Atlantia Study Guide

Published in February 2014, Atlantia is a powerful coming-of-age-story about finding one's voice. Rio is a sixteen-year-old girl living in Atlantia, a city built underwater to preserve human life after the surface of the earth was rendered uninhabitable by pollution. When her sister decides to go to the surface, she tries every means necessary to see her again - and discovers a terrible conspiracy in the process.

The novel draws on themes and imagery from Hans Christian Andersen's tragic fairytale The Little Mermaid, including voice, sisterhood, love, and sacrifice. Like the little mermaid from Andersen's tale, Rio is a girl from the ocean who longs for another world, even though she will never be well suited for it. Atlantia is also shaped by the myth of Atlantis, first described in Plato's dialogues as an ideal kingdom plagued by corruption. The Atlantia of the book is also threatened by political actors who would wash away the city and its unique culture.

Author Ally Condie noted that inspiration for Atlantia also came from the young women of her church youth group; she noticed how wonderful and smart they were, but how they were also inundated by societal messages that their worth was in their bodies, not their voices. Condie notes, "I feel like young women's voices, even now, are not desired, not requested by society at large. I think we're doing a lot to change that, but I feel like it's something very important that we could do better: listening to those voices and encouraging young girls to talk."

The book has received acclaim from readers and critics alike, though it has not yet approached the commercial success of Condie's Matched trilogy. Reviewers praise the elegant world-building and engaging plot, but note that the book attempts to force a number of details and gloss over certain plot holes.