Friday 11 March 2022


Book review: The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake [blog tour]

Imagine that the Library of Alexandria still existed; within its walls housing the original texts and scriptures that were thought to be lost forever. It would hold an endless amount of knowledge beyond our wildest imaginations, from the original musings from Roman philosophers through to the seemingly impossible, teetering on the edge of myths and magic. And now imagine that the library forms the heart of a secret society that binds together some of the most powerful and influential people in the world – and you're tapped to join. An invitation like that sounds pretty irresistible doesn't it? It certainly does to the six people who are chosen for this decade's initiation class into the society...

Atlas Blakely is the caretaker of the Library of Alexandria, and he is the one tasked to inform the group of young people that they've been selected to join. Nico, Libby, Reina, Parisa, Tristan, and Callum are six of the most powerful medeians, another term for magicians, in the world – even if they do not know their own full potential yet. Although they are all on different paths in life, it doesn't take much for Atlas to convince them to consider his offer. And while the six are suspicious of one another, and the society's intentions beyond that which they're told, the potential knowledge and power that will be at their fingertips makes acceptance a no-brainer. 

What they had not accounted for though when joining the class is that it wouldn't all be power, knowledge, and academics. A large part of their new lives involves forming alliances, navigating complex relationships, and other societies trying to lure them away – or worse. And then there is the ominous secret looming over the society, because things aren't quite as they seem. 

The premise for The Atlas Six sounded absolutely perfect to me. A book about the most impressive library in the world? And a group of young adults tapping into its knowledge to develop their magical skills? Sign me up immediately! There were certainly aspects on the story that gave us a glimpse of the library's potential; the riches hidden away in the archives. And the magic that was learned, developed, and practiced within the pages was highly imaginative and exciting, constantly going in completely different directions than I was expecting. The possibilities really seemed endless. 

But these snippets of the library and the world-building, and some of the very thrilling plot twists, particularly towards the end, couldn't detract from the fact that this book was a bit of a struggle at times. There was more focus on the characters' grating inner turmoil and clever writing with overly complex and philosophical musings, than there was on the plot, the library, and the crucial character development. 

I can very much see the allure of the Dark Academia setting, with its beautiful yet slightly flawed protagonists to keep them "real", and the potential for magic and romance lingering on the page that turned this book into a Tik Tok phenomenon. But in this instance readers have projected their own hopes, experiences, and desires into a world, rather than the other way around. The book's slow beginning and lacklustre character developments needs to be thoroughly edited down to pick up the pace and create the characters and world that the story deserves. 

There is potential in The Atlas Six – especially towards the end – but it requires a lot more work to come across less like a fan fiction, and more like a complex and fully engrossing novel. My interest for a sequel is piqued, but it'll need to lift the curtain a lot more on the library itself, and the inner workings of the society, instead of repeatedly talking about the one-dimensional aspects the characters are defined by, such as "annoying" or "beautiful". 

The Atlas Six by Peng Shepherd is published by Pan Macmillan and you can order your copy now from your favourite book shop.

Disclaimer: This book was gifted to me by the publisher, but this has not impacted this honest review.

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