Friday, January 23, 2015

Book Review: Atlantia

by  Ally Condie
Date Read:  1/21/15
Rating: ★ ★ ★

I would really give this closer to 2.5 stars.  The concept of this book was great.  At first I was expecting mermaids – in my defense, other people did as well! When I re-read the description of the book, it’s a bit vague.  My history with sirens is that they have a tail, so my brain filled in the empty details from the description and made them mermaids.  Alas - it is just an underwater human city, similar to Atlantis.  As I started reading this book, I got very interested in seeing how it all turned out. What is the Above really like? How did the Divide really happen?  Why did Rio’s sister, Bay, make the decision she did?  How did the Siren's come to be? 

However, as I read further, I stared wondering, “Is this ever going to get interesting”? The book was really slow. It had the feel of being set up for a series in which the entire first book was setting the world and the conflict and the big revelation about the world.  But as the revelation and conflict were revealed, it wasn't nearly as big as I was expecting it to be. And then the book tied up a couple knots and it was over. There is even an epilogue that occurs at a later point in time.  It felt like this is going to be a stand alone book.  I wasn't satisfied.

Why wasn't I satisfied? Well, for starters, it was really hard to understand why it was so hard for Rio that Bay left her.  I never met her sister before she left, so it was really hard to buy in to the fact that she just loved her sister so much it was hard to be without her.  As my husband so eloquently stated, “There was no ‘Do you want to build a snowman’ scene”.  One of the many things that Disney does well is take 3-4 minutes and set up a relationship you adore.  The other one I think of is “UP”.  You watch an entire love story unfold within a matter of minutes and your heart just breaks.  But there was nothing setting up this relationship other than the fact that they were twins.  My mom is a twin. I know for a fact that just because they’re twins, it doesn't mean they’re going to have this unbreakable bond. They’re just siblings that may look like each other and were born the same day.  Unbreakable relationship this does not make.

A majority of the book was Rio complaining about missing her sister and complaining about wanting to go Above, complaining about not being able to use her “real voice”. Speaking of that (pun intended!): if I saw one more sentence saying “real voice” I was going to scream.  That’s the hard part with writing about Sirens – there was no way for her to get across when a siren voice was being used versus just a regular voice. If it was me, I would have italicized the text or something, just so I wouldn't have had to specifically state to the reader every time whether it was a real voice or a siren voice, on top of the fact that Rio was constantly "hiding" her real voice from the world.

About 75% of the book was Rio trying to get up to the Above.   She put together a master plan and worked toward it the whole book. Boring! [Spoiler: I was getting tired of watching her swim and try to increase the stakes at her swim sessions. The bombs outside the city seemed a little over the top – basically just creating a way that she couldn't swim up. But honestly, most people know you couldn't safely swim from the bottom of the ocean to the surface without incurring brain injury (have you seen Agents of Shield - see "Decompression Sickness"?!). So the bombs seemed unnecessary to me.  And in the end, none of that even mattered because that’s not how she reaches the surface.  All that build up and her plan was foiled within 2 pages of trying. What a giant waste of my time! End Spoiler]

There was one big reveal that I wasn't expecting which was refreshing.  It comes toward the end of the book, so it almost redeemed it.  However, the big conflict was over basically by talking to people.  What other book had such a big build up to the most anti-climactic end?  BREAKING DAWN.  I think that is still the biggest let down I've ever read in a book.  But this book was almost as anti-climactic.  At least in Atlantia, there wasn't a big build up to a massive fight. I just kept expecting something much bigger than it really was which is why I was let down.

So overall the concept was really good, but the execution was less than perfect.  I feel like this story needed to be edited a couple more times before it was published.  It had a lot of potential.  I enjoyed the Matched series much more than I did this book. The book isn't terrible.  I was just hoping for a lot more than I was given. 


Olivia-Savannah said...

I was also expecting mermaids and reading this review has made me realize that it is not actually about that xD I have read the Matched series by the same author and though it was good it wasn't amazing. I would like to try another of her books and see how it measures up.

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