I will begin this review by saying that I probably shouldn’t have requested the ARC based on how little I enjoyed The Atlas Six, but I was intrigued by the ending and wanted to know more. This was a mistake. I’m breaking this review down into categories based on thoughts I had while reading this book.
0.48% “my arc is missing every third “th” this is infuriating”
My camera roll is full of screenshots of sentences that are fully unreadable because the letters are missing which killed the mood of some of the more serious discussions in the book. I wanted to put down the book the second that I noticed the mistake wasn’t a one-off, but I stuck with it and suffered through every page. However, this wasn’t even the biggest reason why the book was such a struggle to read.
12.0% “this feels like a philosophy lecture and not in a fun way”
One thing I loved about The Atlas Six is that the discussions of magic were understandable and I felt as if I was learning about the extent of powers alongside the characters. However, the discussions of magic in The Atlas Paradox have left the realm of being something that I can make sense of. I get that this book is dark academia and being academic is an element of the genre, but this book left me feeling like I was reading a dissertation on astrophysics with the lights turned off, and some parts of it read like the author was feeling the same way. It’s like she’s trying to confuse the reader to the point where they can’t call her out on her nonsense ramblings. Over half of this book is full of these musings on how magic works and I don’t think we ever came anywhere close to reaching a conclusion. We barely even see the powers being used and any usage that is there is very vague.
35.0% “hoping that ezra’s chapters don’t contain anything too important because i do not care about him enough to read them fully”
I was expecting to enjoy Ezra’s chapters as the final chapter of The Atlas Six is the only thing that pulled me into reading this book, but I simply did not. He feels like a caricature villain when I’m half sure that he’s meant to be some kind of hero. I have no idea what’s going on with his character anymore.
46.0% “unfortunately callum continues to be the most unlikeable yet most interesting character of this series”
I say ‘unfortunately’ because I loved Callum’s character in the first book but he felt blander in this one, yet still more exciting than the rest of the cast. All of the cast became very one-dimensional characters in this book and a majority of their thoughts and behaviour didn’t align with their characterisation in the first book. Even the ones that I did love at one point became archetypes – many of them being the same archetype – rather than fleshed-out people. The one character that I do still have some amount of fondness for is Gideon. He has slightly more importance in this book than in the first but still nowhere near enough page time or development of what his magic actually is for me to be satisfied. But at least I’m interested.
72.0% “this is a lot easier to read than atlas og but god it’s boring. months have allegedly passed in the timeline and Nothing has happened” and 81.0% “so it turns out an entire year has passed and it seems like everything interesting either happened off-page or in a memory”
These two notes were pretty much the same so they can go together. The timeline and what happened on the page is also an issue I had with The Atlas Six, feeling as if everything important happened in the background to developing character relationships that went nowhere. The five main characters are just existing, and one of them put it into words: they’ve got nothing to do for the year so they’re just idling as if Blake doesn’t know what she wants to talk about anymore. There is no sense of danger. There is no looming threat of having to murder each other. There are no stakes left. None of the five have any aspirations or goals and wants which makes for very dull reading. I think that the author tries to spice up the story by creating new character dynamics between people who didn’t interact much in the last book, but they didn’t interact for a reason: they have no common interests outside of the society and no chemistry. The relationships and new alliances mean nothing outside of the specific scene they were invented for.
93.0% “i feel like none of the events have had a lasting impact and we’re just at the same place we were at the end of the last book”
This book is the embodiment of the middle book blues to me. It feels like this series was originally meant to be a duology but then got turned into a trilogy which might explain why it comes across as filler content to me: it’s just a bridge to get to the third book. But that should never be an excuse for a bad book (in my opinion).
That is all I have to say about this book. Hopefully, I have the strength to stay away from the next book.