Thank you to Tor for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Book: The Atlas Six
Author: Olivie Blake
Year Published: 2021
Summary (click for dropdown)
The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake is the runaway TikTok must-read fantasy novel of the year. If you loved Ninth House and A Deadly Education, you’ll love this. Originally a self-published sensation, this edition has been fully edited and revised.
Secrets. Betrayal. Seduction.
Welcome to the Alexandrian Society.
When the world’s best magicians are offered an extraordinary opportunity, saying yes is easy. Each could join the secretive Alexandrian Society, whose custodians guard lost knowledge from ancient civilizations. Their members enjoy a lifetime of power and prestige. Yet each decade, only six practitioners are invited – to fill five places.
Contenders Libby Rhodes and Nico de Varona are inseparable enemies, cosmologists who can control matter with their minds. Parisa Kamali is a telepath, who sees the mind’s deepest secrets. Reina Mori is a naturalist who can perceive and understand the flow of life itself. And Callum Nova is an empath, who can manipulate the desires of others. Finally there’s Tristan Caine, whose powers mystify even himself.
Following recruitment by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they travel to the Society’s London headquarters. Here, each must study and innovate within esoteric subject areas. And if they can prove themselves, over the course of a year, they’ll survive. Most of them.
- Plot: 1/5
- Characters: 1/5
- Writing: 1/5
- Overall: 1/5
I wish I could just write ‘a whole lot of pretentious nonsense’ and hit post but I know it’s unfair to say such things without any explanation so that’s what I’m here to do! It’s rare for me to dislike a book with such passion. This is an extremely popular book so clearly something it about it appeals to other people, but none of it appealed to me.
The Atlas Six is fantasy dark academia with the premise of the six most talented and promising medeians (which are just university educated magicians) in the world being invited to join the elite Alexandrian Society. The catch is, there are only five places. Being in this society unlocks all the doors to power. Apparently, it’s a society trying to be the ‘caretakers of knowledge’ and do good in the world but in the book all we see them do is hoard knowledge like a dragon hoards gold. They have all these rare and ancient texts, books on any subject that could cross your mind and they just sit on it being high and mighty. It felt like the book wanted to discuss the idea that it’s dangerous when a group of people control knowledge distribution because knowledge is power. But on the other hand, sometimes knowledge is dangerous in the wrong hands but what gives someone the right to decide who has access to what? I don’t think it did a particularly good job of exploring this idea though. There was another group opposing the Society which popped up a couple of times to say what they’re doing is wrong but beyond that the main characters barely questioned the way the Society works, they were too busy being obsessed about themselves and their powers.
The point of view shifted between the six main characters- I found them all obnoxious. The experience was pretty much just, “Oh no, it’s another Parisa chapter”. At the beginning I thought Reina was interesting, she had the ability to make plants grow, but I feel like she made barely any impact in the story compared to the others. I found Libby plain annoying, and Nico was alright, but I didn’t really care about him. They both could physically manipulate their surroundings. I will say I did like Libby and Nico’s dynamic because they were competing and supposedly hated each other but also knew each other better than anyone else and trusted each other the most. But like everything else in this book, it didn’t really go anywhere. Callum was just supremely obnoxious; he was able to manipulate people’s emotions and I feel like he was just too arrogant for his own good. Tristan probably left the biggest impression on me only because I liked his journey of understanding his powers. Parisa was such a nightmare and I feel like she was hogging a big chunk of the chapters. She was a telepath and extremely beautiful (as we kept being reminded) and she uses her powers to seduce people, sleep with them and take advantage of/ manipulate them. I’m not saying that’s wrong but with telepathy the sky’s the limit, there’s so much more she could be doing with it and isn’t. We just have to endure chapters and chapters of Parisa thinking she’s the coolest, smartest person in the whole world who’s oh so beautiful and it’s exhausting. The relationships between the characters also felt very shallow.
Reading this book feels like jumping between the minds of six self-absorbed, annoying, chosen one wannabes and it’s extremely frustrating. I can’t believe I managed to read the book until the end. It was trying so hard to have edgy, morally grey characters and ended up with a bunch on unlikeable, arrogant people drunk on their own power.
Most of this book was just sophisticated rambling, fancy words and pretty sounding writing and if you actually stop and think about the meaning of these words or what they’re adding to the wider development of the characters or story you’ll quickly realise that there is none. The characters also have a lot of long, pretentious conversations trying to sound all dramatic and philosophical but it’s really just nonsense and empty words.
This was a part I highlighted on my kindle when I was reading, it’s about Libby’s dead sister. I think it illustrates my point about the writing style pretty well. I remember when I was in high school I used to always use the word ‘juxtaposition’ when I wanted to sound extra fancy for no reason and I feel like that’s also what the author was doing. Bear in mind, the entire book is written like this and it gets frustrating very quickly.
“It was such an uncanny juxtaposition, so acutely timed: the familiar sliver of youthful ennui (ambivalence in a strapless dress) and the empty chair next to her parents.”
Here’s another example of what I mean (I just picked a random page of the book for this).
Callum rose to his feet with a nod. “What are we celebrating?”
“Our fragile mortality,” Tristan said. “The inevitability that we will descend into chaos and dust.”
It felt like the author decided if she used enough long words and complicated sentences, she would fool the reader into thinking it was a smart book with a deeper meaning for smart people to understand when the book had no plot.
Yes, the book really didn’t have a plot. Barely anything interesting actually happened, it was mainly the characters playing mind games with each other and being full of themselves. For some reason I was holding out for an amazing plot twist that would save the whole book and give everything that happened some meaning. Then the plot twist came and it was far from amazing- it was the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read. I don’t want to go into spoilers, but I felt extremely cheated as instead of giving the book meaning, the ending made the book even more meaningless than it already was.
In summary, I really didn’t enjoy The Atlas Six and I don’t understand why it has gotten so much hype (I’m starting not to trust books that have gained popularity from TikTok) and it’s really not something that I would recommend.