So, I finally succumbed to the “Tiktok sensation” that is The Atlas Six, ahead of the sequel coming out. And really, I have no idea how I feel about it. This book both was and wasn’t what I expected; it surprised me and slightly bored me in equal measure.
It starts off strong, as we meet six medians (basically magicians/witches – whatever you’d like to call them) receiving a mysterious invitation to a secret society. Magical dark academia at its finest. That invitation is issued by the Caretaker, Atlas and it offers them to the opportunity to access a secret library; archives of magical information and history which is held back from the rest of the world.
From there, the book gets quite slow for a while. It’s extremely character driven, and some readers seem to be incredibly passionate about all the relationships and tensions between the Six. I, personally, was not.
I think maybe I wasn’t the target audience for this being over 30 – it definitely has a younger vibe, despite being adult fiction. But, at the same time, I can’t deny that the writing is absolutely beautiful in places – eloquent and contemplative in a way I hadn’t expected.
And yet it doesn’t always feel like it belongs, stemming from this angsty group’s thoughts. They are all quite unlikeable, and they don’t really like each other, but there’s an off-kilter sexual tension between so many of them – all providing a backdrop to the team discovering the breadth of their powers. So, there’s a kind of coming-of-age vibe here – albeit in a very unique way.
After a character-focused middle, the plot comes back into play in the final parts. As a centuries old ritualistic murder mystery comes to light – mainly through telekentic communication – I was back on board with this story. It ends with some great twists that really had me questioning where things could go, and what the future would hold for the society.
But, at the same time, the slow burn parts of this story sent me into a small reading slump. Some of the language used doesn’t feel like it belongs to the story, for example “The familiar sliver of youthful ennui (ambivalence in a strapless dress)” – what is this? I’m not sure if I love or hate it, but it’s definitely not what I expected. There’s no doubt this author has created something unique and special here, but in some places it really misses the mark for me. I’m still deciding whether to continue with the series – I’d love to hear your thoughts!