By Ally Condie
Can you hear Atlantia Breathing?
For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamed of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all Rio’s hopes for the future are shattered when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected choice, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long silenced—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 corrupted 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.
Ally has a truly beautiful way of writing in this latest novel. It’s as if we hear a singing melodic voice as we journey with Rio, who has spent her life hiding her true voice. This is an introspective novel, one that focuses, not on the world Rio inhabits, but on her own self-discovery and growth. I’ve seen many negative reviews stating that this novel is boring and the world building is non-existent. These reviews miss the crux of this novel in my opinion. Atlantia is a novel about family, about sacrifice and about learning to find yourself and love who you are despite everything else. I really resonated with this book, which pulled at my heart in the simplistic way that Ally was able to bring Rio’s inner struggles to life. Can you hear Atlantia breathing? That’s what the flow and tone of this book was like, at times it breathed quietly, other times it wheezed and strained, sometimes it screamed for air, and then you are breathing quietly once more. The simple beauty of this book is like feeling the sunlight on your face in the middle of winter, something you have to stop and be still to appreciate fully. It’s lovely.
I give it a 4 out of 5