Author: Ally Condie
Who’s it for? Teens
What’s it about? Rio dreams of leaving the underwater city of Atlantis and living in the world Above. But all Rio’s hopes for the future are shattered when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected choice, leaving Rio stranded Below.
Atlantia is crumbling. Guided by an unlikely mentor, Rio begins to ask treacherous questions about her destiny, her home and the corrupted system that governs the Divide between land and sea. Her life – and the fate of her city – depends on Rio listening to the voices of the past, and her willingness to speak the forgotten truth.
(Blurb taken from the book)
What’s good about it? It’s such an intriguing idea! I mean, I haven’t read a story primarily set under water since I read Katya’s World and that was years ago now. But there’s rich detail supplied about Atlantia and the world Rio inhabits, even to the detail on how they fix their ‘trees’ – metal constructs designed to replicate the real thing above.
Rio’s a great main character as she’s not a classically “good” person. Not in the way her sister Bay is, always looking out for the greater good, whereas Rio is – to put it bluntly – mostly self-serving in her motives. At least in the beginning anyway. Forced to hide part of herself from the world, Rio has been apart form most of her peers, with Bay as her one constant companion. Until the day Bay makes her choice. To be honest, Bay doesn’t get much development beyond being Rio’s twin and being good, but then this isn’t her story.
It struck me when I finished reading it that there’s not actually a lot of action in this story. And I hadn’t even noticed. It’s really well paced despite not having a lot of physical action to move the story along (there’s no big fight scene for example).
The romance was not the main plotline!!! It was there, but it wasn’t the main motivation and ultimately didn’t affect the decisions Rio made, which was so refreshing.
What’s bad about it? I’m not wholly convinced that Bay’s decision makes sense. Basically, despite it being explained, I still don’t get it.
The verdict? I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I had read Ally Condie’s first trilogy, Matched, and to be honest, got more than a little bit frustrated with that, so I wasn’t expecting much. But I motored through it in one sitting and I really, really enjoyed it. It’s a standalone story as well, which made a pleasant change from all the multi-book series and trilogies that I’ve been reading for the past few months.
It’s a decent, solid read and one that I’d certainly recommend you try. If you like books with plenty of action and fight sequences, this may not be the book for you. But it is well-paced with brilliant world building and a romance sub-plot that both feels genuine and isn’t the actual focus of the story. Ultimately, it’s about family and the bonds between sisters, and I think that may have been the most delightful part of reading this.