As this is a trilogy, I’m going to handle this review a bit differently. I will give my overall thoughts on the complete work, but I also wanted to break down each book and rate them separately.
On the whole, I enjoyed this series immensely. There were so many times I scratched my head and thought, what in the actual hell is he thinking? Or, surely this is a mistake or plot hole because this just makes no sense at all. Each time, I was wrong. Riddle is a masterful mystery writer, leaving just the right number of breadcrumbs for the reader to follow. He answers every open question, and doesn’t miss a single detail.
Similar to All the Light We Cannot See, these are written in very short chapters that switch between the different storylines. For whatever reason, this style really works for me and I had a hard time putting it down. I pride myself on my ability to solve mysteries before they are revealed. In these books, I did figure out a few plot points, but mostly had my mind blown along the way. Riddle is incredibly creative, and this series was enormously fun to read.
Book One: The Atlantis Gene
From the jacket:
The battle to save humanity has begun.
Off the coast of Antarctica, a research vessel discovers a mysterious structure buried deep within an iceberg. Entombed for thousands of years, it can’t possibly be man-made.
But a secretive and ruthless cabal think they know what it is…and what it means. The Immari have spent millennia preparing for the return of humanity’s ancient enemy. Faced with an extinction-level threat, they believe mankind’s only chance of survival will mean sacrificing 99.9% of the planet’s population. It’s a price the Immari are prepared to pay.
Geneticist Kate Warner and intelligence agent David Vale may have a chance to avert the looming catastrophe, but only if they can decode the secrets of the Atlantis Gene and unlock the truth about humanity’s origin.
It took me a minute to get into this one. This is Riddle’s first book, and at times, that is very obvious. He suffers through some of the growing pains of a new writer, and his character development gets the worst of it. I just didn’t learn enough about them to be invested in their plights. I didn’t really care what was going on or what was going to happen to them. While I was intrigued by the concept of the story, and the details I had read so far, it wasn’t unputdownable.
At page 275, things started to pick up for me. I’m glad I stuck with it, because part of me genuinely considered putting it down and trying again later. I powered through because my wife read these before me, and she really enjoyed them. I wanted to be able to talk with her about them, but also, I wanted to understand what it was that she liked so much. It is at this point in the story that Kate is given a journal to read. Riddle really found his stride in Patrick, the voice who narrates the journal entries. It was fleshed out, with substantive characters, and I finally had the hook I had been hoping for. I genuinely wanted to know what was going to happen to Patrick and his wife Helena, and what the heck was at the end of the tunnel.
One storyline I did enjoy from the onset was that of David Vale. He is an intelligence agent for an undercover group of counterterrorism operatives known as Clocktower. There were a lot of great parts about codebreaking messages that I really geeked out about.
Final Thoughts: Is this the best author debut I’ve ever read? No. But it was extremely entertaining, and I felt like I learned a lot along the way. Once I got to the end of it, I was hooked enough to know I would plow through books 2 and 3. Despite the rocky start, I highly recommend it. I don’t think you’ll regret it if you give it a chance.
Favorite Characters: Josh, David, Patrick
We attack whatever is different, anything we don’t understand, anything that might change our world, our environment, reduce our chances of survival. Racism, class warfare, sexism, east versus west, north and south, capitalism and communism, democracy and dictatorships, Islam and Christianity, Israel and Palestine, they’re all different faces of the same war: the war for a homogeneous human race, an end to our differences.
The piano keys represent the genome. We each get different keys, and the keys don’t change throughout our life: we die with the same piano keys, or genome, we’re born with. What changes is the sheet music: the epigenetics. That sheet of music determines what tune is played—what genes are expressed—and those genes determine our traits—everything from IQ to hair color.
She craves genuine things, real people. We so often seek what we’re deprived of in childhood.
Book Two: The Atlantis Plague
From the jacket:
A pandemic unlike any before it is sweeping the globe. Nearly a billion people are already dead – and those the Plague doesn’t kill, it transforms at the genetic level.
As chaos engulfs the world, the Immari emerge. A clandestine cabal that has spent millennia preparing for this moment, the Immari want the Plague to run its course , envisioning a world populated by genetically superior survivors – survivors they can control for their own purposes…
With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, geneticist Kate Warner searches for a cure to the Plague. Her journey takes her across the new wastelands of Europe and northern Africa, but it’s her research into the past that takes her where she never expected to go…
This was my favorite book of the series. I loved all of the character development and how their stories started to interweave and impact each other. There’s a bit of romance which I’m a complete sucker for, but also the love between father and daughter. Learning more about Martin and Kate, and what happened in their past leading up to the Plague bumped Martin up to one of my favorite characters.
Out of the three books, this one has the most gruesome plot, which was difficult for me at times. There is a ton of science in it, which made it enjoyable despite the bleak backdrop. I love reading about genetics, epigenetics, and virology, and this book was a treasure trove of content for my nerdy side. Riddle’s writing improved dramatically in this second installment, and it was really enjoyable to experience his talent and style progressing.
Final Thoughts: Loved it. This one made a true Riddle fan out of me, and I added his other book to my TBR. I took a chance on him in the first book, and he repaid me for it in spades. This one left me chomping at the bit for book three and to finally learn what was going to happen to the human race.
Favorite Characters: Martin, Kate, David
Yes, it’s a lie, but the media repeated it, and a lie repeated becomes perception, and perception is reality. Perception is also very hard to change.
A mind that dwells in the past builds a prison it cannot escape. Control your mind, or it will control you, and you will never break through the walls it builds.
It’s amazing how clear your dreams are when you’re a kid and how complicated life gets after that. How a single ambition turns into a hundred desires and details—most of which are about what you want and who you want to be.
There are only two possibilities: either human life emerged because the laws of the universe support it by random chance, or the alternative: the universe was created to foster human life.
Humans are actually reservoir hosts for countless bacteria and viruses that haven’t even been classified yet. About twenty percent of the genetic information in the nose doesn’t match any known or cataloged organism. In the gut, forty to fifty percent of all the DNA is from bacteria and viruses that have never been classified. Even in the blood, up to two percent is a sort of “biological dark matter.” In many ways, this biological dark matter, this sea of unknown viruses and bacteria, is the ultimate frontier.
Book Three: The Atlantis World
From the jacket:
Mankind’s last hope.
Time has almost run out.
In the aftermath of a global plague, the human race is shattered and in no place to face the new catastrophe that is even now engulfing the planet.
But then, from deep space, a signal, a coded message. Someone – or something – is out there, searching.
Geneticist Kate Warner and intelligence agent David Vale will risk everything as they reach out beyond Earth in search of salvation, venturing into a galaxy where a war has raged for countless millennia, a war that will reveal an enemy beyond imagination and the true nature of the Atlantis Gene.
I read this in less than 24 hours. UNPUTDOWNABLE. Riddle wrote this one very differently than the others, and I think it was the perfect way to craft the conclusion. This was more sci-fi than any of the rest, and I was completely captivated.
The end was well done, but very hastily laid out. As I started nearing the final pages I truly did not know what he was going to do to wrap everything up. It all happened really fast, and was very reminiscent of the end of Ender’s Game for me. Despite having all of the loose ends tied up, it did feel a bit rushed. This was significantly shorter than the other two, and I wonder if it would have benefited from a couple more chapters.
Learning the backstory of the Atlanteans was one of my favorite aspects of this book. Dorian’s character broke my heart on more than one occasion and I wish things could have been different for him. He’s the Malfoy of this series and he made me feel all of the feels.
Final Thoughts: This one blew my mind in the best ways, and as an invested reader, I felt very good about the outcome. There is nothing worse than getting through a series only to absolutely hate the ending. I loved the Divergent Series until the last few pages of the last book. That ending ruined the whole series for me. Fortunately, this series does not share that fate. I highly recommend it.
Favorite Characters: Kate, David, Isis, Janus, Sonja
Seeing the world that, as a child, he had once thought so unimaginably vast, nearly limitless in size, reduced to a tiny ball, floating there, swallowed by the immensity of the universe, reminded Milo of how small he was, how minute a single life was.
Stop talking. You’re making everyone who can hear you dumber.
This was the dark side of the human reality: with no conflict, no challenge, the fire within winks out and without the flame, society stagnates, slipping into a slow decline.
The speed of light. It’s the universal constant. It never changes, no matter where you are.