Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
Atlantia Book Poster Image
Strong heroine, creative premise, but a floundering fantasy.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 11+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers may be inspired to explore stories of mythical Atlantis. There's some food for thought on how religions grow, adapt, and change.

Positive Messages

We're strongest when we're true to ourselves. Love often requires faith and sacrifice. Great power should be wielded with wisdom and restraint.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Rio's resourceful and very close to her family. When she's overwhelmed by doubt and questions, she's open-minded and willing to consider uncomfortable truths. Her mother is compassionate and protective. Her friend, True, is supportive.


The violence is mostly offscreen but can be troubling: political imprisonment, murder, and massacre. No grisly details, but some unsettling moments involving dead bodies, and one troubling scene involving betrayal and a mass killing. 


A few kisses.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

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Teen, 15 years old Written byBookfan123 December 17, 2014

A good read

It may lack in plot, but it has a refreshing tone and scenery. I loved this book, the characters (though True seemed a little robotic) and the story. You won... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byalphagirl2020 October 10, 2020

Squeaky clean, but somewhat uninteresting

It was a slow read for being 300 pages. Good characters, ok fantasy world, but just a bit pointless. Ok, so Rio has a magic voice and she and her sister get sep... Continue reading

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?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dystoptian novels

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