Title: The Atlas Paradox (The Atlas #2)
Author: Olivie Blake
Release date: October 21, 2022
Age-range/genre: Adult / Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Trigger warnings: violence, references to parental abuse, alcohol abuse.
Summary: [from goodreads]
Six magicians. Two rivalries. One researcher. And a man who can walk through dreams. All must pick a side: do they wish to preserve the world—or destroy it? In this electric sequel to the viral sensation, The Atlas Six, the society of Alexandrians is revealed for what it is: a secret society with raw, world-changing power, headed by a man whose plans to change life as we know it are already under way. But the cost of knowledge is steep, and as the price of power demands each character choose a side, which alliances will hold and which will see their enmity deepen?
This magical sequel to The Atlas Six is full of chaos, magic, and carnage. The series continues to astound me with its’ wonderful writing and characters, and was a novel I could not put down.
this review contains spoilers for The Atlas Six
Basic summary: following the events of The Atlas Six, five magicians are now the new initiates of the Alexandrian Society, while our sixth remains nowhere to be found. As the year progresses and our characters grow more in power, they find themselves burning bridges and making new alliances, discovering new abilities within the society while the Forum plans for their downfall outside of it. The novel is full of chaos and carnage, and soon enough our characters will have to make life-altering decisions for themselves.
I thought this was a wonderful sequel. The story picks up not too long after The Atlas Six, and the void that Libby left has made an impact. There are many running plot threads, with little mysteries within the Society and outside of it too, but they all converge nearing the end. The world feels so much bigger now we learn more about the Forum and the outside powers hoping to take down the Society, and because we can continue to watch our main characters develop. I thought the book was so fun and kept me on my toes, and one I cannot wait to reread in the future.
• writing & plot •
As always, the writing by Olivie Blake is always so thought-provoking and profound. The description of the magic itself is always so interesting – a mix of pseudo-science, philosophy, and fantasy – which makes reading about the characters harnessing their abilities so captivating. Due to different team ups from TA6, we get to see the powers manifest in different ways.
There were a lot of moving parts to the story, and these were easy to follow. As many characters were not aware of Atlas’s plans, this plot moved in the background and quite slowly. I appreciated it gave us time to see our characters continue to grow their powers, but I would have liked if the main plot was brought to the forefront a lot sooner.
One qualm I had with the writing was how the passage of time was described. It could be confusing understanding when some events took place in conjunction with others. When you have a cast of characters as big as this, it makes sense that they’ll all be doing their own thing, and sometimes it would take a moment to wrap my head around what happened when.
• character growth •
The Atlas series is character-focused, and seeing the the direction the characters go is so exciting and unexpected.
As my favourite character, I enjoyed Libby’s chapters the most, especially with how separate she is to the others. We see Libby come more into her own and acknowledge her power and strength she has. Though still with insecurities, and always thinking about the opinions of her peers, she begins to find more confidence in her own thoughts and abilities now she is in fight or flight mode.
Meanwhile, the five initiates are all growing but falling apart in their own way. It’s surprising that I see this the most with Callum, but also maybe not – finding out that your peers want you dead can really do a number on anyone, no matter how many walls you’ve put up. With him not being so antagonistic to everyone now, you can see more of his depth and insecurities.
Reina really blooms in this book as she discovers more of her powers, as does Tristan. I loved reading these two loners become more powerful, especially with how it seemed to unnerve other characters. However, while Tristan thrives and begins to relinquish his insecurities, Reina struggles with inner doubt. Once again, this development caught me off guard, and it made for some interesting interactions to read.
As always, I loved Nico. His chapters had less humour to them, as he would also think of how his twin flame was absent, but I enjoyed reading about the different alliances he made. His determination to help Libby and also Gideon made him so much more endearing to me. In regards to Parisa and the others…. I wish there had been more to Parisa. I enjoyed her chapters in TA6 but not as much here. Her interaction with Dalton were interesting, but this plot thread felt very separate to the other threads, so I was less invested.
• relationships •
The novel offered some new alliances, letting us see different interactions and different sides to our characters.
Callum and Reina having a little team up was completely surprising to me. I wouldn’t call them opposites because they both operated on similar feelings of loneliness – they were both out there for themselves, and there was no miscommunication between them about that. In comparison, Nico and Tristan was a team up I hoped for and got, but not exactly in the way I expected either. While I had anticipated Nico reaching out for Tristan’s help, I had not anticipated the reverse too. I mean, Tristan actually seeking help? That’s growth.
• spoiler thoughts •
Normally I do not discuss big spoilers in reviews, but there is so much I wanted to talk about. Please skip over the highlighted paragraphs to avoid spoilers!
So — lets talk ships. I feel like a lot of the readers had been hoping for LibbyNico (myself included) because of their academic rivals to allies/friends dynamic. Its true that they care for each other, as not one Nico chapter went by without her mention, and he was the most determined to save her. However, its undeniable the bond he has with Gideon and how much he cares for him — and vice versa! I’m glad we got to see more of Gideon in this novel. I enjoyed reading about his abilities; as a big fan of the raven cycle, I love reading about dream magic, and it felt so different here and I hope I can see more of it in the next novel.
The other ship I cared about was LibbyTristan….. though I don’t think they’re endgame — which is fine! It just seems to me that Tristan cares for Libby more than she does him, Nonetheless, I love how they’ve encouraged each other and the bond they have.
Libby grows exceptionally in the novel — to the point she values her own life first and foremost. She has to make an impossible choice that ultimately effects her moral compass. Reading this struggle was heartbreaking because all I wanted was for Libby to be safe and back home – but at what cost? TA6 talked about how you can’t have knowledge without sacrifice, which I think not only applies to the pursuit, but what you sacrifice when you gain knowledge. With the knowledge of how to return to her own time, Libby has to make a sacrifice that will effect the trajectory of so many lives. While this seems like an active choice, it’s also one that is already locked in place by time. So then that brings forward the question – was this predestined? Is destiny a choice?
Overall, I really truly loved this novel. It was a fantastic follow up, furthering the plot and character development, and opening up the world even more. The novel’s tagline is destiny is a choice, which is a running theme throughout the novel, as plot lines converge and characters make terrible decisions. I, for one, can’t wait to see the fate that awaits our characters, and how this story will wrap up.
Thanks for reading!
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