Close your eyes and imagine a world where the magic of Harry Potter meets the cutthroat competition of The Hunger Games; now wrap it up in the exclusive secrecy of the Illuminati, set around a magical museum library with all the books you can dream of; now you have some idea what this fantastical/sci-fi book, The Atlas Six, is about.
Every couple of years, the Alexandrian Society (the most elite magical society in the world) recruits the top six of the world’s most extraordinary medeians (a fancy word for people who can do magic) in the world together for a year-long “fellowship.”
However, only five will make it in. They essentially disappear from the world and pop back out a couple of years later with highly powerful positions in the world.
This year’s initiates are as diverse as they get, from two physicists (medeians having control over physical elements such as wave and matter vibrations and such) to people with mind powers.
NYUMA (NYU of Magical Arts) co-valedictorians Libby Rhodes and Nico de Varona, are probably the two best physicists in the world, but they are glad to finally be rid of each other after four years of fighting to be recognised as the better ones.
Reina Mori is a Japanese woman in her twenties who has spent her whole life trying to turn her back on her magical speciality as a unique and powerful naturalist who could probably end global warming.
Callum Nova is a carefree, wealthy, South African heir, misclassified as an illusionist, who can influence large crowds to do exactly what he wants. He is powerful enough to become the next Jesus or Hitler, but he has neither the ambition nor the desire to exert himself.
Parisa Kamali, born in the Middle East and schooled in Paris, is also from a wealthy background, but she is mostly alone. With her ability to read and influence the thoughts of almost anyone in the world, and her devastating beauty, she could start wars or end them with just a thought.
Rounding up their number is Tristan Caine; with a mob lord for a father, and a seemingly useless talent for seeing through illusions, he resigns himself to marrying a rich heiress and taking on her family’s empire for his inheritance.
Each of them will meet Atlas Blakely, a posh British older man who will persuade them to join the society with pitches as peculiar as they are, so of course, they all join up.
Upon acceptance, the six of them are sequestered together in the house (nay, mansion) that houses the Library, and for the duration of their stay, be its primary guardians. To succeed, they must learn more about their unique talents individually and in groups to ensure that they stay after the first year. But, as with every secret society ever, everything and everyone is not as they seem; there are dark, troubling secrets waiting to be uncovered.
The author’s style of writing and world-building is not unnecessarily complex, making the book an easy read. The switch in POVs makes for an exciting change in pace and format throughout the book. Nico, Libby, and Reina’s POVs are baseline YA, while Callum, Parisa, and Tristan lend more jaded experiences.
This beautifully written book depicts love, loss, pain, trauma, depression, desperation, intrigue, anxiety, ambition, and hunger among others, in such a way that pulls you in, wraps you up, and keeps you guessing what comes next, the whole time!
If there was a faithful adaptation of this book into film (Netflix, I’m talking to you), it would just be a bunch of people thinking furiously (since half of the main characters do a lot of their magic in “realms”), lol, but I have to admit, they would be very intriguing thoughts.