[Editor's Note: Since posting this review, Mr. Riddle has kindly agreed to an interview about this book and his most recent. Read the interview with AG Riddle]
No doubt you’ve uttered the phrase, I’d rather be lucky than good. And, no doubt, you know the latter causes the former.
One day I noticed a debut thriller on Amazon that had garnered seven hundred reviews in just a few weeks. I work my butt off to get reviews* and have a lot less than seven hundred. After last year’s sock-puppet review scandal at Amazon, I found such a large number of reviews acquired so quickly intriguing.
Either some fraud had occurred or this was an exceptionally good book.
After scanning through several reviews, I determined that they appeared to be legitimate. While there were a few reviews which were the only review that reader had ever posted, the majority had read and reviewed several books over a long time.
Not sock-puppets then.
That left the alternative.
So I bought it and read it.
It was (with one significant exception that I’ll explain later) a first class thriller on par with James Rollins, Clive Cussler, and much better than writers like Dan Brown or Steve Berry.
When I inquired of the author, Mr. Riddle said his luck came from Amazon who, without contacting him or charging him money, promoted his book. That pushed his numbers through the roof and earned him many reviews and some well-deserved success.**
A.G. Riddle is an author to watch.
The story of The Atlantis Gene is one of those far-fetched science thrillers with time travel and aliens (I think) and other stretches of the imagination that I enjoy immensely. If you’re put off by plausible but improbable themes, just move along and don’t complain. But, if you’re like me (I refuse to believe in gravity) and you’re fascinated by a story that takes known science and stretches it like silly-putty into concepts that might really work and could have actually happened, then you’re going to love this book.
The story is complex in a good way, the writing is tight and easy to read, the concept is out there. If you read Steve Berry, Dan Brown, or James Rollins, then you will like the tremendous wealth of genetic and evolutionary science Mr. Riddle lays out in layman’s terms. The human family tree is at the core of this story and he does a masterful job of educating you with background like Toba Catastrophe Theory and its effects on human evolution.
The main characters are likable enough and the bad guys, while as confusing as all get out, are definitely evil. The surprises are muted but sensible when encountered and there are no gotchas (where the author pulls a plot twist out of thin air). Mr. Riddle’s imagination bears the mark of an author with a great career ahead of him, and he has the ability to write well enough to keep you fascinated, page after page.
There was one odd diversion in the story. It’s a beautifully written, but quite odd, journal from a WWI veteran that contains a mini-romance. It’s well done, but incongruous to the rest of the story in an annoying manner.*** Mr. Riddle could have reduced this passage by half or two-thirds without losing the emotional ties between the ancient journal and the modern characters. Nonetheless, I urge you to push through this section because the rest of the book is worth it.
That one minor flaw aside, the story moves quickly and will keep you intrigued to the very end.
Bottom line: Read this book and keep an eye on this author. I’m sure we will see a good deal more from him.
* If you’re just dying to write a review, you’d make me very happy if you reviewed one of mine. Just send me a note and I’ll send you any/all of my books for free! …Please?
** Amazon does great things sometimes. Who knew?
*** Specifically, it is a journal written in almost-third person; the emotional thoughts are first person but the scenery and settings are often third; in the end—not the journal of an individual writing the thoughts in his head.