Author: Ally Condie
Publisher: Dutton Children’s, 2014
Genre: Young Adult – Dystopian
Page Count: 368
My Rating: 2 stars
Where to Purchase: Amazon, The Book Depository, Barnes and Noble
Synopsis (from goodreads):
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.
Before I get into the review, let me just point out that this book is horribly mis-marketed. If it had been marketed properly, I probably would not have picked it up. From the synopsis and the cover art, it is implied that this is going to be a mermaid story. It is not. It is a dystopian taking place in an city enclosed underwater. This wouldn’t be a problem, except for the fact that I wasn’t even able to finish Condie’s other dystopian series, Matched. If I would have known I was heading into another dystopian, I probably would have passed on this one.
As with Condie’s Matched series, I found the world building in this story to be lackluster. There is a strong focus on the religious beliefs of this society, but other than that, there is no real reason given for why the rules, regulations, and rituals of the society exists. We also are not given much actual description of what is probably a very cool underwater world.
The characters of Atlantia are also pretty flat. I found our main character to be very similar to the main character in Matched. I didn’t understand many of her motives. She discusses how disconnected she felt from her twin sister, but then is spending all of her time trying to get back to her sister because she “needs” her. It doesn’t match up. Thankfully, this story was lighter on the romance than Matched was, and that was my biggest concern. I wasn’t attached to the romance in this story, but I wasn’t particularly bothered with it either. The villain was also a mustache-twirling bad guy, and very one dimensional.
Lastly, I found the plot generally enjoyable. It was a slow read at times, but there was a mystery element to it that I found engaging. Parts of that mystery element did drag, but overall, I still wanted to know how everything was going to turn out. By the end, I was left with all of my questions answered and was glad it wasn’t extended out into an unnecessary trilogy.