Atlantia by Ally Condie Review: Bland Siren Story

November 17, 2014 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 2 stars, Books, Reviews

Atlantia by Ally Condie Review: Bland Siren StoryAtlantia by Ally Condie
Published by Penguin Australia on November 6, 2014
Source: Publisher
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository
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Rio dreams of leaving the underwater city of Atlantia and living in the world Above. But all Rio's hopes for the future are shattered when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected choice, leaving Rio stranded Below.

Atlantia is crumbling. Guided by an unlikely mentor, Rio begins to ask treacherous questions about her destiny, her home and the corrupted system that governs the Divide between land and sea. Her life – and the fate of her city – depends on Rio listening to the voices of the past, and her willingness to speak the forgotten truth.

Don’t get Atlantia, the underwater city mixed up with Atlantis, because they have absolutely nothing in common except for being underwater. I thought Atlantia was going to be rich in culture and history and contain many historic buildings, but what we got instead was a bare bones story about bats and sirens.

Somehow the book had a weird dystopian feel about it, referring to the city “Above” and “Below” which is where Atlantia is. For some reasons not explained well, these people don’t like each other and they the people above want to kill all the Sirens. There’s an oddly religious angle here about the people from Above worshipping mermaids and sirens which are the people Below, and the people Below worshipping gargoyle statues and bats from above. The world building was pretty much confusing and didn’t make any sense.

There are two things that I’ve always known for certain: that I have to see the Above and that I love my sister. 

I have no idea how Sirens came about either, and it just so happens that Rio is one of them. Rio is as bland as the characters come though, as she uses this flat, monotone voice with people so they don’t find out she is a siren, where she control people to do her bidding. I found her character to be really annoying and bland. The whole book features her questioning every single thing she sees or hears, and she really, really likes to ask questions when being told something important. Pages of dialogue will bounce back and forth between her questions and people answering them.

While I did like the concept of Sirens being explored, there wasn’t enough depth or character building here to hold my interest. I had so many questions that went unanswered, like how can the people in Atlantia breathe underwater? Why does Rio so easily be able to tell one of the key secrets of her Ministers when the whole population cannot? Why is Rio’s aunt continuing to help someone who killed her own sister?

He is good at this. I am good at this. We are good at this. I close my eyes, and I listen. To his breathing, and mine. 

There is something about the way the book is written, with blunt, short sentences and lots of repetition used that made it stunted and frustrating to read. Perhaps it’s just the author’s writing style that isn’t for me, but I remember enjoying Matched when I read it a few years ago, but much has probably changed since I started book blogging.


Atlantia just wasn’t the book for me. While it did contain an important focus on family and an interesting concept about Sirens in an underwater world, there just wasn’t enough depth, world building or character building to hold my interest. It is a standalone though, so at least there’s that.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Thank you to Penguin Australia for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review. 

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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45 responses to “Atlantia by Ally Condie Review: Bland Siren Story

  1. Kat Kennedy

    I knew there was a reason I didn't read this one. Your review just convinced me of it.

    How confusing between Atlantia and Atlantis. And kind of misleading too.

  2. Naomi

    I absolutely hated matched! I found it quite a boring series where the characters were completely bland and the plot was shaky. The cover is gorgeous with this one but I think I will be expecting the same dull and confusing plot in this one.
    Naomi @The Perks Of Being A Bookworm

  3. Bec Graham

    I almost bought this book the other day, but I am so glad that I didn't. I need a decent story and fleshed out characters!

    If you like the sirens mythology, sirens are kinda mentioned in the Beautiful Creatures series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. But they're even more focused on in the Dangerous Creatures series (same authors) 🙂

  4. Eugenia

    I haven't had the chance to read this yet, but I will be starting it soon. It sounds like it has a good premise and I have liked Ally Condie's other works, but I have seen some reviews that have found flaws in the story as well. Thanks for sharing your honest opinion Jeann 🙂
    My recent post Waiting on Wednesday: The Conspiracy of Us

  5. Awh no, Jeann. It sucks that this book wasn't for you D: I think the story sounds kinda interesting, but the lack of world building and explanations would no doubt get on my nerves.

    Bland MCs are always disappointing, and I am not a fan of the name "Rio", either. Names are so important to me, haha.

    Hopefully your next read is a better one, lovely <3
    My recent post Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

  6. How sad, I was hoping to finally find a mermaid (slash sirens because they're kind of similar-ish…in my mind anyway, haha) book I might like. And the cover is so pretty ): Unfortunately, it sees like you're not the only how didn't find this one fantastic, so I think I'll skip.

    Thanks for the review, Jeann! …Oh I didn't realize that this was a standalone. That's kind of nice, haha. I just remember enjoying Matched, but with each book, a little less, ha.
    My recent post Teaser Tuesday: The Raven Boys

  7. Man, this book has a gorgeous cover though 🙁 So sad that it didn't live up to it. I almost bought this one on impulse when I saw the awesome cover art, now I'm glad I didn't because so far I have not heard a single good things about it. Rio is also quite a distracting name to be honest… I keep thinking about the movie Rio and stuff lol. Hope your next read is better!
    My recent post Stacking the Shelves #4

  8. Huh for some reason I never really thought of Atlantis but I'm surprised I didn't. Anyways I never read anything by this author yet, and I have the worst luck with underwater or mermaid or any sea themed book so I'm not sure this one would be the one for me. I've seen very mixed reviews of her Matched series too her books seem to be really love or hate, huh!? And i'm a big character reader so flat characters with no substance is a no-go for me. Bleh.

  9. This seems to be the general consensus and I'm annoyed because because BECAUSE. I mean, look at that cover. My bookshelf wants it so bad 🙁

    I wanted this to be kind of like Little Mermaid turned totally evil. Like a Grimm Brother's Little Mermaid type deal.

    • Oooh Little Mermaid turned evil, there's an angle I would totally read! That sounds freaking awesome! *hint hint nudge nudge*

  10. Ebony

    Sorry you didn't enjoy this one more, Jeann – it sounds like an utter snoozefest! I hope your next read is better. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

    • Thanks Braine, you've just given me the idea that I would be really intrigued in books about other water creatures other than mermaids and sirens. Hmmm I wonder if there are any good ones?

  11. *sighs* I wasn't that big of a fan of Matched, so I was a bit hesitant about going into this one, but, after reading your review Jeann, I think I've decided to give it a miss. I'm definitely not a fan of underdeveloped world-building or monotonous characters / writing. Thanks for sharing though – sorry this wasn't what you hoped it would be! 🙁
    My recent post The Young Elites

  12. "I had so many questions that went unanswered, like how can the people in Atlantia breathe underwater?" <——That is the biggest question of all, isn't it? That would annoy the heck out of me.

    I think that Alantia is just not for me. As in the writing style, I don't think I could take it. I read Matched a while ago as well and was not crazy for it at all. It was so simplistic, you know? And I think I wanted something more from the writing. It's sad to see that that still remains so perhaps I'll skip out on this one. Fantastic honest review, Jeann! xx
    My recent post Is There Such A Thing as Being Turned Off By A Character's Quirks?

    • Yeah, I was just scratching my head all the way through because it sounded like an underwater city where they could all breathe but then they'd have to wear a mask if they left it but was it ever explored? No. Or not that I remember, anyway. The writing style was definitely simplistic but like left no personality whatsoever. It was just repetitive too. Thanks Jess!

  13. I wasn't a fan of this either. For some reason I was thinking it was a mermaid book, until I started reading it. Instead of thinking Atlantis, my mind immediately went to Atlantica. So yeah, thought it was about mermaids. Definitely agree about the bland characters, everyone felt really flat and like there was nothing to them. I felt we didn't delve deeper when it came to the characters, the world or the sirens. The middle part of the book really dragged for me too, when she just spent most of her time swimming.

    • Oh you know what, if I thought it was a mermaid book I wouldn't have picked it up. I have yet to find a good one lol! Interesting, I never thought of Atlantica. I totally agree that it was just so monotone and even all the characters were. Agggh that middle of the book felt like all she was doing was asking people questions and questioning everything, it was so obvious.

  14. I actually just finished this one too Jeann, and although it was entertaining in parts, hardly anything made sense and that ending! I have no idea what that was. It's supposed to be a standalone, but it left everything open ended and didn't provide any explanations, what happened to half the characters? it wasn't bad, I've rated it slightly higher than you have, but as you said, it was really bland and not memorable whatsoever. I didn't mind Matched, but after book one that series went downhill as well.

    Great review Jeann, hopefully your next read will knock your socks off <3
    My recent post Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney

    • I know, it was just so inconsistent all the way through. I tried really hard to stay positive but yeah, so many things that just weren't right. In particular, I just want to know about that weird aunty. She had such a weird characterisation, kind of shady and mysterious but then her end actions were like huh? Thanks Kelly!

  15. LilysBookBlog

    To be honest I wasn't all the interested in this one when I first heard about it but I totally thought the world building and history of Atlantis was going to be explored in Atlantia so hearing from you that it wasn't upsets me. Hopefully your next read is more enjoyable Jeann!
    My recent post Sublime: Review

    • Yeah, I totally did the same as you and thought it would be about Atlantis or at least something similar to it, but there wasn't much of that rich culture I was expecting. Thanks Lily!

  16. This may sound totally weird, but underwater books just freak me out — the thought of that makes me completely claustrophobic. Based on the reviews I've read, I think I will wait for another series by this author..
    Jen @ YA Romantics

    • They are pretty freaky aren't they? Yeah, I just don't think this one was my thing unfortunately. If only there was more world building.

  17. Well, I, for one, am glad that I never did get the draw of sirens/mer books. This one was soooo off my radar it's practically in outer space. Lol.

    Good luck on your next read, hun.

  18. I was so excited for Matched when it first came out but I hated it when I read it. The characters were bland and boring, the plot went nowhere and it just wasn't the book for me. Atlantia sounds exactly the same. I'm intrigued by the prospect of sirens but from the sounds of it, the whole book is executed poorly. Such a shame 🙁 I hope you next read is much better lovely xx

    • It's such a shame, I guess her writing is very specific huh? I did like Matched back in the day before I started book blogging, so I'm not sure lol. Yeah, the sirens were interesting but I just wasn't a fan of the character. Thanks hun!

  19. WELL YES. I totally agree. My thoughts are about the same as yours. 😉 I liked the family aspect, but…I was so bored. o.O It just seemed to drag and nothing happened. And the voice did feel kind of juvenile. But honest, I was dosing off in places. I don't even understand why Bay was so mean and didn't tell Rio anything and just kept abandoning her. And at the end when Bay was going to abandon Rio AGAIN?!! I started to really doubt these sisters relationship. -_-
    My recent post Atlantia by Ally Condie || Actually….not about mermaids

    • OH CAIT don't even get me started about the family. What the hell was with the aunt, how shifty was she?! And Bay, if she just learnt to TALK to her sister beforehand then none of the story would have happened. Review twins <3 and we're about the same height as well, HUZZAH. Totally twinsies!

  20. karawrites15

    Such a shame about this one! I, too, remember reading and enjoying Matched a few years ago–but considering I've never picked up its sequels I'm not sure that's saying much. As for this one, I haven't really got high hopes for it. I'm going to read it, though (that cover it just so damn gorgeous!) but from reading this, I'm already getting the feeling I won't like it much!
    My recent post Weekly Wrap Up (38) &amp; Stacking the Shelves (20)

    • Yeah, I never ended up picking up the sequels either. I think it reminded me too much of Delirium back in the day, they had similar stories. I hope you enjoy it better than I did though!

  21. huh… i never liked matched much, and this one is utterly confusing! it sounds like one of those dystopians ideas that had potential but were poorly developed, pity :/ and i'm quite surprised that this is only a standalone, few dystopian these days are.
    My recent post that ’20 things’ about me tag

    • Yeah, I totally didn't expect it to be dystopian, more paranormal than anything because of the underwater world. I don't think dystopians are very popular anymore!

    • I know, still keen to hear your thoughts so I can read different opinions on it! Hope you enjoy it more than I did, Emily.

  22. I read the sampler for this one and didn't really like Rio's voice at all, she seemed whiny and annoying, but I was extremely intrigued by the world building and the world's mythology, but if neither of those are properly developed and Rio remains as annoying through the book… I think I'm skipping this one!
    Great review Jeann!
    My recent post Showcase Sunday #49!!

    • Yeah, her voice was kind of jarring, I think it was in the way the author wrote. But then I referred back to the preview for Matched so it wasn't that, I think it was intentional. Thanks Pili!