Author: Ally Condie
Publisher: Dutton Children's
Length: 298 pages
Source: Library Book
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.
Protagonist: For as long as Rio can remember she's wanted to go see the world Above. Trapped in an underwater city, she only gets the choice to go Above once and until recently she's planned on taking that chance. However, after making the decision to stay with her sister Bay, Bay chooses to go above, abandoning Rio to the world of Atlantia. What's worse is that Rio has a terrible power she's kept hidden her whole life, a power that should have been reported to the proper authorities as soon as possible, but now it's too late. Rio has nothing left to lose and do whatever it will take to defy Atlantian law and make her way Above to be with her sister and find out why Bay betrayed her. I really like Rio, she's a strong character who will do whatever it takes to see her family reunited and discover the truth. Her siren's voice power is something she's had to hide her whole life, to do that she's had to adjust her voice to be flat and emotionless, because of this she's seen as an outsider. Over the course of this book she grows to accept who she is, her purpose, and the secrets her family has kept from her.
Romance: There isn't too much of a romance in this book. At least not compared to other YA books. The romance in this book grows slowly over time. There's a small bit of romantic tension there from the beginning, but for a while it was more about a growing friendship between Rio and her love interest than romance. I have to say, it's a breath of fresh air every time I read a book where the main character isn't constantly trying to figure out their feelings about their love interest when more pressing matters are present. That's exactly how this book went. Rio wasn't agonizing over her feelings for her love interest, or whether she actually had any. Instead she focused on her objective of escape and the romance just came about naturally. Beyond the two actually admitting their romantic feelings, things seemed to unfold naturally and I really rooted for this couple with my whole being.
World Building: For the longest time I had assumed this book was about merfolk. The cover and title made it seem so much like a merfolk story, and when I started it I was surprised to find that not only are the characters human, but that this reads more like a dystopian rather than a fantasy or paranormal tale. There is a paranormal element to it with the existence of Sirens or rather those referred to as Sirens. We don't get much of an explanation as to where and how the Sirens came to be, other than the religious belief of the Atlantians. For the most part I found the world-building not only really sound and relatively free of plot holes, but interesting as well. I found myself engrossed in this world and the secret histories that Atlantia held. If I had to have one criticism it would be that sometimes the motivations of certain individuals didn't really make that much sense.
Predictability: Looking back over the events of this book, I've found that I wasn't surprised by much. Don't get me wrong, this book has some crazy twists that I did not see coming. It's more that the smaller things, the twists that mattered but not as much, were easy to see. Somehow, getting those smaller twists right, made not getting the larger ones that much more awesome and interesting. Normally it's the other way around for me. Where I'd easily pick up on the larger, more impactful twists, and then the smaller things would catch me by surprise. Atlantia has a lot of secrets and it was so much fun uncovering each and every one.
Ending: This book is a standalone, and yet towards the end I could see this being a series, more specifically a trilogy. It's not as though things were left up in a the air, or that things were tied up too quickly and too easily, but more that I could see various ways the story could be drawn out. That being said, I really enjoyed the way this story ends. The final climax isn't a physical showdown, but more of an intellectual fight for survival. Pretty much everything in this story is wrapped up, and why I say pretty much is that while all the important things are wrapped up nice and neat, there's a little door left open. I don't know if this author plans on revisiting this world, and I'm not asking her to, I'm just saying that from where I'm standing I can see how it wouldn't be too hard to write a companion story.
I really enjoyed this book, it's a fun and interesting standalone take on the dystopian genre, and while there are a few things that bothered me a bit, it's still pretty awesome!