Monday, June 13, 2022

Review: The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

by Olivie Blake
Release Date: March 1st, 2022 (First published January 31, 2020)
2022 Tor Books
Kindle Edition; 375 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250854513
Audiobook: B09HN3KXMP
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

Each decade, the world’s six most uniquely talented magicians are selected for initiation – and here are the chosen few...
- Libby Rhodes and Nicolás Ferrer de Varona: inseparable enemies, cosmologists who can control matter with their minds.
- Reina Mori: a naturalist who can speak the language of life itself.
- Parisa Kamali: a mind reader whose powers of seduction are unmatched.
- Tristan Caine: the son of a crime kingpin who can see the secrets of the universe.
- Callum Nova: an insanely rich pretty boy who could bring about the end of the world. He need only ask.
Five, they are told, will be initiated. One will be eliminated. If they can prove themselves to be the best, they will survive. Most of them.
My Thoughts
The Atlas Six has one of the most interesting premises I have read in a while, and I was instantly intrigued.  A secret Alexandrian Society? Check. Magic? Check. Danger? Check. And more secrets? Check. It had everything I love in a fantasy novel, so I shouldn't have had a problem reading this, now should I?  Unfortunately, the problem was not in the concept, but in the execution.  It was so character driven that I actually found myself bored at times, and I had to force myself to pick it up and continue.  I think I read two other books while I was reading this one.  
First of all, I usually tend to connect with at least one of the main characters, maybe the secondary characters? The dog? But truly, I found all of them to be exceedingly annoying.  Each of them had secrets, which is something I expected in such a novel, but I don't think I ever got over my feeling of wanting to punch them at one time or another, and I am not a violent person by nature. If I had to choose one of them, I think I liked Callum the best as he seemed to have the best grip on what was happening despite his attitude and because I just couldn't figure him out AT ALL.  I didn't understand his power and I didn't really understand exactly how he fit into it all.  Maybe that's why I liked him so much; and the fact that I didn't want to slam the door in his face every time he appeared in a scene.  
And therein lies the problem in this book.  With a character-driven book, you should see some growth and development in your characters and come to learn more about what drives them as well as learn some of their secrets.  However, very little is revealed about them, their magical abilities including their secrets, which makes the overall reading experience for the reader somewhat frustrating.  Whether you like them or hate them, you should FEEL something for them, but I was truly indifferent to them.  Personally, I have always felt that it is poor writing when an author constantly teases a reader about a character throughout a book, but doesn't reward them for their reading efforts in any capacity. 
The plot itself was quite a slow burn, and when I say a slow burn, I mean "ribs roasting over a pit for hours" slow burn, without the added benefit of having BBQ ribs at the end.  I am never opposed to reading a character-driven story, but it is usually accompanied by some kind of action.  This one is just slow burnnnnnnnnnn. And when something exciting does happening for a brief minute, all it does it get your hopes up that the action is finally starting only to wind up with more slowwwwwww burn.  And it should have been fascinating with hidden libraries (who does not love the idea of a hidden library, you bibliophiles?), a secret Alexandrian library (just the word "Alexandrian" teems with excitement), magical abilities, and a horrifying realization of what 'elimination' actually means.  
The Atlas Six was somewhat of a disappointment for me as it seemed to have so much potential.This author is a solid writer though, and although I can see what she was attempting to do, I do feel like she was trying too hard to make the characters have these educated and sophisticated discussions all the time.  While they were vaguely interesting, having them do it repeatedly took away from the overall feel of the book and made it seem stiff as it sacrificed some of the action and overall storytelling potential.  And honestly, some of the dialogue was just...silly.  However, there were enough good things from this author that I am intrigued and want to see what she does in the sequel. I have a  ARC copy of the sequel in my hands so I am hopeful the next book will focus more on the story.  We shall see.