The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

The Atlas Six book cover

Information

Goodreads: The Atlas Six
Series: The Atlas #1
Age Category: Adult
Source: Purchased
Published: March 1, 2022 (Tor release)

Official Summary

The Alexandrian Society is a secret society of magical academicians, the best in the world. Their members are caretakers of lost knowledge from the greatest civilizations of antiquity. And those who earn a place among their number will secure a life of wealth, power, and prestige beyond their wildest dreams. Each decade, the world’s six most uniquely talented magicians are selected for initiation – and here are the chosen few…

– Libby Rhodes and Nicolás Ferrer de Varona: inseparable enemies, cosmologists who can control matter with their minds.
– Reina Mori: a naturalist who can speak the language of life itself.
– Parisa Kamali: a mind reader whose powers of seduction are unmatched.
– Tristan Caine: the son of a crime kingpin who can see the secrets of the universe.
– Callum Nova: an insanely rich pretty boy who could bring about the end of the world. He need only ask.

When the candidates are recruited by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they are told they must spend one year together to qualify for initiation. During this time, they will be permitted access to the Society’s archives and judged on their contributions to arcane areas of knowledge. Five, they are told, will be initiated. One will be eliminated. If they can prove themselves to be the best, they will survive. Most of them. 

Star Divider

Review

The Atlas Six started as a self-published novel that became so popular, largely thanks to platforms like BookTok and BookTwitter, that Tor acquired it in order to give it a traditional release. Game to see whether the book lives up to the hype, I ordered a copy of the shiny new and improved (well, I assume improved since Tor probably encouraged a revision!) version. My conclusion: The book is enjoyable, definitely a solid adult fantasy with a range of interesting characters, but I don’t fully get the Internet’s *obsession*. It’s also one of those books that reads better the less deeply you think about it.

Because the story features chapters from the POVs of six different characters, the top magical workers in the world with unparalleled powers that are not yet even fully explored, and all these characters have secrets and ambitions, the book definitely offers readers a wild ride. It’s easy to get sucked into the wild, sometimes disturbing minds of the characters and to try to figure out what games they’re playing and who is going to win.

The setting/premise is also pretty immersive; these six characters are selected for an exclusive, secretive academic opportunity where they can research anything (well, anything the magic library grants them access to) and push the boundaries of the world. And the Society that invited them to do so might not be exactly what it seems. It’s engrossing, and readers will be trying to unlock the mysteries just as the characters are.

However, I found that the book is best when one reads fast, when one just lets themselves get pulled along for the ride, exploring the magic and the characters and accepting things as they come. Read like this, the book is exciting and occasionally thought-provoking; the characters like to pontificate on scientific and magical subjects and frequently also the nature of humanity and how people work, so it can be fun to feel as if one is also a bit of an accomplished academic by reading all these apparently intellectual musings.

Once one starts thinking in detail about the book, however . . . things fall apart slightly. The magic system doesn’t feel completely developed; the characters’ abilities seem to be whatever is exciting and will further the plot. The plot being . . . well, that’s not clear either, at least until close to the end of the book. It’s easy to read a few hundred pages of the book before one realizes it’s not really clear where any of it is going, why the characters are doing anything that they’re doing. It’s interesting, but what exactly is the point and the structure of the whole thing? Most of the book is, actually, a character study.

So, I had fun reading this, and I can see why other people like it, as well. There’s enough of a big reveal/cliffhanger at the end to make me want to read more and believe there will be a more directed plot in the sequel. I just don’t think it stands up to other adult fantasy in terms of pacing/plot and world building. There are flaws, but they’re possible to overlook if you try and take the story just as it is.

Briana
3 Stars

27 thoughts on “The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

  1. Mint says:

    I don’t know if you know, but OlivieBlake was actually a fanfiction writer before they started self-publishing. They wrote Draco/Hermione fanfiction on Archive Of Our Own. Their stories are still up. I’d say that their stories were pretty well known, but not “juggernaut” or “fan favourite” works within the fandom.

    I think that might be where the issues with the magic system and plot come from. When they were writing Harry Potter fiction, the magic system was already there for them, they just had to work on plot and their characterizations in the fanfiction.

    The character study comment makes sense as well when considering that a lot of their past fanfiction was quite character-heavy. They inserted a lot of original characters into their fanfiction, more than is typical in Draco/Hermione fanfiction.

    Thanks for this review, I was very curious about the book!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Yes! When I was just going along for the ride, it was interesting. When I was trying to figure out how the world worked or how magical creatures fit in or what the Atlas Society was even doing, I noticed a lot of things weren’t explained!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sheri Dye says:

        So, basically, don’t go looking for mistakes or you’ll find them..
        That does happen in quite a few of the fantasy series, though, doesn’t it? Especially with the first book.
        Still.. if it’s anything like you’ve described, I think I’ll enjoy it!

        Like

  2. evelynreads1 says:

    Great review! I’ve been seeing so many mixed things about this one, so i’m very curious to what I will think when I pick it up!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I always seem alone in thinking books aren’t logical and that that should matter, but . . . yeah. This is interesting, but there’s so much that’s not explained. I thought it was fun, but it’s definitely not the best fantasy ever written, which I’ve seen people claim!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Kim @ Traveling in Books says:

        The logic really should matter to a book. An author doesn’t need to know every tiny detail abut their world, but everything should at least hang together without hand-wavy explanations. I’m willing to suspend disbelief, but things should make sense once you take a minute to think about them.

        Like

  3. kamifurr says:

    Nice review. I’m sorry this didn’t live up to they hype for you. I must be out of the loop because I haven’t heard of this one. I’m afraid I would overthink the plot and things. It sounds interesting though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I’ve mostly seen people tweeting about it and haven’t seen a lot of blogger reviews, but I will be interested to read them once they start showing up. I wonder if bloggers will be a bit more critical than the original TikTok fans.

      Like

  4. Siena says:

    Great review! This book is really popular, but I’ve started to see more mixed reviews of it now that it has been traditionally published. I’ll probably pass on it, given what I’ve read it doesn’t sound like my cup of tea!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. aquavenatus says:

    I want to read this book because I’m curious about it. That being said, the ratings are on a wide spectrum from readers who enjoyed the book to who DNF’d it. This book will be discussed by readers because everyone will have something to say about it.

    Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Maria @ The Character Study says:

    I really enjoyed the first half of the book, but the second part was kind of a let down. I found the characters compelling and being slowly introduced to them was lots of fun, but I thought the actual plot was a bit wobbly, especially towards the end. I do believe the premise was fantastic, but the execution, although not bad, could’ve been better. Perhaps if there hadn’t been as much hype I would’ve liked some aspects more. That being said, I still gave it 4 stars. Loved reading your thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Celeste L says:

    Great, honest review! I think I may have already mentioned that this is what I think I’ll be receiving in my Adult Fairyloot box (which was delayed due to a printing error). If so, I wonder if my review will be similar to yours. Until then…!
    -A Literary Escape

    Like

  8. dinipandareads says:

    Great review! While my interest has been piqued by all the hype surrounding this one, I haven’t really been caught up in it for some reason, so I was kind of on the fence about picking it up. So far, I’ve seen quite a few reviews mention the same thing you did about the strong focus on characters and less on world-building and plot—which is fine but great to know beforehand because I would’ve been expecting the book to be strong on all fronts. The artwork in the book is absolutely stunning though! Lol

    Like

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Before I read it, I only saw people raving about it, so I was a bit confused to start reading and have all these QUESTIONS about how the world actually works! I think it would have been helpful if I’d seen some mixed reviews, though I did ultimately enjoy the book.

      Like

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