A Stagnant Siren | Review of ‘Atlantia’


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By: Cynthia Ayala

Atlantia presents a unique story on the concept of Atlantis however it feels to deliver with lacklustre characterization.

Author: Ally Condie

Published: October 28, 2014

Publisher: Dutton Children’s

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction/Dystopia

Rio has always wanted to escape Atlantia and see the world above, but since the death of her mother, life has changed for her and her sister. When her sister Bay makes the unexpected wish to choose the path above, to live a sacrifice to keep the world under water alive, Rio is thrown through a loop. But when her choices and decisions to seek a way above reveal unnerving truths about her mothers’ death, Rio learns of a conspiracy that puts Atlantia in danger. The only way to save those she loves is to reveal her deepest and darkest secret – that she is a Siren. But can she do it alone?

Atlantia is the newest novel by best-selling author Ally Condie. Published October 28, 2014 by Dutton Children’s publishing house, the novel takes a spin on the mythos of Atlantis by combining young adult, fantasy and dystopian science fiction genres.

This novel wasn’t bad but the characterization could have used more work. The novel follows Rio as she deals with the loss of her twin sister who chose to leave her and become part of the world above, a world separate from Atlantia. The separation begins to take a toll on her, as she is now alone with a secret of being a Siren, one of the miracles of Atlantia, a person who has a voice that can control others. However, it’s a secret she keeps hidden to herself by the orders of her mother who died months earlier. The character goes through a lot losing everyone who meant something to her as well as losing her dreams, but the narrative, her delivery, doesn’t leap off the pages or inspire emotion from the readers. In fact, Rio is stale and her sister, not much better. Honestly, at the end of the day, it is hard to believe these two are twins considering they just won’t talk to one another, leaving Rio to get herself into immense trouble and a larger mess. Granted, this does allow the plot to thicken and catapult the reader into a conspiracy of incredible proportions that allows Rio to become the savior, but in the end, the character herself – Rio – is just stale.

Condie may have failed with the sister dynamic and the characterization, but the overall novel was entertaining, especially for readers who like the mystery genre. While the novel is not centered in the mystery genre but it has that element that allows the story to become interesting, especially when Rio continues to tie the past to the present then to her mother’s death. The story itself is incredibly more interesting that the main protagonist. In fact, the character that shines the most in the novel is Rio’s aunt, the Siren-Witch Marie who has incredible power and the perfect attitude. Readers can visualize this character; can see her very clearly due to her narrative. Marie is a very interesting character who has incredible talents. Marie even outshines the main protagonist in their scenes together.

Atlantia is not a bitter disappointment, nevertheless, the narrative and characterization could have used some work because the visuals, the scene specifics and mystery element were the only redeeming qualities. ★★ ½ (out of 5 ‘ | C+)

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