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The Atlantis Gene: A Thriller (The Origin Mystery, Book 1) Paperback – April 5, 2013
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An ancient structure buried in ice
For months, the research vessel Icefall has followed a giant iceberg that recently calved from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. When the researchers spot a mysterious structure peeking out from the crumbling ice, they dock and disembark to investigate. What they find, they never could have imagined: a labyrinth older than humanity itself and an artifact from the 20th Century that was lost--but not forgotten. The discovery sets off a chain of events thousands of years in the making.
A scientific breakthrough that will change the world
Dr. Kate Warner has spent most of her adult life running from her past. She has also spent it searching for a cure for a medical condition she believes is an emerging global epidemic: autism. In a lab in Jakarta, Indonesia, she believes she has finally found that cure. But at the moment of her breakthrough, her world is once again shattered. Her lab is attacked, her staff assaulted, and two children in her care are abducted. The mysterious intruders leave Dr. Warner unconscious. When she awakens, she's a murder suspect in police custody. She soon learns that her research has greater implications than she ever dreamed and that her past is not what she's been told. Her work holds the key to humanity's future--for better or worse.
A race against time
With time running out, Kate decides to risk everything to unravel the mystery her research has uncovered: the Atlantis Gene. Her journey takes her around the globe and deep inside a far-reaching conspiracy. The revelations that unfold will rewrite the history of human origins--and if her adversaries capture her, the future of human evolution.
7 Questions for the Mysterious Mr. Riddle.
1: There's a lot going on in The Atlantis Gene. So what's this story really about?
2: Wait, that's it?!
Well, there is a bit more going on.
The science in the novel explores human evolution and the great unsolved mysteries in our past.
It's also about a group of characters struggling to figure out who they are. Each is trying to come to grips with tragedy in their past and learn what truly happened.
I think that's part of the fun of the novel: it explores these compelling mysteries in science and history through the eyes of characters who have their own personal mysteries to unravel--and the two worlds collide and work together.
3: Where do you even start to work on a novel like that--one with so many plot threads and background info?
The science. What got me started was the scientific mystery at the heart of The Atlantis Gene: 70,000 years ago, the human race almost went extinct. A supervolcano in present day Indonesia erupted and lowered global temperatures. This volcanic winter lasted for years and decimated species around the globe. We were one of them. Scientists have estimated that humanity was reduced to as few as 10,000 surviving members and perhaps as few as 1,000 mating pairs. It's amazing we survived, but what's even more mysterious is that we thrived in the years after. We went on to conquer the globe and change the world like no species ever has before. There are now over seven billion of us. All of our genetic relatives--Neanderthals, Denosivans, and many others--all went extinct during our march across the world. Many of them had walked the planet for hundreds of thousands of years before us. To me, that's the greatest mystery of all time: how a relatively young species, teetering on the brink of extinction, could bounce back and master the world like none ever has before. It's our story, and some day we'll know the truth. For now, novels like The Atlantis Gene present what I hope are exciting theories.
4: What's your research process like? Do you enjoy it?
I enjoy doing research a great deal, mostly because I write about topics and mysteries that excite me personally. Research is a lot of work, but if I'm really fascinated by what I'm learning, it doesn't feel like it. I wake up every morning wanting to know more. Each revelation leads to another question.
Genetics and human evolution have always fascinated me. I worked on autism research for years, so joining the two fields in the novel was intriguing to me. The history aspects, especially the Toba Catastrophe, really got me excited.
My research process is a bit of trial and error. I typically start with popular articles--they're a good gauge of what readers and a wide audience might enjoy learning more about. From there, I select topics to deep dive on and begin reading journal articles and non-fiction books. Inevitably, some topics don't fit with the plot; one of the hardest things to do is discard research I think is compelling but doesn't fit the story.
5: After research, what's next in your process?
Once I feel good about the science and history, I brainstorm plot ideas to explore those topics and characters that would be involved. It's the same principle: I come up with ideas that excite me, twists and story arcs I haven't seen before that I would love to read, and think about characters that would fascinate me--people I would want to know more about.
6: Do you outline your novels?
I do. The novels are very intricate and the outline gives me a lot of confidence when I begin writing. When I'm writing a first draft, I find it best to write every day; I like to keep the momentum, but I also think it helps maintain a consistent narrative voice.
At some point in all my novels, however, the outline gets rewritten. Characters surprise me. Scenes I had planned don't pan out the way I imagined. Some twists turn out better than expected, some fall short. It's always a process of reflecting and adjusting course as I go. Smaller issues get taken care of during editing, but I like to zoom out occasionally and make sure I feel like the story is on track.
7: The book has become a runaway hit. The trilogy has sold well over a million copies, a film series is in development, and dozens of foreign publishers have released the books in hardcover and paperback around the world. When you released the book, did you have any idea it would be so popular?
I had high hopes but never dreamed it would be so successful.
The Atlantis Gene is my first novel, and I'm still proud of it. It was a lot of work. I spent two and a half years writing it full-time, and it really became a labor of love. When it was done, I created the first cover myself and did the ebook and print formatting.
After working on something for so long and being involved in every detail, it's a little nerve-wracking to release it to the world, to put your work on display--and open to criticism.
Overall, the book's success and the feedback I've gotten from readers has been very inspiring. It's helped me grow as an author and given me a lot of motivation to keep pushing the envelope and taking chances. Success can be a double-edged sword: it can feel like you have nowhere to go but down. I try not to see it that way. For me, it makes me want to work harder, to ensure that every book is better than the last. I've been very fortunate that my work has found such a wonderful group of readers, and I'd like to thank everyone who took a chance on the book.
I was hooked from the opening chapter. The scope of The Atlantis Gene is both enormous and ambitious. It is also confident and assured. --For WinterNights
A compelling novel. A thriller certainly, but one that combines so many factual historical references that the reader is left wondering where facts end and fiction begins. With an unerring sense of drama, the tension ramps up in the final part' --Best Selling Crime Thrillers.
About the Author
A.G. Riddle spent ten years starting internet companies before retiring to pursue his true passion: writing fiction.
His debut novel, The Atlantis Gene, is the first book in The Origin Mystery, the trilogy that has sold over two million copies in the US, has been translated into 23 languages, and is in development to be a major motion picture.
His recently released fourth novel, Departure, follows the survivors of a flight that takes off in the present and crash-lands in a changed world. HarperCollins published Departure in hardcover in the fall of 2015, and 20th Century Fox is developing the novel for a feature film.
Riddle grew up in a small town in North Carolina (Boiling Springs) and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill. During his sophomore year of college, he started his first company with a childhood friend. He currently lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with his wife, who endures his various idiosyncrasies in return for being the first to read his new novels. They welcomed their first child, a daughter, on September 2, 2016.
No matter where he is, or what's going on, he tries his best to set aside time every day to answer emails and messages from readers. You can reach him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
** For a sneak peek at new novels, free stories, and more, join the email list at:
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Top customer reviews
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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.
We are introduced to the Immari, an ancient Illuminati-like society; Clocktower, a private intelligence agency (including agent David Vale); and geneticist Kate Warner who runs an autism research facility in Indonesia. The Immari believe that all of humanity is at risk from an ancient, advanced society of Atlanteans, currently absent but likely to someday return, and Immari is desperately trying to develop the tools to fight and destroy the Atlanteans before they come back. Immari is sponsoring Warner's autism research, and they kidnap two of the children in her study only to find out the kids are resistant to a strange Atlantean device unearthed from what is believed to actually be the fabled Atlantis. Of note is another Atlantean facility deep under the ice in Antarctica, for which the Immari have been searching for decades. Things come to a head, and the Immari leadership unleashes the Toba Protocol—an emergency measure intended to kill most of humanity. Their ultimate goal is to create an army capable of destroying the Atlanteans.
But in the end, this book let me down. There was no character development. I was probably 100 pages into the book before I could construct a visual idea of what Kate Warner looked like, though she was introduced early on. When the story shifts focus to Gibraltar, the author makes it almost impossible to visualize the all important landscape with is words. Instead of seeing the story in my mind, I had to rely on boring and predictable dialog. I give the author an A for effort, and total props for being self published. But after reading this book... I see why he had to go that route.
The novel is the author's first, and it should be regarded in this context I suppose - perhaps my sentiments are overly harsh. But I've recently stumbled onto a handful of really great 'firsts', and when compared with these I don't think The Atlantis Gene warrants its four-star average from 10k+ reviews.