Unfortunately, this is not the first, nor will it be the last time the greater book community lets me down. I had heard countless extraordinary reviews of “The Atlas Six” by Olivie Blake. People were vehement about this book — positively raving about it.
I’m a steadfast fan of the fantasy and action genre. Coupled with the consistent outpouring of fantastic commentary, I was intrigued, to say the least. I thought there was no way this book was going to be disappointing. All the signs were pointing to it as a solid read.
I was sorely mistaken.
For background, the premise of “The Atlas Six” begins with six people — all magicians, or medians as the author calls them — potentially initiated into the Alexandrian Society. The secret and highly selective society founded upon the lost Alexandrian Library. They pride themselves on being keepers of what appears to be “lost knowledge.” As the reader, you enter the book knowing that only five medians are chosen as members.
This is quite possibly the most pretentious book I have ever read. At first glance, the writing seems sophisticated with quality writing. However, as the book progresses, it increasingly becomes bogged down in technicalities, taking paragraphs to explain an unnecessary tangent. The book tries hard to interweave social justice issues into the plot but falls extremely short. Moreover, the characters are portrayed as philosophical. However, in reality they are just achingly and painfully boring.
Instead of coming across as genuine concern or having some semblance of activism, the book feels to me as though it is looking down upon the trivial problems of the world. For example, the author frequently brings up privilege in socioeconomic status. Pages are spent explaining the problem of having inherent privilege without actually evoking any kind of concern or empathy. It doesn’t criticize privilege. In a convoluted way, it seems as though it weirdly endorses it to me.
If someone had asked me to come up with anything that barely resembled a plot for this book, I would be unable to do it. I understand a second book of a planned three will be released in October, but there is absolutely no universe in which I can imagine this second book answers every question created in the first book. There were simply too many.
However, if there is one question I can answer using this first book as support, it would be the reason for the abundant blanks in the story. It is because the author writes so much without actually saying anything of substance. There are countless sentences written that are purely nothing but a pretty amalgamation of words. This book acts as though everything written down is profusely intellectual when there is absolutely no meaning to the sentence.
Furthermore, not only are there questions left unanswered but there were plot lines crafted that were left completely untouched. What seems to be the main characters start with intriguing stories, but end in confusion due to the sheer lack of information. Instead of spending an excessive amount of words and time talking about issues that it has no profound insight into, it could stand to develop a cohesive plot.
Because of this embarrassing shortage of elaboration, this then translates to the plot twist at the end fully missing the mark.
If there was one thing this plot twist didn’t lack, it’s creativity. The idea in its basic form is good, but it’s not so predictable as it is purely unsatisfying. What is supposed to be the beating heart of the story isn’t even followed through. There is supposed to be a large moral dilemma on the premise that only five out of the six initiates will go through, and even that not so surprisingly is left unfinished.
The culmination of these mediocre attempts at being original finally adds to the whole book being a disappointment. Nothing about this book is fully developed, the characters aren’t even remotely likable, and at the core, it is boring.
I give this book two stars out of five.