About the Book

Title: The Lost Code (The Atlanteans #1)
Published: 2012
Series: The Atlanteans
Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Cover Story: Left Behind Syndrome
BFF Charm: Platinum Edition
Talky Talk: Fantasmic
Bonus Factors: Atlantis, World Building, Summer Camp
Relationship Status: Goin’ To The Chapel

Cover Story: Left Behind Syndrome

As an adult reading this book, I didn’t find the cover too embarrassing, because it has a vaguely sci-fi look to it (which is somehow more respectable in my mind?). However, I just don’t really like a photo of two young persons looking out at me from a book jacket, and there’s also the whole it-vaguely-resembles-the-Left-Behind-covers thing. Thankfully, this book is blissfully dogma-free. Fingers crossed that the PTB at Harper will take advantage of what I hope will be this book’s wildly popular success to do a cover re-vamp, where they hire an artist to paint a more Atlantean scene worthy of the pages within. I do have to give them props for using a model for Lilly who is at least vaguely the right ethnicity.

The Deal:

How to even begin to describe this book? I’m really having to rein myself in from just busting out the Kanye caps and rows of exclamation points, because I LOVE THIS BOOK SO GODDAM MUCH. Ahem. Just so you know.

Owen has just arrived at Camp Eden, a summer camp for the very wealthy — or the very lucky, in Owen’s case, since he’s there on a sort of scholarship — when he drowns for the first time. Coming from the desolation of his home in the Yellowstone Hub, everything about life under the EdenWest dome is new to him, especially swimming (hence some of his trouble). But then he starts experiencing some changes that make puberty look like a cakewalk, and Owen finds himself a part (sort of) of a group of kids at Camp Eden who are all special — and who are all trying to figure out what, exactly is happening to them. Are they part of some government experiment? Can they trust any of the adults at the camp? And are the reports coming in about the domes failing true? As he is faced with more and more questions, Owen discovers that the answers — and the hope for the entire human race — may lie in his own DNA…

BFF Charm: Platinum Edition

BFF platinum charm

I can’t really decide if I want to be Owen’s best friend or if I want to adopt him, but one thing is certain: I have not loved a male protagonist this much in a long time. There is something heartbreakingly sweet and untainted about Owen, yet he is far from a perfect — and plastic — hero. I felt his anger at Leech (the camp bully), and his insecurities around Lilly (the camp hottie) as if they were my own, and I loved his internal monologue — whether he was observing those around him, or referring to the inner-workings of his body as a bunch of technicians putting things on and offline.

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Owen is slightly younger than Lilly, at about 15, (I think) and his inexperience and awkwardness surrounding the feelings he has for an OLDER WOMAN is nothing short of adorable. Like this:

We filed down the path, and I ended up walking next to Xane. “So, dude,” he asks me, “what was it like?”…

“What?” I replied, “drowning?” I tried to remember. “It hurt, until I blacked out.”

“No, not that.” Xane turned and slapped me on the shoulder. “Getting mouth-to-mouth from Lilly. That’s what I’m talking aBOUT.” Xane always did that, making the second half of a word really loud.

“Oh.” This was a chance, I guessed, to earn some points. I could talk it up, and everyone in my cabin would think it was awesome. They were all trying to flirt with the oldest girls’ cabin, the Arctic Foxes, but nobody was getting anywhere, and here I was, having had actual lip contact, though not for the right reasons. But apparently it counted. Still, the thought of talking about that, of bragging about it or whatever, just made me want to be silent instead.

Despite the earnestness of the protag’s voice, the story is full of tongue-in-cheek nods that gave me a giggle, like how each cabin is named after an animal, and the above-mentioned cabin of oldest girls? The Arctic Foxes. Love it.

Emerson craftily handles the relationship progression as the story unfolds, taking it from Owen’s innocent internal fumblings to moments of downright SA-WOON.

Talky Talk: Fantasmic

This book hooked me from the very first page, and did not disappoint throughout. Since it’s the first book in a series, a lot had to be established in regards to introducing the reader not only to the characters and story, but also to the intricacies of the world the author created, and Kevin Emerson weaves his story together in a series of complex layers — folding in action, discovery, world-building, character development, and romance so that the suspense built from a slow burn throughout. He doesn’t over-explain things, instead doling out new words and terminology steadily, immersing the reader seamlessly into vivid prose. I honestly haven’t read a book whose world captured my attention this much since the first Harry Potter, and I’d personally like to see it become the NEXT BIG THING.

Bonus Factor: Atlantis

sculpture at bottom of ocean

Atlantis! When I was a kid, one of the make-believe games I used to play was that I was a lost child from Atlantis, on a quest to find the mystical place in which I just KNEW the island still existed. (Usually with the help of my friends, Mr. Spock and Alec Ramsey — I was obviously ahead of my time with the Ocean’s Eleven game.) Anyway, Atlantis lore is still one of my favorite things. Fun Fact: When talking with Lenore about this book, we discovered that we were both obsessed with a Christian book series based around Atlantis called The Pendragon Cycle, by Stephen R. Lawhead, when we were young. I ate that series up, but hadn’t since found an Atlantis story that captured me as much as that one. That is, until this book.

Bonus Factor: World Building

Screencap from Minority Report, with three people floating in water while their heads are plugged into a computer system

But wait, there’s more! The author doesn’t just rest on his laurels with the whole Atlantis thing. Oh no, he goes and imagines a (very believable) future where the earth has been ravaged by human consumption until we are forced to live under protective domes because the ozone is so devastated — and that’s if you’re privileged.

Bonus Factor: Summer Camp

cabins in the woods

The swimming! The canoeing! The cabins! The campfires! The team challenges! The mosquitoes! The injuries! The meeting your long-lost twin and switching places! I hope there’s a special summer camp portion of heaven, is all I’m sayin’.

Relationship Status: Goin’ To The Chapel

I know, I know, you’re already tired of hearing how much this book and I are in looove. But you guys! Seriously! You have to understand, I wasn’t initially attracted to it, but oh my gosh, the old saying is true, because once I got past this book’s cover, and started getting to know what it was like on the inside? *Sigh* It’s not just any old book that could have me pulling out my Sleepless In Seattle soundtrack (because, let’s face it, I SHOULD be embarrassed enough to keep that under wraps) and singing along with Celine Dion and Clive Griffin, but when I fall in love, it will be foreeeevvvveeeeerrrrr.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from Harper Collins. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!).The Lost Code is available now.

Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.