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The Atlantis Gene: A Thriller (The Origin Mystery, Book 1)
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430 of 448 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
"The Atlantis Gene" is the debut novel by A.G. Riddle. It's a Science Fiction thriller that combines elements of the lost city of Atlantis, human evolution, Nazis, conspiracy, alien technology, and end of the world scenarios.
The very basic premise (without spoiling anything) is that the human race was on the brink of extinction at one point in the past and somehow, for some unexplained reason, humans made a giant leap forward in the evolutionary ladder that allowed them to not only survive, but to take control of planet Earth. Dr. Kate Warner is a researcher and an expert on human evolution. She is living in Jakarta Indonesia studying and seeking a cure for autism. One day while working on a new treatment with a pair of her autistic children, hooded soldiers move in, ransack the facility, and steal the children. Shortly thereafter, agent David Vale shows up on the scene and he and Kate are sucked into a worldwide race against time to save not only themselves and the children, but quite possibly the whole world.
This book was recommended to me by a friend. He raved about it. Told me it was a "must read". After getting through the first half of the book, I found the story to be solid, but nothing necessarily different or special. As a matter of fact, I was a bit disappointed at how similar certain aspects of the plot were to Jeremy Robinson's "Second World" and James Rollins' "Black Order". And when I say similar, I really mean exactly the same. I even called my friend to tell him that I thought the book was average in every way and was a copy of these other books. I pressed on however and fortunately at about the halfway point, Riddle starts to separate his book from the others. The plot thickens, the characters start to develop, and the plot starts to turn.
The last 25% of this book is pretty fantastic. There are twists that I never saw coming, and characters that I thought were token players that emerge near the end to change everything. After spending much of the first half of the book at a jog, Riddle flips the switch towards the end and the pacing becomes very quick, and the action and story become intense. The book ends with a refreshingly satisfying cliffhanger - just the right balance of closure versus setup for the next book.

Riddle's first novel is not perfect. The first half of the book should have been cut down some. There are places where the story drags just a little bit. I'm certain that those are minor issues that Riddle will get worked out as he continues to write. All in all, he has given himself a very solid foundation to build from, and I feel certain that his popularity will only grow after this first very solid effort.
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479 of 521 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This book was written for me, I swear. I just finished it after 3 days of neglecting everything else in my life, and thought, "Finally, the powers that be created a story teller who is capable of writing 500+ pages in which every single word is completely to my tastes."
The history and the theories behind evolution, religion, autism, Atlantis...well I'm a complete sucker for all of that and Riddle played them perfectly. He wove together several different theories and myths that many people wouldn't associate but it's incredibly believable and makes you want to put your thinking cap on and theorize right along with him.
The science portions of the book were incredibly understandable and seemingly accurate. Whether you're a geek or have never watched or read anything "sciency" you'll understand it and it will fascinate you.
The writing style is so swift and yet easy going at the same time. The book moves you right along, yet everything is well explained. There are some funny one-liners in it...just the right amount so that they do read as funny instead of cheesy. The action scenes are actually imagineable, like a little movie in my head (and I swear this book will be a huge movie someday) unlike so many other action books. And there is just the teeny tiniest dash of romance thrown in there so your heart smiles for a mere second but you are not in danger of gagging.
So the book was excellent, I absolutely can't wait for the next one, and I will 100% recommend it to everyone!!
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238 of 265 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2013
Format: Paperback
I'll be honest, the only thing keeping me going with this book was the desire to write an authoritative review of it; to warn others to steer clear. Then, after I was finished, I read the author's note. This is a debut book by an indie author, a guy following his passion, who acknowledges that this is not a perfect book and seeks feedback. And that's part of the reason I picked it up in the first place, I liked the idea of someone with an (overly) ambitious story, bringing it to life and the community (overly) supporting it. So I'm not going to snark out and eviscerate this book as I was planning, but as the author requests, here are my thoughts:

1. Develop the characters and their motivations. This book is filled with throw away one paragraph backstories that are supposed to completely define the character. It's no exaggeration to say that one of the main character's motivation in the plot was derived from a death in 9/11, that might have had 3 paragraphs written to it in the entire book. There's a huge section of the book devoted to a diary substory, where the diary character is actually developed, you care about what's going on. I found myself disappointed when the focus would shift back to the main plot. Put the same effort into the main characters.

2. Pass on some ideas. This book is overly ambitious, it tries to account for every conspiracy theory and wrap it up into a single story. The idea sounds fun on paper, but good grief is it a mess in reality. The Nazi religious artifact missions, human evolutionary theories, Atlantis, 9/11, the cause of historic plagues, ancient shadow groups in an endless battle- it's so much, and so much is not necessary. The 9/11 reference is not explained at all, to the point where it's borderline offensive. There's a point towards the end of the book where a character casually mentions that he accidentally crashed a weather satellite into New Mexico in the 40s. For some reason, they thought we needed a Roswell UFO reference in there too, that served absolutely nothing; it's indicative of a lack of restraint throughout the book.

3. Choose a point of view. There's a scene in this book where two characters are walking down a hallway, and you're constantly jumping between the thoughts of each of them. Who's thinking what? It's confusing, and it also takes away all suspense if you know what all characters are thinking, all of the time. This happens throughout the book, with inner monologues and with plot revelations. You'll meet a character for the first time, and then they'll turn out to be someone else in 5 pages. It's not a twist if you don't string us along for a least a little while; it's kind of like a little kid who can't keep a secret and just blurts it out, it's better to keep it to yourself for a while.

4. Never put immortality on the table. How can I care about life or death situations, when you've introduced immortality to the story? All suspense died the moment we find out that technology exists to heal any injury, and to life for a practically infinite period of time. This is an extension of a greater issue in the book, the inability of the author to let go of characters. I would estimate that half of the characters in the book die or were thought to be dead, only to find out that they now aren't. The death of a character can be powerful emotionally and make me care about what's going on, but if you're constantly jerking me around with 'fake deaths', I'll just assume that nobody ever dies, and be largely correct.

5. Keep writing. This is a labor of love, without a doubt, someone cared about this story when they put it to paper. That was part of the problem, the author was unable to let some of their ideas and characters go. There's technical skill here, the action sequences are largely engaging(if not ridiculous, in one scene the main character shoots down a drone with a sniper rifle before leaping into a hot air balloon, wow). I feel like the environments are well described, and the world that is set up for the sequel (was published this fall), seems intriguing. Unfortunately, my time with the Atlantis Gene series is over with, I won't be reading the sequel. But people love this book on Amazon, and the author has sparks of promise. Keep growing, be discerning, and tell them your story.
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654 of 765 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
OK, first I'm glad there is a forum for new authors, and every author has to write his/her first book. But please, at least have an editor look at it. Not to pick nits, but the spelling and grammar errors were irritating: one peeks at something, one doesn't peak; a chicken lays an egg, a person does not lay about. The anachronisms were irritating: there were no plastic sheets to cover things in 1917. "Branding" in those days meant burning a symbol on a cow. The concept of branding as creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers' mind is a 21st Century concept. And I think, but I'm not sure, that when a character is resurrected from 1917 and he doesn't know what a computer is, he probably would also not know what medical nanobots are.

Now, for more substantive issues. The hero was as dumb as a sack of rocks. I was hoping he at least had a plan when he and the heroine managed to infiltrate (actually, blunder into because the security guards were even dumber than a sack of rocks) the stronghold of the bad guys in China. I was hoping the plan would have some elegance and a bit of cleverness. But as near as I could figure, it consisted of him telling her, "You go find the kids. I'll set off a few diversionary explosions and look for a train to get us out of here." He then forgot all about the possibility of security cameras, so as fast as he planted explosives, the bad guys picked them up, and very quickly cornered him and shot him up. After a totally improbable escape, involving plague-ridden bodies on trains and monks knowing exactly which box car our gravely wounded hero and our heroine happen to be on, and . . . oh, never mind. Eventually, hero and heroine float away amidst a cloud of several hundred diversionary hot air balloons launched simultaneously by monks in several hundred monasteries and by unspecified wind currents and other means, make it across the Himalayas into India. Then things get really weird. I'm afraid I got totally lost in flashbacks, journals, name changes, and dramatic revelations. There were a few unintentional laughs. At one point, interjected as a throw-a-way line, there was a reference to an apparently alien weather satellite being brought down in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. I could just see the author checking off one more item from his list of Ufology incidents that needed to be explained in the book.

I seem to be in the minority in my assessment of this novel, however. So perhaps I didn't read it with the proper attitude.
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72 of 81 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I am amazed at all the 5 star reviews this book received. The book got off to a good start and the author did conceive of an interesting premise but after a few chapters it quickly became tedious and disjointed. It didn't hold my attention and I found my mind drifting as I struggled to finish the book. As a result, I had a hard time following the plot as it skipped around geographically and historically. The characters had little depth and I could not empathize with any of them. To further add to the tedium and confusion, the main characters all had multiple sets of names.

I forced myself to finish the book hoping that my perseverance would pay off with a great ending but instead the ending was largely unsatisfying and disappointing. The author chose to resolve little and left most of the plots "open" in order to write a sequel. A sequel which I have absolutely no interest in reading.

I feel this book would have greatly benefited from professional editing. Perhaps some solid editorial advice could have helped the author change some of the convoluted, rambling plot lines and make the book more concise and interesting. This book had the potential to be very good unfortunately it never came close to reaching that potential.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I can count on one hand the number of books I willfully put down before finishing, and this is one of them. I honestly tried (and even got through 73%, according to my Kindle), but it just got more painful. The plot is painfully contrived to the point where it seems the author just tosses in mystery and science fiction cliches and hopes they stick (Atlantis and aliens and evil corporations and Nazis and the list goes on), without any effort to weave them into the story. I read a lot of science fiction so the plot certainly sounds appealing, but this book fails to give any type of cohesiveness to the myriad of different plot elements.

The writing is painful. Explanations of legitimate scientific concepts are muddled together (I found parts of the Wikipedia article on Spanish flu dropped directly into the characters' dialogue), and the author goes way overboard with cliches (count the number of times you see the phrase 'brain wiring'). The story is seemingly just a series of cheap action scenes wired together with some token dialogue, sort of the literary equivalent of a Michael Bay movie. This isn't a criticism of popular fiction - I enjoy the John Grishams and Tom Clancys of the world as much as the next guy - but I couldn't get through this book.
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149 of 179 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I was drawn to the book because of the subject matter (evolution, genetics, etc.), and I was surprised at how well-written it is. There's also a strong spy storyline, which was interesting. Overall, the story moves along quickly and the chapters are short, shifting to different characters and scenes, which kept me engaged. Truly a great techno thriller.
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46 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I had quite high expectations after reading the enthusiastic reviews here. However, I must admit that my experience was entirely different. The plot doesn't look reliable at all.even under extreme situations you expect reasonable scenarios. I can't connect to a story where the the main character succeed beating alone much larger forces without using any creative tactics. Rather, it looks like the plot is based on series of unreasonable miracles. The dialogues are quite shallow and somehow the scientific background seems like it was enforced to the story. Overall, not the stories that fully engage you until the very last page. After reading about 40% of the book I decided to quit, seeing that it is more of the same. I though of quitting earlier but kept reading assuming - based on the very positive reviews i have read here - that the plot development and substance will improve, which unfortunately didn't. Must say that I'm quite confused to see that so many readers liked this book so much while for me it was nothing special, and actually - even a boring one.
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41 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
The plot has potential. However, the execution leaves a lot to be desired - the premise makes no logical sense, pretty much all the action and Bad Guy Motivation in the movie makes no real sense, the characters are 2-dimensional cartoons and the writing is extremely disjointed. People just run around for no reason, people are working together and also trying to destroy each other for no reason, people are attacking other people for no logical reason. There is a whole lot happening, and most of it makes absolutely NO sense whatsoever. This is the book Dan Brown might have written when he was 14 years old.

Oh, and any book which uses the word "ex-Patriot" to refer to a someone working in a foreign country simply should NOT be published.

I have no idea how this book gets so many 5 stars. I can only imagine most of them are the author's friends or he has hired some PR firm to boost up his reviews - if anything, this demonstrates to me how badly broken the Amazon review system is.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2013
Format: Paperback
This book reads like a Steven Seagal movie. If you like that type of entertainment, you should like this book.

I really wanted to love this book. The beginning was intriguing. Then the story jumped to "present time." I went back to see when the first chapter was supposed to have taken place, but no reference. It's revealed later in the book, but I started off annoyed.

The beginning chapters are fast paced. The story jumps around the world and does a good job of holding interest. Then the dialogue starts. It is boring, and it quickly becomes repetitive and monotonous. Just when you think you're ready to ditch the book, there are explosions, chases, and glimpses of naked women. Characters conveniently appear, but when they have served their purpose, or just as you start to like them, they are killed. It takes awhile to figure out who the hero of the story is supposed to be, but then you wonder, maybe it's the woman - or the other guy, what was his name again?

Did I mention the dialogue is monotonous? The author has apparently done quite a bit of research on his subject and wants to make sure he gets it through your head, accurate or not. Several characters give the same speech - and yes it does read like a speech. OK, so one character may say "12,000-16,000 years ago." I can live with the encyclopedia recap once. But how many people talk like that? And how many times must we read it? Can't the next one simply say "over 12,000 years ago"? And really, how many bad guys give a technical lecture before killing somebody? This also goes for the continued reiteration of the various human subspecies. Yawn. We get it.

The twists come just at the right time to pull the reader back in. But they don't hold interest long. I found the "Ah-ha!" moments I was craving to be more on the "oh-brother" end of the scale. Yet there was enough to keep me reading. . hoping for more.

The idea of the story is good. The execution is predictable and far fetched. I found myself getting mad often - over use of metaphors, shallow characters, missing details and preachy speeches. Some points overstated, other references murky enough to force me to reread a previous chapter - which was annoying since I didn't enjoy it the first time. The willing suspension of disbelief the reader needs to travel on this journey never happened for me.

The anticlimactic ending suits the book. Sure, it sets up for the next book, but I don't care enough about any of the characters to want to waste any more time with them.

I often wondered how so many blatant mistakes could get past an editor. You aren't supposed to think about things like that as you're reading a book. I didn't know until the end this was a self published first novel. That explains it all. Note to author: If you're going to self publish you should hire an editor - not a friend or family member - to honestly review your work. This book is a decent first draft.
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