By Ally Condie
Published October 2014
Published by Dutton
Published by Dutton
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.
I believe my first words describing this book to someone were "UNDERWATER DYSTOPIA OMFG!!!" Which basically sums up my feelings on this book quite nicely. The novelty of it alone was enough to have me interested in this book from start to finish. Unlike Ally Condie's other works that I've read (the Matched series, previously or soon to be reviewed here on Best Books Ever depending on the order that posts go up,) this is very much not a romance. It's a story of sisters, secrets, and stories told beautifully in a setting that I hadn't encountered before with just enough of a smattering of Greek Myth to propel that nerd in me forward
Rio is, in a word, driven. She has one goal and will achieve it at all costs. There is a potential love interest, yes, but he is definitely not her priority. She has a mystery to solve and a dream to achieve and gods help her but she is going to do it. Beyond the heroine Ally Condie crafts for us, she also builds an intricate underwater world that I had a good deal of fun imagining while I was with this story. She deals with the evolution of cultures and the complexities of living underwater quite nicely. For the first time in a very long time, I've actually been brought to care enough about a universe to want more set in it, to want a prequel far enough in the past to learn what it was like for these first people choosing to venture below. There are some hints throughout the book about another faction of people who went to space and the question of what happened to them. I don't really care about what's going on in Space Dystopia, but if Ally Condie ever decides to write about it, you can bet I'll be there reading it. For now, I plan on rereading Atlantia just for the worldbuilding. Hollywood, if you're gonna decide to pick one of Ms. Condie's works to make a big budget summer blockbuster out of, please, please do Atlantia. The Matched series is good and super popular right now, yes, but you could do so much awesome water stuff with this and it'd be amazing. Do it. But read the book first.