#WyrdandWonder Audiobook Review: The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 3 of 5 stars
Series: Book 1 of The Atlas
Publisher: Macmillan Audio (March 1, 2022)
Length: 15 hrs and 59 mins
Narrators: James Cronin, Siho Ellsmore, Munirih Grace, Andy Ingalls, Caitlin Kelly, Damian Lynch, David Monteith, Steve West
3 solid stars for this one, no more no less. But how could a book with such an amazing premise be so mediocre, you ask? Granted, there were certain things I absolutely loved about The Atlas Six, but more often than not I found myself wishing there was more—wishing that everything about this book was just more.
The story begins with six magically gifted young people, called medians, who are given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Alexandrian Society, a top-secret organization for magical practitioners and academics, is looking for five new members to fill their exclusive ranks. They are looking for the best of the best, and the competition will be fierce. But once you’re in, you would be set for life as a caretaker for the world’s most precious stores of knowledge and secrets. The prestige alone would be worth it, but with the position also comes immense power and wealth.
The first of our candidates is Libby Rhodes, an elementalist. She’s embroiled in a bitter rivalry with Nicolás Ferrer de Varona, who’s also skilled in elemental magic and is gunning for a spot with the Alexandrian Society. Next is Reina Mori, whose specialty is nature magic, which gives her a strong connection to the power of life itself. Then there’s Parisa Kamali, whose telepathic gifts are unrivaled. The fifth candidate is Tristan Caine, the son of a criminal overlord with the ability to through illusions to the truth of the world. And finally, there’s Callum Nova. He’s got loads of money, good looks, and extraordinary powers of the mind.
The six of them are brought together to study at the Society, knowing that at the end of the year, one of them will be eliminated. With that knowledge hanging over all their heads, the rest of the story follows our characters as they learn about each other and hone their magical skills.
Quite honestly? That’s pretty much the extent of it. At its core, The Atlas Six is a magic school story—which normally would be totally up my street. Unfortunately though, the plot squanders much of that potential. Try to imagine Harry Potter but without the charm or the fun, and meanwhile, don’t forget to crank the angst up to 11. Like I said, the book had its moments, but they tended to get lost in drama. A lot of drama, unrelenting drama! What I wanted was more about the Alexandrian Society, more about who our six main characters on a deeper level, but instead, what I got was a lot of smarmy posturing and the usual snark of people trying to act cooler and cleverer than they actually are. Which, as you can imagine, got super old super quick.
Don’t get me wrong, the writing is lovely and the author Olivie Blake clearly has a keen imagination and a talent with words. The world is gorgeously described and brought to life, the tension among the characters thick enough to cut even when they’re all being miserable and insufferable. The problem was I disliked most of them, which is probably no surprise. The build-up to the final reveal was also much too long, and the payoff not enough.
Ultimately the ending was expected, though I would be curious to see what the next book will bring. Despite the mixed feelings I have for The Atlas Six, there are seeds planted here that can grow to be more. I just hope the plot will be more eventful, and that Blake won’t string readers along as much. I’ll also probably stick with the audiobook. In many instances, the full cast was what kept me motivated to keep going even when the story stalled, especially since it included some of my favorite narrators like Caitlin Kelly and Steve West.