Atlantia Literary Elements


Young Adult Fiction; Adventure

Setting and Context

The underwater city of Atlantia in the not-so-distant future

Narrator and Point of View

The novel is narrated in the first person by sixteen-year-old Rio, a lifelong resident of the city of Atlantia and a siren.

Tone and Mood

The book is written in an easily comprehended style. However, the mood of the book evokes longing and secrecy; Rio desperately desires to go Above and see her sister again, and all of the main characters are harboring secrets.

Protagonist and Antagonist

The protaganist is Rio, a sixteen-year-old girl living in Atlantia. The antagonist is the Minister Nevio.

Major Conflict

The major conflict in the novel is between self and society. Rio wants to get Above and see her sister again. However, the rules of Atlantia prohibit this; a person is given one chance to decide where she will spend her life, and then she must live out the rest of her days with that choice. Rio also struggles with her identity as a siren, which her mother has kept secret to ensure her safety. Additionally, Rio must oppose the sinister Minister Nevio, who is indifferent to the fate of Atlantia.


Rio's confrontation with the people of the Above in the temple marks the climax of the novel.


When Maire meets Rio in the marketplace after the ceremony of the Divide, she says to Rio, "Can't you hear the way the city is breathing?" (32). This suggests that Atlantia is approaching a time of crisis, and that Rio will be the one to remedy it.




The names of Rio and her family members are derived from words used to refer to bodies of water, a significant theme in the novel. Maire's name resembles the Latin word for "sea" ("mare"). "Rio" means river in Spanish and Portuguese. "Bay" is an English word referring to a body of water enclosed on three sides by land but connected to a larger lake or ocean. Oceana's name closely resembles the English word "ocean." The names of these characters also demonstrate elements of their personalities. Rio is drawn to both the Above and the Below, and rivers run along the surface of the earth. Oceana is known for her depth and compassion, and Bay is closely connected to her mother.


See Imagery


Rio has used her voice very infrequently; however, rather than atrophying her voice, this lack of use makes it stronger. This paradoxical situation is ultimately what saves her when she confronts the people of the Above in the temple.


One example of parallelism is the tale of the two siren sisters whose fight in the temple marked the decline of the sirens. This was the only known case of two sirens being born into the same family - at least until Maire and Rio. There is some fear among these characters that they will cause similar levels of disaster, but in fact, Maire and Rio end up redeeming and saving the sirens.

Metonymy and Synecdoche



The city of Atlantia is often portrayed as a living entity; characters frequently make reference to the "breath" of the city, which is in fact the complicated oxygen system that provides air to the residents of this underwater world.