A young girl feeling left out and struggling every day with who she is. Strange events suddenly take place around her, and despite her attempts to stay away, she is drawn into a whirlwind of supernatural happenings. Oh, and there’s a handsome boy.
Sounds like the beginning of every single YA supernatural story in recent years, right? It is, but Gloria Craw has managed to throw a few twists on the by now classic story and the end result is actually quite entertaining.
Alison is what appears to be a normal teenage girl, who is carrying a secret which causes her to distance herself from everyone except her family. She’s different and constantly ponders and worries over what that might mean for the safety of her beloved adoptive family. Enter a handsome boy and his kind cousin into her school who clearly know something about her, a mysterious man stealing books from her after-school job, some latent powers, and the scene is set for an action-filled story of a girl realising who she really is.
I am different. I have always been different, but no one can know or my life will be in danger. So I hide in plain sight, wearing drab clothes and thick glasses and trying to be invisible. I’m so good at hiding, no one has ever noticed me.Until Ian…the mysterious and oh-so-cute boy I know I need to avoid.
Now I have been seen. And more terrifying still, I am wanted—by those who would protect me and those who would destroy everything and everyone I love. But if they’re all terrified about who I am, wait until they see what I can do…
Now, I’m not a die-hard YA fan. In fact, I generally have no preference about a main character’s age as long as the story entices me; I don’t mind young unreasonable characters who act like the know-it-all teenagers they are, as long as they seem real; and I don’t instantly object to insta-love when it comes to teens, because while I might take issue with it being actual we’ll-stay-together-until-the-end-of-time love, I do know that when teens fall, they usually fall quick and hard.
But I do have issues with run-of-the-mill type of YA supernatural stories that seem to be so prevalent since Twilight bursts its way onto the scene (and I actually think Twilight is not half bad on that measuring scale). Undeveloped story lines that seem to run along the same course as every other similar story: girl is nerdy/geeky/clumsy/awkward, new extremely hot boy falls madly in love with her anyway despite her attempts to stay away from him, boy is vampire/werewolf/angel-something, girl is in mortal danger because she is the Mary Sue power-house of the race/world/something, and after some struggle and oh-no-we-will-lose-each-other-forever, the happy couple defeat the evil, evil villain and live happily ever after (or at least until book 2, when there is a new evil villain).
Those kind of stories, I find frustrating and quite frankly a bit offensive.
So, where does that leave “Atlantis Rising”? The quote above from its Goodreads page is frankly not very promising in relation to my (admitted somwhat snarky) classic story line above. But rest assured, there are several redeeming qualities to the story, and it falls somewhere in the middle with big points for rather original ideas for the supernatural element, credible teenage attraction rather than insta-love, and likable characters. Unfortunately, also some minus points for not being able to completely shake the paint-by-numbers YA supernatural story structure, the very “we’re evil just because we are”-type villains, a bit of a Mary Sue main character and story that felt unnecessarily rushed.
First, the good: Despite the cover of the book seeming to indicate some kind of mermaid-type story, Craw has instead gone ahead and made her supernaturals Atlanteans, which is different and done with a decent believable story – I mean, who doesn’t love Atlantis, right? Unfortunately, the Atlantis back story was very brief and not nearly explored enough for my tastes, but the structure of the narrative leads me to believe there will shortly be another book following this one. It’s a shame though that more time is not spent on Alison exploring her cultural background rather than just accepting the tidbits given to her – for me, the Atlantis idea is the strongest quality of the book, and I wish we had seen more.
As for the romantic relationship, without giving too much away, I think Craw struck a good balance between the romantic interests of 2 young people being thrown together (including a realistic portrayal of the requisite waffling and indecisiveness that is the mark of a crushing teenage girl) without it taking over the focus of the story.
Then, the less good: The biggest issue with the story is the fact that I felt like Craw was asked to keep it within a certain amount of pages – meaning that not enough time was spent on exploring each new situation and character before the story had moved along to the next scene. Which left me with what unfortunately often felt a bit like cardboard characters specifically designed to play a given role rather than actual nuanced characters whose actions would have made more sense to me.
Especially the villains were very much without any genuinely felt purpose – rather we were told why they were evil and why they were acting as they were, and once our protagonists came face to face with the really bad guy, he just reiterated himself almost verbatim what we already knew about him and his evil schemes. And it made me sad because again in the final scenes, I felt that somewhere behind the rather thinly told story there was a deep and interesting layer – which unfortunately just never actually made it to the page.
All in all, I would recommend “Atlantis Rising” to anyone who enjoy supernatural YA stories and are looking for something new from vampires and werewolves. Who are looking for a story with focus on the action and progression of a story line rather than the deep developed emotions of a love story. But I unfortunately cannot recommend it if you are looking for something completely new and different despite the good elements, as the underdeveloped characters and rushed story did not live up to the potential of the story.
Thank you to Netgalley and Entangled Teen for providing me with a free review copy of this book.