Author: 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.
Rio was a strong, determined main character. Most of my favorite scenes revolved around her strength of will – the tests she sets for herself and the plans she comes up with. There are also some evocative descriptions that really pull you into the underwater world of beauty. The premise caught my eye; sirens aren’t often the main characters, especially with only a low level of romance.
Unfortunately, these three upsides where the best part of the book. The plot was strange and multiple questions never really answered. How would a siren draw strength from bats? Why can’t they be above water, and what does that mean? And really, how can her sister abandon her so callously, without later recrimination? I also wished there had been more about their system of gods. Whether or not they are real within the book is never even posited by the main character, herself unsure. Yet there are the ‘miracles’, the sirens.
There were some good scenes, but overall the book felt bland and underdeveloped, with too many strange facts hand-waved and too few reveals.
Sexual content: A number of brief kisses. A character says he’s seen two other characters kissing, and he thinks they have something real between them.
Violence: Twenty-seven sirens are shot and killed. Non-graphic. A couple of dead bat bodies are found. A character swims in a pool with electrified eels and fish, and receives minor shocks and burns. Part of the city is flooded off-screen and hundreds of people are drowned.