by Ally Condie
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. (Description from Goodreads.com)
It's been a long time since I've read a YA fantasy stand-alone. I think the last one was Maggie Stiefvater's The Scorpio Races and like that book, I was pleasantly delighted when I finished the book to feel glad that it was complete in and of itself. Not to say in either case that I would not read a companion book or something set in the same world, on the contrary, I'd love to revisit both settings very much! I just mean that with so many trilogies and series out there today, sometimes it's exhausting to keep up. I loved that Atlantia wrapped up in a satisfying way.
I also very much enjoyed the worldbuilding of this novel. Atlantis has always fascinated me, but this was a new and exciting spin on it. Condie did a great job of letting me see Atlantia in my head and I was drawn easily deeper and deeper into Rio's world, wanting to know exactly how things had developed into what they now were. I loved the description of their city under the ocean and the few ways in and out of it. I loved that it truly felt like a city that could exist, slums, blackmarkets, and all.
I enjoyed the characters, too. Though they all occupied very specific roles in Condie's story, they were nuanced, as well. Each character had a persona that was then balanced by the secret parts of their characters that only came to light as Rio became embroiled in the struggle to free herself and then save her city.
As I said, though I'm glad there is not a direct sequel to this book, I most definitely would read another by Condie set in this same world!