Code Name Atlas is a book that I desperately wanted to like. It had an interesting premise that probably could have been molded into a fantastic piece of post-apocalyptic science-fiction if it received proper editing and attention-to-detail. There are many elements to the story that, if wielded correctly, would have made for a thought-provoking and suspenseful tale. But the poor execution of fundamental writing prowess made it extremely difficult to absorb.
One of the very first things that I noticed going into Code Name Atlas were the many contradictions. The Prologue begins in one tense, but quickly switches into a different tense without warning or context. As the protagonist narrates, he then goes off into dialogue, but whether that dialogue is with the audience (us, the readers), or someone else entirely can be confusing, which immediately makes you feel like you’re missing a part of the plot. This is a terrible feeling to have, especially within the first few pages of a book.
Another rather frustrating aspect of this novel was its incessant, repetitive nature. One word will be utilized intermittently many times in the span of just a few sentences. This really takes away from the fluid reading experience, and after coming across so many repetitions, you begin to wonder if you’re just reading the same lines over and over again. Instead of moving you along towards plot progression, you get confusion and a disconnected feeling from the overall sense of the story. When you combine unvarying language usage with inconsistent grammatical structures and errors, it’s difficult to look past the cosmetic nuts and bolts to the fiction underneath it all.
The characters were also quite bothersome to me. Towards the very beginning of this novel, the protagonist undergoes a tremendously emotional and heartbreaking loss, however, the grief and sorrow that one would expect to come with such a heavy experience is completely non-existent. The event itself was brazenly brushed over to the point that it makes me wonder what part it played in the overall tale. Surely, if it was to be treated as such a minor element, wouldn’t it have been better to just exclude it entirely? That entire scenario completely took away any ability for the audience to actually relate to the character.
The cast are all very awkward individuals who communicated with one another in excruciatingly forced dialogue. None of their exchanges felt natural or flowing, whether they were being polite, hateful, violent, etc. Any sense of expression and attitude were utterly absent, as were varying characteristics to describe these cast members to the readers. There were general descriptions of their appearances, but not nearly enough detail to give the mind something to grasp on to. This gave way for a severe detachment from one person to another, making it horribly difficult to get that “team” vibe that I believe the author was going for.
The final straw that shattered any ounce of interest that I could have in this book was the bewildering evolution of it all. The scenes jumped around a lot, usually without any explanation or transition. I felt as if the story was trotting along and then BAM, it smacked into a concrete wall, falling apart. When it picked itself back up, we were in a different situation, occasionally in a different time or place altogether. After a while, boredom ensues and interest dwindles away to nothing.
Like I said earlier, I really wanted to like this book, especially since the author was kind enough to provide me with a free copy for reviewing. I still stand by my thoughts that if this book had proper editing and attention given to it, it most likely would have been a completely different sort of a read, one that was culpable to a decent, and possibly even indulgent, reading experience. My review for Code Name Atlas consists of two stars, one star for the genuine idea and one star for it finally being a non-zombie post-apocalyptic story. If the execution wasn’t so deficient, I probably would have given it four.