a troubled world with a utopic facade but lets the reader in on the city’s secrets quickly, giving more purpose to main character Rio’s plight.

Why You’ll Love It
Atlantia is riddled with strong female characters – some have a quiet strength (Bay), others one that is sinister (Maire), even in Oceana, Rio’s deceased mother, a power emanates from just the memory of her. And of course heroine Rio is tough as nails.

Choice Quote: “Do you hear the city breathing?”

 

Atlantia is published by Dutton Books and is available for purchase October 28, 2014.

This post was originally published on The O’Deary Library

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