The Atlantis Plague – TwoMorePages Book Review

The Atlantis Plague – TwoMorePages Book Review

Allrighty, we’re back for round 2 of the Atlantis Trilogy, with A.G. Riddle. Oftentimes, you’ll see sequels fizzle out, but not in this case! We get to continue the adventures with our characters from book 1, this time seeing the effects of the plague that was unleashed in Book 1 and seeing the Immari and the major world nations duke it out in a world where well…99% of people are going to die because of the plague.

I once again enjoyed the fast pace of the action like in The Atlantis Gene, and this time we even got a mystery to solve! Trying to figure out who was the double agent in the midst of our protagonists was very enjoyable for me, and, in true Atlantis fashion, the reveal surprised me.

We got to see David Vale being a badass, which he only got to show flashes of in The Atlantis Gene, and we got to see Kate do things on her own without the help of Captain America nearby.

The ending felt a little rushed, but oh well. That happens when you write a story that goes at full speed 100% of the time.

It was nice that the book delved further into sci-fi though, focusing heavily on the science when talking about how the Plague worked and how the protagonists had to go about tyring to deal with it. The talk of 80% of our DNA not having any sort of recognizable purpose and the fact that we each have faint personal radiation signatures I thought was pretty cool. Yay for science!

Allright, that’s about all I can say without getting into spoilers, so off we go!

Whodunnit?

So while The Atlantis Gene had a cool story within a story, The Altlantis Plague has a mystery embedded within it. For ⅓ to ½ of the book, the protagonists and we are stuck knowing that someone in the group has betrayed us, but not knowing who. For my part, I was 90% sure it was Janus the entire time, and actually trusted Shaw. Doh.

My thinking was that if Shaw wanted Kate, he had her way back at the Immari facility in Spain; he didn’t have to go around killing Immari folks to help get her out. I suppose I didn’t take into account the fact that Sloane wanted some information from Kate first, and would need to allow her to get it first. So, I mostly ruld out Shaw.

But here was Janus, who somehow magically can swim way better than anyone else when they’re getting rescued from the drowning ship; who is a super smart geneticist who seems to actually be better at trying to find a cure for the plague than Kate herself. I was 100% sure he was the traitor.

So when the reveal came that well…the traitor was Shaw, but Janus isn’t necessarily a good guy either, I was very surprised. Chalk up another turn I didn’t see coming on A.G. Riddle’s wild ride. Haha.

David Vale and Cueta

Another cool thing in The Atlantis Plague is that we got to see David Vale in action, being a badass again. We kind of saw it in The Atlantis Gene, but we really get to see his cunning in this book. For instance, when he gets captured at Cueta, his ability to try and bluff his way out of his situation I thought was extremely entertaining. We geven ot see his thought process along the way.

His orchestration of the takeover of Cueta I thought was cool, and the way that it was revealed to the reader I thought was a nice touch. Instead of being inside David Vale’s head while he plans the assault, you get the view from the Commander’s point of view, and only see things as they unfold.

One thing I didn’t actually understand though was the tribesmen – were they the people that went backwards genetically, or people that went forwards, but didn’t organize the way the Immari did? The fact that they are able to reason with Vale and orchestrate an attack suggests the latter, but in the begining, they are described as the former.

The Immari

So we talked in the last review about how I wasn’t 100% convinced that the Immari were wrong. That belief didn’t really change here, as I personally think that if I was a plague survivor that was still high functioning, I would also be of the opinion that the plague was a good thing and that the strong would survive. I’d probably join the Immari, and as they seem like a stable force in the world, and don’t force me to live in Orchid concentration camps.

I mean, as the reader, I know that they’re not really on the up and up and that if I didn’t choose to join them voluntarily, I would end up dying on a plague barge, but I don’t think it would ever be in a position to know that really. I’d buy the line that the Immari are here to change the world hook line and sinker.

One very puzzling thing though is that the supposedly genetically superior survivors, people who should be smarter and stronger than people were before, are so very easy to kill. The guards around Kate are easily dispatched. David Vale and his old friend are able to easily trick or kill several Immari soldiers. They just seemed like anyone else to me. And yet they’re described as these amazing superhumans.

The Gene Therapy

Okay, I thought it was way cool how the plague wasn’t a virus or bacteria in a traditional illness sense – it was re-activating dormant DNA, and so normal medicinal procedures wouldn’t help. In fact, things like medical quarantine couldn’t even contain the plague since it wasn’t transmitted through normal illness means.

The tie in to the actual scientific fact that nobody knows what 80% of our DNA supposedly does I thought was extra poignant. Much like I enjoyed the linkages to the real world in The Atlantis Gene, I very much enjoyed this linkage back to the real world in The Atlantis Plague.

I’m going to gloss over how feasible it would be to change the DNA in a person (the proposed therapies that the protagonists used to address the plague), because well…if I didn’t, I wouldn’t enjoy the rest of the story, and I wanted to haha.

Dorian Sloane

Another thing I enjoyed in this book was how Dorian Sloan changed from almost being a cartoon villain to being a nuaced villain that I could relate to.

His struggle as he realizes that a lot of the menacing parts of his personality are derived from that of General Ares is very interesting. He tries to save his pilot; he tries to have feelings for his psuedo-gf; he tries to save his brother. But in the end, he ends up abandoning his struggle to do each and every one of those things, to embrace the softer side of him, arguably to embrace himself (instead of becoming more like Ares).

I’ve mentioned before that I’m still not convinced that the Immari are cartoon bad guys in all this. They’re just trying to do what they think is best to save the species, genetically vault us forward in intellect and physicalness so that way we can stand toe to toe with this indescribably powerful enemy that took out the Atlanteans. I wonder if A.G. Riddle is setting up Dorian Sloane to be a hero in book 3. It certainly looks like it.

Conclusions

The Atlantis Plague delivered along the same lines as The Alantis Gene: fast paced action, unpredictable story turns, relatable protagonists, tie ins to the real world, and one core gimmick that the book revolved around: in this case the mystery of who was the traitor

Just like the first book, I found myself delving back into the story as often as I could, even on vacation when I should have conceivably been doing something else. A.G. Riddle’s writing style has me hooked for sure.

Sure, he may not be George R R Martin, but I don’t like that much elaboration in a story anyway. Sometimes I just want cool (unpredictable) things to happen, in ways that make sense in retrospect.

The Atlantis World, here we come!

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The Atlantis Gene – TwoMorePages Book Review

The Atlantis Gene – TwoMorePages Book Review

Woooh, this book was an amazing adventure! It’s definitely my favorite fiction work not associated with The Expanse that I’ve read all year. And phew, it came just in time, since the last few fiction books that I’ve read were a little well…let’s just say under par.

The pacing of the book I think was my favorite part about it. Oftentimes, stories take awhile to build up before coming to a climax where everything happens. Not with this book! We’re thrown right into the action from the get go, and we learn about our characters as we go. This approach also lead to we, the readers, not knowing who the protagonists are initially, and I loved that. You don’t know who the main characters are vs the side characters; you don’t even know who necessarily is the good guy or bad guy; heck, you don’t know who lives or dies (and at least one person who I thought was a protagonist straight up DIES).

I’d go so far as to say this isn’t really a sci fi book, though it has sci fi elements. It is an action book, and we’re along for the ride.

But more than that, the other major things I loved about this book were its unpredictability, and the fact that it referenced real life historical events, explaining them pretty reasonably with sci-fi elements in the book. The Spanish Flu? The Dark Ages? The fact that almost every culture on earth has a story with a huge flood as part of it? Even 9/11? All weaved right into the story.

And the creme de la creme? The little story within a story that we get, as one of the protagonists reads a journal, and how the events within that journal come full circle back to the main storyline. It was perfectly executed, and I loved it.

Okay, let’s get spoiler-y. Do NOT read the rest until you’ve read this book

The story within a story

My favorite part of this book was Kate’s dad’s journal, how it helped to explain what was going on, and how the events in it ended up tying back to the main story. I was in the middle of a vacation in the national parks of the US when I got that section, and I found myself stopping on hikes to read “just one more chapter.”

It was a nice break from the nonstop action that David and Kate were experiencing up to that point. The journal was riveting, and helped to fill in the backstory of what exactly was going on, talking about the Immaru / Immari split and to help flesh out the motivations of the Immari, the main antagonists in the story.

The big reveal

Undoubtedly, the big reveal in this book is where you figure out that it’s Kate’s dad that wrote the above referenced journal, and that several of the characters in the journal are alive and kicking in the current timeline, though under different names.

Maybe I’m slow, but I definitely did NOT see that coming. As I tried to piece together that Name A from the journal = Name B from the present, it did get a little confusing, but I thought it was really well done. Everything ties in together really well, and the motivations behind why people are doing what become a lot clearer. Certain Immari higher ups are driven by the desire for power; others are driven by the Immari core mission, to help protect humanity, no matter the human cost; others are slightly conflicted and are just here because they are making the worst of a bad situation. It really fleshes things out well beyond “The Immari are bad just ‘cause”

The Immari

Speaking of the devil, I really liked the Immari as group of antagonists. I have to say, without knowing what kind of evil they’re trying to protect us against, at least a small part of me understands what they are trying to do, and thinks that…well…maybe they’re right. Sometimes you have to sacrifice people to save the everyone. “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” and all that.

The book tries to paint them as evil, self serving eugenics folks that just want to kill a bunch of people in a misguided attempt to save the human race, but what if they’re right? What if the only way to fight back is to genetically progress the human race forward? Yes, millions will die, but millions will ALSO be saved! In fact, if the Immari are right, that makes David and Kate the antagonists in this story, dooming the human race, and it’s because of them that 7 million people (everyone) die instead of just 3-5 million people.

It’s an interesting concept, and I hope that the story explores it further in the next books. It would be quite the interesting turnaround if in fact the Immari turn out to be correct after all.

All the tie ins to world events

But perhaps what really drew me into the story was the references to real life historical events. So little is known about the Spanish flu, other than that “a bunch of people died and we don’t really know why”. Literally millions died. The Atlantis Gene proposes that it was an accident, that the Bell did it, and I find that fascinating. This fiction book actually motivated me to go and do some research about the Spanish Flu, something which I barely knew about at all before.

Ditto with the references to the Dark Ages. Entire centuries passed, and we went *backwards* as a species in terms of our development. That’s astonishing when you think about the difference between 2016 and 1996, let alone 1906, just 100 years earlier. But during the Dark Ages? Nope. Backwards. And there’s no real way to study it in real life because well…there’s so very little to study.

I especially found the tie ins to human development interesting. I knew that there were neanderthals and that we out-survived them, but I didn’t realize there were also a subspecies of primates called hobbits in real life, and that the more science delves into our origins, the more human subspecies that we find. It’s fun to learn real facts in my fiction books!

Unpredictable

One of the other things that I enjoyed most about this book was the story’s unpredictability. I predicted very little of what was to come, which honestly is very hard to do as an author. So Kudos, A.G. Riddle. I did not expect The Bell to be a time dilation device in addition to a murder device. I did not expect Kate’s dad to be the author of the journal. I did not expect to learn that both Dorian Sloan and Kate were actually born around WWI, and were stuck in the stasis/healing chambers until recently. I did not expect that David Vale would be betrayed by the person he trusted most in Clocktower.

The punches kept coming, and, once you knew the full story and the character’s intentions, made tons of sense. Even the little things were done well, like Dorian having had sex with Kate in the past and then leaving her as a sort of middle finger to her dad.

Conclusions

I read this book knowing in the back of my mind that this was a trilogy, but honestly, this book could be a stand alone book very easily. The loose ends are mostly tied up, the primary antagonist and one of the primary protagonists are well…dead, so you could easily end the story here on that bittersweet ending.

I know some reviews will say this book moved a little too quickly, didn’t flesh things out very well, and played out more like a movie than a book, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I enjoyed the unpredictability, the pacing, the motivations behind the antagonists, and the science-based explanations for major events in history. I already bought the other two books in the series, and am starting soon. This is going to be great!