It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten so invested in an ongoing fantasy series. Olivie Blake’s The Atlas Six checked all of my boxes, and the much-anticipated sequel, The Atlas Paradox was no exception. Note: There are spoilers ahead for The Atlas Paradox. You can read my spoiler-free review of book one, The Atlas Six, here.
About the Book
The Atlas Paradox is the long-awaited sequel to Olivie Blake’s New York Times bestselling dark academic sensation The Atlas Six—guaranteed to have even more yearning, backstabbing, betrayal, and chaos.
Six magicians were presented with the opportunity of a lifetime.
Five are now members of the Society.
Two paths lay before them.
All must pick a side.
Alliances will be tested, hearts will be broken, and The Society of Alexandrians will be 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.
As their final year in residency looms, the remaining Society recruits are unmoored. Bargains they thought they understood are not so black and white. Alliance that once held steady begin to crumble, while unlikely–and perhaps even dangerous–kinships are forged in their place.
In The Atlas Pardox, the price of power demands that each character choose a side. What else will the Society initiates be forced to sacrifice for knowledge?
And where–or when–is Libby Rhodes? (via Barnes & Noble).
(Note: As was the case with book one, this book has multiple synopses that you can read. The B&N synopsis listed above is the one I read on the dust-jacked on the book, but Goodreads has another version that you can read here).
The Atlas Paradox was the sequel of my dreams. The second book in a trilogy often has quite the big shoes to fill–and I was honestly a bit hesitant that this follow-up was going to feel more like a bridge to the finale rather than a story all on its own. But once again, Olivie Blake has solidified herself as a writer with intention–and one who knows exactly what she wants this series to be.
In The Atlas Paradox, we’re following the remaining Society members during their second and final year of initiation. Instead of being taught by their superiors, the five members–Nico, Callum, Parisa, Tristan, and Reina–are tasked to complete an independent study that will be added to the coveted Archives.
What I enjoyed most about this second installment was how well balanced it felt. The book is filled with quiet, philosophical moments that are then complimented by action-filled scenes. The characters are contemplating big questions about life and their existence both within the Society, and where they will go once their initiation is over. But we also have more volatile and pulsating moments through the character of Libby as she navigates getting back to the present after being abducted and subsequently trapped in the year 1989 (!!). Whether it was a scene of combat with magical abilities, or merely a heated conversation between two characters, I was on the edge of my seat while reading. Blake managed to up the stakes even more in this novel, which made it just as compulsively readable as its predecessor.
I also liked how Blake explored the theme of power and omnipotence from two, conflicting angles, but didn’t paint either perspective in a more romanticized light. On the one hand, there’s Atlas and the Society, where he believes in the secrecy of knowledge involving how magical abilities can alter the world as we know it (literally). On the opposing end, Ezra and The Forum believe in a more democratic approach where information of all kinds should be accessible to everyone. It would be easiest for Blake to make Atlas the villain and Ezra the harborer of a changed-world, but she opts, instead, to explore the gray area and keep it front and center.
Though Ezra believes his actions are for the greater good, he’s still operating in a way very similar to Atlas–by means of manipulation to get exactly what he wants, and to craft the world as he sees fit. Blake examines questions of who can determine when the world the should change (and if it can change at all), and whether concepts such as time, destiny, and fate can be challenged. It’s all very grandiose, but it made for quite the addictive read–and it widened the scope of the series even more than I could have imagined.
Overall, The Atlas Paradox was phenomenal. The writing still took me a while to adjust to (it’d been quite a few months since I’d read book one), but once I did, it made for a fantastic reading experience. I have no idea what to expect from the final installment, but I cannot wait to see what Olivie Blake has in store.
The presumption that she was pieces just because she had once been broken was a dangerous one. Easy to misinterpret, and to underestimate in turn.–Olivie Blake, The Atlas Paradox
“The past always seems more ordered, Rhodes. It always seems clearer, more straightforward, easier to understand. We have a craving for it, that sense of simplicity, but only an idiot would ever chase the past, because our perception of it is false–it was never that the world was simple. Just that in retrospect it could be known, and therefore understood.”–Olivie Blake, The Atlas Paradox
I also vlogged my experience reading of The Atlas Paradox with reading updates and my thoughts immediately after finishing which you can watch here: