Atlantia by Ally Condie
Release Date: October 2014
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.
‘Atlantia’ by Ally Condie (author of the Matched and Yearbook trilogy) is currently up on NetGalley as a sneak peak – the first 42 pages.
Written in first person, we meet twins Bay and Rio (though her name, as narrator, we don’t learn until page 23 unless you read the synopsis). The introduction is written beautifully, describing the world they’re in, quickly giving the impression they live below in the ocean, from how it describes the colours – how they would be colours of flowers from Above, but Below are the colours of coral.
We find the twins as part of a ceremony, one that involves two bowls; one filled with salt water, and the other filled with dirt brought down from Above. We find that the twins are quite alone – no other siblings, and both parents have died young, though they have an Aunt Maire still alive.
During the ceremony, it seems that whenever young people come of age, they pick one bowl or the other. Since the divide, the air Above became polluted and people can no longer survive long lives in such conditions. Still, some must live Above so those Below can survive, and those who choose to live Above shall be rewarded in the afterlife. They also get to see the stars, feel the sun, touch a tree, and walk for miles without coming to the edge of the world as you know it.
We then see Fen Cardiff making his choice – to sacrifice himself to the Above. We’ll probably see more of him somehow, as he’s introduced as handsome and charismatic, with dangerous, laughing eyes.
We’re also offered an interesting tidbit as the main character, still unnamed at this point, goes to speak.
‘I close my eyes and will myself to speak in the right tone – the flat, false one my mother always insisted that I use, the one that hides the curse and gift that is my real voice.’
We then see Rio choose to remain Below as she has promised her sister, even though she craves to be able to go Above. And then see Bay betray her sister, choosing to go Above, and we know that Rio can’t change her mind now that she has chosen first officially during the ceremony, and we see Rio use her true voice in her shock and anguish, which turns those around her in shock. We still don’t know what that voice could mean.
And this is how chapter one ends.
The sneak peak continues on, though I won’t continue to recount it here. I love the idea of their markets selling pure air and spices such as cinnamon and saffron. We learn how their world Below is built, and get a sense for how big the underwater civilisation is. We also learn what Rio means earlier regarding the curse and gift of her voice.
Overall, even though I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Matched series, I’ll certainly be looking out for this book as soon as it comes out, and hope to get my hands on an ARC if I could be so lucky!