Author: Ally Condie
Publisher/Year: Penguin Young Readers Group 10/28/14
Length: 320 pages
Can you hear Atlantia breathing?
For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamed of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all Rio’s hopes for the future are shattered when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected choice, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long silenced—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 corrupted 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.
I’ve been meaning to read this for ages now, especially since i got a teaser of the first chapter or so several months ago and FINALLY got around to it. I think that if you’re familiar with the Matched Trilogy, you’ll have an appreciation for the story that Ms. Condie paints for us, and in this stand alone – you’re really pulled into the bit of dystopia and fantasy story.
What we have here is a tale of a world that is trying to survive after The Divide – which to be honest, i still have no idea what it is. What we know though is that some folks were sent to live ‘below’ in order to survive while some live ‘Above’ in a world that’s not really fit for society to thrive. Each year, on the anniversary of The Divide, people are given the choice to go ‘Above’ as a sacrifice when they come of age, and our leading character – Rio has always wanted to go above. She’s chosen to stay below to stay with her sister Bay since they are all that each other really has left since their mother died (of questionable causes) and their aunt Maire is a Siren and is feared by society. It’s on that day though that Bay does something so surprising and chooses to go Above that turns Rio’s world upside down.
The other issue is that we learn that Rio is a Siren as well yet her ability has been hidden since she will be taken and feared etc, but throughout this story, we learn that maybe there’s more to being a Siren than we thought and it’s going to be Rio’s job to help us realize that there’s a great power.
Along the way, Rio meets True Beck who is close friends with another boy that chose to go Above, and we begin to see the tie there with Bay and the friend. True takes us on the journey to understand why their friends left, and what that means. Rio is still destined and determined to get above, and that’s the process that we see in this story.
While i think that it was a sweet story, i’m still left wondering ‘what caused all this’ and ‘what does it mean’. I feel like there wasn’t enough done to really lay out the history and while it’s not uber necessary, i think that it would have helped me understand why living above was such a bad thing. I feel like the end was also a bit rushed, but it put us in a place to find true resolution to the story and potentially have hope. I was expecting this to be part of a series to be honest, although i knew that it wasn’t – so that’s something that i had to keep resetting in my mind too.
In any event, it’s a true YA, and it’s enjoyable to say the least. You get the nice character development that we had in Matched and i think that it’s a quite different from other things that our author has written to make it pretty nice to read as well.