Pros: Complex web of lies and deceit
Cons: Left me with so much confusion
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
A.G. Riddle’s The Atlantis Gene (The Origin Mystery, Book 1) revolves around a mystical artifact that kills people in a horrible manner unless they have a particular active gene sequence. The body of anyone killed by the ‘bell’ is contagious with an illness that could wipe out millions of people. Dr. Kate Warner seems to have accidentally found a key element of the mystery: she treated two autistic children with a new therapy, and that therapy made the children immune to the bell and its contagion. That makes Kate a very popular target of both the good guys and the bad guys. Soon she’s being chased and shot at–some people seem to want her for the key to her research; others just want to kill her. Kate goes on a journey with an intelligence analyst named David Vale as they try to figure out what’s really going on.
The topic of autism never really shows up again. It’s a complete red herring, which is disappointing. It’s just a flimsy excuse to give Karen something to fight for–and even then, it’s just her two missing children that she’s fighting for. The kids don’t even feel like real characters.
Clocktower is a globe-spanning company that works intelligence. Given how large they supposedly are, it seemed untenable that they could give every single one of their employees a new name and identity. It also seemed like that could backfire easily–all it takes is one person from an employee’s past to blow that new identity. It shouldn’t be a surprise that there are moles inside Clocktower; any organization that large is going to have internal enemies. The problem I had is that once those people are revealed and show their true personalities, it’s awfully difficult to imagine most of them successfully pretending to be on the side of the good guys. The subject of loyalties and Clocktower heads straight into unbelievable territory; unfortunately I’d have to get into some significant spoilers to examine that here. I will say that one attempted takeover by force shouldn’t have needed to happen that way at all given what we later learn.
Due to some oddities, Tibetan monks come into play. We have two types of monk: the stereotypical knowledgeable mystic, and the stereotypical childlike, young, mischievous monk who wants to make the Americans laugh.
One part of the Immari corporation’s plans requires piles of dead bodies to be shipped all over the world to many countries. I could not hang onto the willing suspension of disbelief here. Seriously? No one noticed or got in their way? Also, supposedly the bell contagion wipes out the strong, not the weak, so that puts serious doubt on several characters’ ‘master race’ plans.
Everyone at Clocktower is given a new identity, and during the course of the story we find out some people aren’t who we thought they were. The number of people known by multiple names made it much harder to keep the characters straight in my head.
This is totally nit-picky, but since it happened more than once: The word the author was looking for was not ‘revelry.’ It was ‘reverie.’ Very different meanings there. There is also a bunch of small holes that crop up toward the end of the book; obviously I don’t want to give too much away, so there isn’t much I can say about them. My last page of notes consisted almost entirely of questions that seemed to have no good answer.
There are some fascinating concepts in here, and there’s plenty of action, even if I believe some of it shouldn’t have been at all necessary. As much as I usually love plague/genetic tampering/etc. in my books, I have no interest in reading the follow-on to this one.