Author: Ally Condie
Reader (Audio): Rebecca Soler
Time (Audio): 8 Discs/9 hrs. & 8 mins.
Publisher (Audio): Penguin Random House Audio
Publisher (Book): Dutton Books for Young Readers
Age: YA 13+
I picked this book up on a whim for a recent trip I took & I actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It also ended up being useful as my #17 on my 2017 Reading Challenge for a book with a rabbi, priest, or minister. Overall the book wasn't bad, the story is original & the characters are likable. But it moved a little bit slow at first & I wasn't hanging on the edge of my seat throughout the story.
The story begins with two sisters named Rio & Bay Conwy. Their mother who was the cities minister has recently died & they are trying to do the best them can to cope. They live in the city of Atlantia which is found in the Below. Many, many years ago the air in our world became polluted, so to help with this problem the Divide happened. Some people were sent or chose to go Below to underwater cities like Atlantia & some people had to or chose to remain Above on islands. Each year on the anniversary of the Divide there is a ceremony where the people of Atlantia get to chose to stay in the Below or go Above to find a new life. If you are the only person in your family you must stay Below, you don't get a choice. But if you are like Rio & Bay you can chose where to go, the oldest must chose first. Rio has always dreamed of going to the Above but now that it's just her & her sister she knows that she must stay Below with Bay. In a shocking turn of events the ceremony doesn't go as planned & as a result Rio is left alone in Atlantia.
From that moment on all Rio can think about is getting back to Bay in the Above. She hatches a plan to earn some money with the help of a new friend named True & his clever inventions. With the money she wants to buy an air tank & swim to the Above. This plan is very dangerous because all that have tried this in the past have never made it. One of the main resources in Atlantia is metal that is harvested by drones in mines that surround the city. These mines & the equipment have a tendency to explode or collapse at random times which makes it almost impossible to reach the surface unharmed. But Rio is very determined to get to the Above like she has always wanted or die trying.
Along the way Rio runs into a few problems that are much more dangerous than getting to the Above. Rio has a secret that only her family knows about & she could get in very big trouble for lying about it her whole life if anyone finds out. Not only is Rio suffering from the struggle of losing her mother & sister but soon all of Atlantia might be lost. When Atlantia was formed after the Divide there was supposed to be three miracles that happened. The first miracle was the existence of the Sirens. The Sirens are just as you would expect, they are women & men who can use their magical voices to influence others. The exist only in the Below & the people Above think they are evil creatures. The second miracle was the bats. There are hundreds of blue winged bats that live in Atlantia, no one knows how they got underwater or where they come from, but they live in the temple & are treated as special beings. The third miracle has yet to come & everyone is hoping that it will help save Atlantia. The Above has threatened to cut the Below off from resources like food & building materials that cannot be produced in Atlantia.
Eventually with the help of her aunt Mare, her late mother's sister, Rio is able to discover who she really is & Mare is hatching a plan to help Rio get Above & save Atlantia. However Atlantia is slowing starting a fall apart with flooding, loss of air pressure, & people that want Atlantia to be lost to the ocean forever. Rio & Mare must get to the Above & try to convince the people there to keep Atlantia alive, but will it be too late?
Likes: The story of Atlantia is very complex its a combination of a mermaid fairytale, mythological stories of the sirens, & the legend of Atlantis. This combo makes for a story that you think you know with a new twist.
The scenery described in the book is beautiful! Atlantia exists in giant bubbles under the ocean but it is not primitive & there is almost no water. The houses in the main area of the city are painted in bright colors & there is a mix of metal, concrete, & other materials since wood from the Above is scarce. There are outdoor markets like the Deep Market & even a pool where racing happens & people can bet on the swimmers. The center of the city is the temple where people can go to ease their fears & lighten their minds to the priests & minister.
Rio's secret is something we find out about early on in the book but as a reader I didn't see why it was so important or where it would eventually go. But in the end the whole story comes together & you can see how the Above & the Below are actually one big world.
There was a little bit of a love story in the book between Rio & True but it wasn't the main focus which is a nice change from other young adult books.
Dislikes: This isn't necessarily a bad thing & I didn't not like the story because of this but I think it would have made it move faster. Rio is the main character & since here sister is gone we don't see much of the Above until very late in the book. I think the book would have been a little bit more interesting if it had been told from split view points. ***But that would also change the story & take away from the ending making it move in a different direction.***