Despite that the blurb from this fiction book makes it sound like it is about mermaids, it isn’t truly. It is a tale of humans living underwater once the air “Above” got too polluted. It is also a story about sisterhood and friendship. The book even ventures into religious territory with the people “Above” and “Below” worshipping their gods, and the people’s changing faith over time. It is a quick read at 298 pages. I didn’t enjoy it as much as Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy, a young adult dystopian series. But I would recommend it to Condie’s fans, those with an environmental bent, and those who enjoy a good story about female empowerment and the strong sisterly bond.
The story revolves around the relationship between those that live Above with those that live Below. Since the book is titled “Atlantia,” most of the story takes place Below. The main character is Rio is recovering from her mother’s mysterious death a year ago. She then has to grieve over the decision of her sister (SPOILERS) to live Above. About three-quarters of the book follows Rio Below, and the rest of the book of her adventure Above. I wouldn’t call this an adventure book as the pace is slow, and it’s not quite a thriller. It is like a mystery, as Rio investigates not only why her sister left without an explanation, but also into the mysterious circumstances of her mother’s death.
Rio meets True, who helps her earn money so she can try and escape Above. True is her love interest, but the romance takes a back seat to the rest of the plot of Rio trying to escape Above. Most of the book focuses on the complicated relationship between her and her mother’s sister, who is a Siren like Rio. Sirens are sort of like mermaids in that they have powerful voices, but they don’t swim underwater or have tails. So Rio slowly learns about her Siren abilities from her Aunt Maire, a shifty figure who is blamed by many for the death of her sister.
The ending is satisfying if not predictable, but the ride is worth the read. I recommend this book for readers who enjoy strong female characters and being immersed in new worlds.
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