A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Atlantia -- by Ally Condie, author of the acclaimed Matched trilogy -- takes the classic dystopian formula and takes it underwater. Climate change and pollution appear to be behind the creation of Atlantia, which is served by citizens who essentially are sacrificed to work on land to support the city. Religion is central to the city's politics and daily life, but the gods worshipped by people Above and Below are fabrications, part of a mythology built to support the new society. There are some grisly scenes described with spare detail, including corpses and a massacre.
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What's the story?
Rio had always dreamed she'd leave the undersea city of Atlantia when it was her turn to choose a life Below or Above. But the sudden death of her mother has changed everything, and Rio has vowed to remain with her twin sister, Bay -- but Bay, who seemed so devoted to Atlantia, shocks her by choosing to go Above. Rio, forbidden from following her, is left alone with her grief and questions and a very big secret: She's a siren with extraordinary powers the people of Atlantia both revere and fear. Rio's determined to defy the rules and escape to her her sister Above. Despite her reservations, she finds herself drawn to her mother's estranged sister, the feared siren Maire. Her aunt tells her stories of how Atlantia used to be, leading Rio to start imagining what Atlantia could become.
Is it any good?
ATLANTIA opens with great promise: intriguing characters, a creative and carefully explained mythology, and a heart-wrenching conflict. But the story loses steam after a few chapters, and reading through to the end feels like treading water. Author Ally Condie created nuanced, absorbing characters in her popular Matched trilogy. But, aside from Rio, the inhabitants of Atlantia feel like half-finished sketches.
We spend most of our time in Rio's head, and she's an interesting heroine: She turns hurt into strength with extraordinary determination. The story is at its best when it focuses on her grief and ambition. It flounders when it deals with the requisite villain and his plans for world domination, relying on propped-up plot points to nudge the story along. This is a shame, because Atlantia flirts with hefty themes involving religion, power, and civilization. Fans of Matched may relish this standalone novel, but newcomers to Condie's writing are unlikely to get hooked.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of dystopian stories. How does this compare to other dystopian novels you've read? What elements are similar? How is this one different?
The gods revered in Atlantis aren't real, but several characters have great faith. What do you think the author is saying about religious faith?
Do you think Rio's family was right to conceal her true nature?
- Author: Ally Condie
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Brothers and Sisters, Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Dutton Books
- Publication date: October 28, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (abridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: September 24, 2020
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