Buy This Book
Other books by Ally Condie
Other books you may enjoy
“You can’t let love make you afraid,” Marie. –Atlantia
by Ally Condie
The underwater world of Atlantia has been Rio’s home forever, but she dreams of living in the Above. When Rio has the chance to choose where to live, she wanted to choose the Above. But when her mother dies everything changes. Rio knows she must stay in the Below with her sister Bay. But when the day to choose comes, Bay makes the unexpected decision to go Above. Rio is stranded in the Below with no family. Now Rio only has questions. Was her mother murdered? If so, who wanted her dead? Why did Bay choose to go to the Above?
While Rio searches for her answers, she must hide her own secret. She has always hidden her powerful siren voice. When Rio’s estranged aunt Marie suddenly takes an interest in her, Rio wonders if Marie has discovered her secret. Can Marie be trusted to help Rio go Above, or will Marie lead her into danger? Rio hopes that Marie can answer her questions, but soon she learns that Atlantia’s history is more complex than the people have been told. Rio must listen to the voices of the past. And in the process, she hopes to save herself and her city.
The world of Atlantia is described in beautiful detail; however, the descriptions of a complex religion and history of the city make the beginning of the story slow. Although Rio is an interesting character, many may have a difficult time relating to her. When her sister Bay leaves to go to the Above, Rio is devastated and only thinks about how to join her sister in the Above. Because Rio had always planned to leave her sister, her motivation for going Above doesn’t ring true.
Atlantia is full of mystery, intrigue, and a dash of romance. Told from Rio’s point of view, readers get a look into what the world could look like if people destroy the land above the sea. Through Rio’s experiences, the reader will learn several positive messages including the importance of speaking up for yourself and others. Rio learns that many of the problems between the Above and the Below come from misunderstandings and fear. “People fear those who are different when really we are so much the same.” Rio realizes that “in order to save our city, we have to love each other more than ourselves.”
The ending of the story leaves a lot of unanswered questions, but it also has several surprises. Readers who want to read about mermaids should leave Atlantia on the shelf. Even though the story has sirens, the sirens are humans with a voice that can control people. If you enjoyed Ally Condie’s Matched series, and want to read more from the same author, just be aware that Atlantia is lacking the same action and suspense that makes the Matched series so enjoyable. Readers will either love or hate Atlantia. Some will find the slow pace and the lack of character development frustrating. However, others won’t be able to put the book down because of the mystery and the interesting premise.
- Someone saw Rio’s sister kissing a boy. The person said, “I don’t want to speak for them. But yes, it did seem like there was something between them. Something real.”
- True kissed Rio. “Right here under the trees, right here on my lips, and then on my neck, his fingers strong on my back, pulling me hard and close to him. . . He is good at this. I am good at this. We are good at this.”
- Rio and True are on a gondola when “true’s lips brush against mine and I kiss him back. We hold each other tight. Earlier, under the trees, we were hungry and relieved to touch each other. We are still hungry.”
- Rio and True kiss. “True’s lips skim my cheekbone and then he finds my mouth and I kiss him back, reaching to touch the beautiful planes on his face.”
- Marie tells a story about two siren sisters who fought in the temple. Their voices killed some of the worshippers who, “fell with blood streaming from their ears and terror in their eyes.” Because of the sisters, the Counsel put the sirens under their governance. One of the sisters didn’t agree with the new rules and committed suicide by drowning, “herself in the wishing pool.”
- Rio’s mother was killed by the Counsel. The members, “called her in for a meeting. When she arrived, they gave her something to drink, as was the custom, and they had each put some of the poison in her cup. They all did it.”
- When a transport takes a group of sirens to the Above, they are killed. “Another siren starts to run. Before she’s taken more than a few steps, the people in the boats shoot her down too. . . She doesn’t even breathe, only bleeds.” The scene takes place over several days.
- One of the leaders of the Above is killed. The murder is not described but Rio sees the body and the “wild hair and his poor, dead face. I put my hand on his chest, but I feel no rise and fall, no heartbeat.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- The gods gave Atlantia a miracle by sending sirens, people who can use their voice to control others. “There have never been two sirens from the same family line. We’ve always believed that the siren voice was a gift from the gods, not simple genetics. In order to be a minister, a person must show that they “cannot be swayed by sirens. They are chosen, in part, for their ability to resist.”
- Marie, a siren, has the ability to communicate through a shell. She gives Rio a shell and tells her, “all you have to do is ask a question into that shell and then listen for the answer to come back to you.” Marie can also record voices into the shell, but the voice can only be used once.
- Marie can, “hear voices from people who are gone. Who died hundreds of years ago. I hear voices in the walls of Atlantia, especially siren voices. They’ve been saved up, embedded in the walls.”
- One of the characters can tell if a siren is telling a lie. “If I listen closely, I can hear something in their voices when they’re not telling the truth. It sounds like the wrong note in a song.”
- Atlantia’s gods are the same gods as the ones above, but they take different shapes. When the people came to Atlantia, the leaders, “assigned land-animal faces and bodies to the gods for those of us who worship Below, and sea forms for those Above.”
- The Atlantia religion was, “agreed upon by the sirens and the people together. They studied old histories. They learned about the gods. And then they shaped it all to fit the way their lives were. The Counsel took our religion to the Above, and the Above began to believe as well.”
- The people of Atlantia are taught that those who live below have a “short life, illness, weakness, and misery. . . It is fair. It is as the gods decreed at the time of the Divide. Some have to stay Above so that humanity might survive Below. . . Thanks to the gods for the sea where we live, for the air we breathe, for our lives in the Below.”
- Rio’s mother told her that, “some people say that the sirens are miracles, not people. . . Can you imagine believing such a thing? People can be miracles.”
- Rio’s mother told her, “The gods know everything. . . They know how difficult this is. And they are pleased with you.”
- Rio’s friend said, “I believe in them (the gods) so much that I don’t think they need statues everywhere to be powerful.”
- When a portion of Atlantia has to be sealed off, many people die. Rio prayed, “and it’s not to Efram or any of the tiger gods, or any of the gods at all. It’s their faces I picture; it’s hers. My mother’s.” Later, Rio again prays to her mother and the gods.
- Some people worship Rio’s mother and light candles for her.
- Rio learns that “the temple, the gods, all of it, was a façade, a conceit. It was a way to make things more beautiful. . . No one thought of the gods as gods. They thought they were gargoyles. Decorations.” But later, the “people came to believe.” Later Rio wonders what it would be like to fashion your own gods.