A review by lady_moon
The Atlas Paradox, by Olivie Blake

dark emotional informative reflective tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


“Do you think they know what it really means to love?” [he] aloud to him. “That it isn’t the simple joy of fondness, I mean. In fact it’s violent, destructive. It means to cut the heart out of your chest and give it to someone else.”

Rep: sapphic MC with anxiety, Cuban achillean MC, Black British achillean MC, Afrikaaner achillean MC, sapphic Iranian MC, Japanese arospec asexual MC, achillean MC with sleeping disorder, Filipino sapphic character 

Y'all can't imagine how anxious I was the last 50 pages or so. There wasn't even big stakes at the moment, I was just worried what the fuck is going on with these people. Now, because this book has extremely beautiful prose, I'm gonna talk for every MC individually so I can have an excuse to add a quote about them.

“Everyone who casts a glance at you is witnessing the outcome of a tragedy,” [he] scoffed. “And yet not a single person will feel sad.”

Callum, possibly for the first time in his life, has a plan what to do or even for revenge? (that was unclear) and I just think the whole world should be extremely worried. Because I don't know about everyone else but during the first book all I could think was 'thank the fucking gods Callum cares so little what's happening because if he was even slightly more ambitious, the world would be in deep shit.'

Anyway, as always his chapters were the most interesting for me. He was on second place in TA6 but with TAP he absolutely sealed his place as my first absolutely favorite character of this trilogy. It's just that as I annotate, his chapters almost always have the most notes, are the most marked with thoughts and reactions. Plus, he is terribly underestimated by the others - he says it himself as a joke but it's so true. This guy could end the fucking world if he really decides to. He's not the most powerful of the six but definitely the most dangerous.
 I mean, if Callum says while obliviously drunk 'I may end the world' I would be two times more scared even if the other five joined forces and said the same.

“Murder first and then scholarly pursuits.”

It's extremely amusing to me that this quote exists, particularly in this book. And even more so that it's Tristan's thought, who actually failed in murder.

Now, about Tristian... in TA6 he was in the unsteady position as my favorite character. I loved - and still did in TAP - his existential crisises (I mean, relatable) and grumpy-ness. I'm not sure I can give distinctive reasons why exactly he was my favorite. Something about him was just very appealing to me - the hidden potential, his power's uniqueness and definitely his dynamic with Callum. It was also particularly funny how he is (was) in love with three people because of his daddy issues. 

In this book many of the things above are still present and I enjoyed them. I also loved the chapter, even tho it wasn't Tristan's POV, where he apologized to Callum for what he did. This is one of my favorite chapters of the whole book. I mean, we had low-key conformed Tristan x Callum, come on! And he got legit angry when Callum suggested he and Libby "would be happy together" - (spoiler for the last chapter from Tristan's POV)
Spoilerwhich makes it so funny to me in the end he's like "the women he loved will come back and he will be here". Sweety, what the hell are you talking about. Your man is plotting revenge with your pieces of shit father because you were one of the only people on earth he thought he could love and be loved back by and you fucked it up - just go there, kiss him and fix thing up, yeah? Please work on your daddy issues - the narrative itself told us you're "in love" with Libby because you have a imaginative, good, pure version of her in your head - you're not really in love with her, you're in love with a version of hers you have in your mind. Come on, give me a break now.

This was also part of the degradation of his character that I did not like. (I mean, plot wise, is he supposed to be like that? Yes, absolutely. Regardless, I didn't enjoy it.) This is one of the things that pushed me away from his character if I'm honest.

Oh, as I mentioned Callum's not the most powerful but the most dangerous? Tristan is the most powerful. Someone may disagree and say that is Libby (more on her later) but I do believe it's Tristan - even Nico himself said he could be more powerful of him and Libby, more than a physician. Tristan has SO much potential sometimes it's unbearable.

“There was no end to this world, no beginning, no salvation from on high, nor any need for it. Olympus was empty. The gods were already here.”

This list is going (or at least trying to) in the order of my most to least favorite characters. I debated if on third place should be Reina or Parisa. But in the end I think Reina outshined Parisa for me in TAP. I have a lot to say on Parisa but that's for later.

So, in the first book Reina wasn't outstanding to me. She had some interesting characteristics but her chapters were still overall not that interesting. If we had them rarer, they would have been amazing! But as it is now (in TA6) she felt underdeveloped compared to the other MCs.
 In TAP it was different. She was better flashed out, with more interesting narrative. She's in third place here because she as character has improvement from the previous book.

“The presumption that she was in pieces just because she had once been broken was a dangerous one. Easy to misinterpret, and to underestimate in turn.”

The reason Parisa is on forth place is because she was a little less enjoyable for me this book. That's not quite right tho - not her character specifically but her place in the story. In the first book she was excellent character but - I was bored and sick that she spend most of her time on Dalton. Again, plot-wise this was very good and she turned out to be very right to pursue him. (We get that even more in TAP) But this was just annoying for me and I waited it to end - but it didn't. 
Parisa and Callum's powers are the two sides of the same coin - Parisa could have been more favorite than Callum but (imo) their characters' strengths rely in their interactions with the others. Callum's main dynamic was with Tristan and I loved Tristan, so this gave Callum even more boost than he already had. Parisa's main dynamic was with Dalton and I didn't give a shit about him. He was boring for me. I can't explain it but in both books, I just didn't care. He objectively becomes more intriguing in TAP but I'm just *shrugs*.

As I said, Dalton's characters improves a bit, therfore Parisa's POV chapters improves kinda too (plus I feel like she interacted with the others more). But she went to forth place this time because as a character I still feel the same about her (and her, and Dalton's place in the story too), while Reina actually has improved in my eyes.

“If you do not know precisely where impossibility begins and ends, then of course it cannot constrain you.”

So, this above is Gideon's quote. I will talk about Nico and Gideon together because I don't have much to say about them individually. And Gideon is on fifth place, Nico on sixth.

All I have to say about Nico is that I blame him for triggering Reina's god complex. He woke up a soundly sleeping beast and he doesn't even know it. 

I enjoyed Gideon's perspective a lot. I wished he was more engaged in the plot because I feel like we're told too much about him without much showing or just see him through Nico's POV.

(spoilers for the last chapter - the one titled END?)
SpoilerIn the end they kiss and everyone are "Nico x Gideon nation, we won!" which, yes! I low key ship them too but not my main ship. However, when Nico sees Libby "Gideon felt Nico’s pulse stutter and quicken" and this worries me. And look, it can be nothing. We know Nico cares about Libby of course, he hasn't seen her in a year, ect. But I ship Libby x Nico only platonically (hates them romantically) and Gideon was the one to kiss Nico and Nico said "good" BUT I'M JUST ANXIOUS OKAY? I would prefer for them to die, then to get Libby x Nico as romantic ship. 

But props to Olivie Blake for not cracking under the pressure to give people Libby x Nico as straight up romance, because a LOT of people are shipping them. I'm very relieved actually... I was so afraid they will be a thing for real here. I hope Olivie Blake never makes them romantic because I'm starving for legit platonic soulmates in books.

“There we go, Rhodes, now you’re thinking. [...] Look at your own faults and don’t be stupid. You’re not special because you’re flawed, everyone has broken pieces. Everyone has something to hide.”

*sigh* Libby Rhodes. Elizabeth. What do I do with you?

I have never been found of Libby. She's on the bottom of this list for a reason. I like corruption arcs and hers was hinted even in TA6. But... I don't know. I just don't like Libby very much. Her corruption arc feels too much of a contrast with her nature. Maybe I'm just looking for excuses, I don't know. I just find myself annoyed with her and how she's written. Everyone is in love with her. Everyone is convinced she's the most important one [plot-wise]. That's very annoying. I think perhaps that's a problem of too much telling and not enough showing? I never saw Ezra in love with her - only his obsession with her. I never saw Tristan in love with her either - he only thinks he's in love with a Libby that doesn't exist. And even if she did exist, Tristan wouldn't be in love with her either - he could be in love with any person with the same characteristics of goodness and morals. I also never quite understood why she's so so so important. I mean, sorry, but she and Nico (should) have the equal importance to the plan (anyone's plan for world-dominance/change or whatever) but for some reason there's emphasis specifically on her.

Also, Belen... I'm never forgiving Libby for her. I want justice for Belen. 

“I betrayed myself, my beliefs, the books that were nothing, that weren’t ever anything, because knowledge is a fucking curse. Knowledge is nothing, I could have lived a whole life and never known the meaning of it or the reason for existence and I still might have had joy, or sweetness, or softness—”

Ezra... I can cry for him. He's not last because he's my least favorite but because I have no idea where to but him on the list.

In TA6 he was everything I wished Dalton to be (at least towards the end) - intriguing, with a tragic flavor and with so curious place plot-wise. In TAP his chapters could be kinda boring, I admit. But his character was so delicious. His last chapter in TAP was so heartbreaking. I actually teared up reading that. The only thing that tops it is Callum's first chapter.

I feel the need to defend my like of him tho - I'll never claim he's good person, he did some fucked up stuff. But who in this series hasn't? So that's that. I do like Ezra, he's very interesting character. He's very delusional for many things and I loved to read about this. Of course, almost everyone here are delusional at certain level, starting with Reina "the god complex" Mori and ending with Tristan "the woman he loves" Caine. But there's something else with Ezra specifically... he was coming from a good place, he tried so desperately to do what he thought best... I hurt for him. I can't explain it but his whole arc and story just moves me.

And because, again, this book has amazing prose, here's a quote to end this review. And one that is actually so heartbreakly true and parallel to Reina's:

“Ezra wanted, ideally, for Atlas’s death to happen via some kind of divine smiting, like a lightning bolt from above. He waited, but evidently no one was home. Olympus was empty and so was hell. The devils were all here, in this house.”


22/03/2022: I need this book, like, for yesterday. 

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