Review: Atlantia by Ally Condie

January 7, 2015 3 stars, Book Review 22 ★★★

Review: Atlantia by Ally CondieAtlantia by Ally Condie
on October 28, 2014
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Length: 9 hours, 7 minutes
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.

Can you hear Atlantia breathing?

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


​Atlantia is somewhat of a genre mash up of science fiction and fantasy. Set in an underwater city on the ocean floor in what I assume is Earth’s future. The main character is a girl named Rio whose sister Bay betrays her by taking her only chance to live on the surface.

The benefit of the doubt

Rio is so much nicer then I would have been in her place. She believes there must be a really good reason for Bay stealing her lifelong dream of going to the surface. I guess I can honestly say I don’t know if I would have reacted similar since my sister is also my best friend. I just think I would have been more bitter.​ Does that make me mean? Hey hey – I love my sister…a part of me would think she had a really good reason too. Anyways Rio is determined to get to the surface and find out the reason why Bay left knowing that she was destroying her dream in the process. Along the way Rio makes friends with a young man named True who’s best friend also chose to go to the surface without telling him why.​

A smidge of a romance, more of family emphasis

There is a slight romantic element that comes into play between Rio and the boy True. I liked that this wasn’t a book about teen romance. It was there because romance usually is in a teen’s life but the emphasis of this story was really about Rio, her personal struggles with her abilities and her relationship with her sister, mother and aunt. It was nice seeing that Rio put those things at the forefront of her mind throughout the book.

The fishy details

The background behind how some of humanity ends up living in under water cities is that the surface world had become too toxic to live in so these cities were built and purple were sent down there so humanity could survive, and the surface people ​support the​m​ by sending down supplies.​ I had a few peevy moments about the details in regards to the historical and current background that deals with life under the sea, the surface dwellers supporting them and how very preposterous that would be for the city to COUNT ON the topside people to continue to supply food and materials for them if the whole premise of humanity needing to go live underwater revolves around the fact that all the folks left topside were going to die. That part just wasn’t solid enough for me and it kept bugging me as the story progressed. The bulk of the story takes place in the city of Atlantia and covers Rio’s attempts to figure out ways to get to the surface and trying to raise money to reach that end. She ends up doing some form of water racing with the help of True’s little mechanical inventions to draw a crowd. She muddles over several different ways  to get to the surface.

​Let me hear that siren song

This is where the mashup of fantasy comes into play. While living underwater humanity some very small subset of people are born “sirens” with voices that can compel people to listen to them and do whatever they say. There isn’t any sort of reasoning given behind how this happens which I would have expected a little bit of one given that I viewed this as more of a science fiction book rather then a fantasy but I was able to roll with it. Obviously one of the main characters had to be a Siren for this to come into play and that person just so happens to be Rio. And her and her mother/sister have been hiding Rio’s abilities her whole life because sirens have all sorts of service and restrictions laid upon them that her mother didn’t want her to be subject to.​​ When Bay leaves to the surface Rio starts to have all sorts of inner turmoil dealing with her family, why her sister left, and aunt who is also a Siren (and is now aware Rio is one as well) and starts a very hesitant relationship with her.

​What it boils down to

Atlantia was a quick, very light on the details that could be easily breezed through in a sitting or two.​ Don’t expect a lot of depth on the background of the world building though but it was nice to see family relationships as the focus here rather then romantic ones.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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22 Responses to “Review: Atlantia by Ally Condie”

  1. Jess @My Reading Dress

    First off can I just tell you how much I love the format of your reviews. I adore them, Tabitha!

    See, I tend to like my world building unless the characters REALLY win me over. I’m just worried that I won’t connect with the characters in this one which is why I’ve been avoiding it. That and the fact that I thought it was mermaids before everyone else told me otherwise.
    Jess @My Reading Dress recently posted…The Book of Ivy #1: The Book of Ivy by Amy EngelMy Profile

  2. Emily Alfano

    I heard alot of good things about this book and it’s been on my TBR for a while now! A little dissapointed to hear you only thought it was 3 stars, but maybe that’s for the best so I don’t waste my time reading it then!

  3. Alise

    I’m with you, I’d have been much more upset if my sister, or anyone really, left me there. I do really like how it focuses on other relationships rather than just the romance, but it’s a shame that more isn’t told about the world or background.
    Alise recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday [48]My Profile

  4. Bec @ Readers in Wonderland

    It does seem really strange that Rio would have such a tame reaction to her sister stealing her chance to achieve her dream. If one of my sister’s did that I would be PISSED I mean, I get really mad at them when they steal my food!

    I really thought that a book like this would have an overly heavy focus on the romance to it’s great to hear that it doesn’t! I’m definitely more likely to pick it up now! Especially since Sirens aren’t something I get to read about often.

  5. kim { Book Swoon }

    I have to admit the siren and underwater theme caught my attention right away, but this kind of disapointed me- “The whole premise of humanity needing to go live underwater revolves around the fact that all the folks left topside were going to die.” That’s pretty serious and I would have wanted some deeper explanation. This still sounds fun though, I will just keep in mind for a fast read. Thanks Tabitha 🙂
    kim { Book Swoon } recently posted…Young Adult Book Review: Invisible by Dawn MetcalfMy Profile

  6. Valerie

    Ahh I have this book but I’m not sure how I feel about the rush through all the world building and the details. In the end, I’ll probably read this, but I’m not that motivated at the moment.

    Nice review Tabitha! I’m glad you enjoyed it at least! At least there was family relationships!
    Valerie recently posted…Review: Blue Lily, Lily BlueMy Profile

  7. Danya @ Fine Print

    I like that the emphasis is on the family relationships. Sometimes those books just work out a lot better than the YA romances do…but of course it’s nice that there’s a cute romantic subplot. I’ve not had good luck with Ally Condie in the past (ugh Matched…WHY) but I’ve got my eye on this one. I may have to pick it up sometime!
    Danya @ Fine Print recently posted…Review: The Young Elites by Marie LuMy Profile

  8. Kirsty-Marie

    Nope, it doesn’t make you mean, or if it does, it would make me mean too because I’d feel the same. And yay for light romance instead of the usual. Though, the background doesn’t sound that plausible, oops. At least it’s a quick read, and focuses more on family dynamics. 🙂
    Kirsty-Marie recently posted…Review: Rogue WaveMy Profile