The Atlas Paradox (The Atlas, #2) by Olivie Blake
Published by Tor Books
Publication date: October 25, 2022
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy
Last year I reviewed The Atlas Six, a cerebral, innovative fantasy novel set in the present day where 6 people with unique magical skills go through a yearlong initiation to join the Alexandrian Society, a secret group of medeians (those with magical skills). Only 5 would be invited to join. The year is up and the group is back in The Atlas Paradox. Now, they have another year not just to prove their value to the Society, but to decide how they want to use their powers.
By the end of The Atlas Six one of the original group members seems to be dead, but are they? This is just one of the mysteries facing the remaining members. Others are, who runs the Society and what is its actual purpose? Each of these questions is answered, but in ways that bring more questions.
Author Olivie Blake ups the intrigue when three of the characters begin dancing around the concept of space-time, quantum mechanics, and the origin of life. They come to realize that combined they potentially possess the power to create life. At the same time, they don’t have the ability to leave the Society’s house. Are they the players in this game or are they being played?
It’s not possible to go into more detail about The Atlas Paradox without spoilers so I’ll skip ahead to the novel’s intangibles. One of my favorite elements is its scientific nature (genesis, string theory), but as perceived through magic. It makes something unintelligible fascinating to those of us with non-scientific minds. However, the paradox itself gets muddied, as does the endgame. Blake seems to get lost in her own imagination, allowing ancillary plots and extraneous personal dramas, to run away with the story.
What is clear and appreciated is how in the midst of this fantasy, The Atlas Paradox grapples with the real themes of global responsibility and individual accountability when it comes to the future. Magic is an accepted part of this world, having been around for decades. Why then haven’t any of Earth’s most pressing problems been resolved? Could it be that even if we had the means mankind isn’t motivated to save themselves? The Atlas Paradox may not have fully succeeded as a novel, but I give credit to Blake for asking these kinds of questions in a way that has me still thinking about them weeks later.
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