“The Atlantis Gene,” the first novel by A.G. Riddle and the first in the Origin Mystery series, is a painstakingly complex technothriller about a modern conspiracy involving ancient artifacts from a high–tech Atlantis and a global organization attempting to violently push forward with the next step of human evolution.
The point of view alternates between several suspenseful mini–stories that are shown to be related later on.
First, there is research going on in Antarctica, which uncovers a U–977 Nazi submarine (page 1) and afterward even more spectacular finds.
Secondly, there’s Kate Warner leading the work at the Autism Research Center (ARC) in Jakarta, Indonesia, testing a possible cure for childhood autism (9). Kate furthermore has a mysterious familial past. (Her true parenthood is revealed on page 410).
Thirdly, there is a covert counterterrorism organization called Clocktower and the other main character David Vale is the Jakarta Station Chief (15). Clocktower is given lengthy description beginning on page 30. Clocktower becomes aware of the Toba Protocol, a plan for a major terrorist attack (15). On page 63, there’s a reference to how the Toba Protocol is related to Mount Toba. On page 93, there’s a reference to how it’s related to the Toba Catastrophe, a historical hypothesis about human evolution during the Ice Age.
Fourthly, there is the Immari Corporation, a global firm with divisions in many fields, and which Clocktower knows is involved with terrorism. It turns out that the Toba Protocol is being orchestrated by the Immari Corporation (93). The firm actually has deep historical roots, with financial involvement with the Dutch East India Corporation (34, 70), work on terrorist attacks (60), and a relationship to an ancient tribe (242, 250–251, 256).
Around the middle of the book, another subplot is depicted in the vivid writing of an old miner’s journal given to Kate (258). The events recorded in the journal begin during World War I and continue until 1938, read off and on by Kate and David until page 366. The journal explains the relationships between many of the subplots and how evil the Immari really are. Of particular interest is an explanation of the true nature of the Spanish Flu (345) and Die Glocke, a supernatural bell sought by the Nazis (364).
And what is the Atlantis Gene? Basically, it’s a gene which could save some people from the Toba Protocol. But the way it works is more complicated.
As the plot progresses, characters’ motives and allegiances come into question. The phrase “Question everything” is a good description of where the plot goes. Readers may even need to take notes to keep track of characters, as several undergo name changes.
The ending feels overdone, to say the least. By the end, it seems that anything is possible in the plot. There’s a humongous science fiction cliffhanger. The story will continue in Book 2: “The Atlantis Plague.”
To be nitpicky, there are several typographical errors, sometimes regarding facts important in the given history. There are some awkward tense changes and inconsistent use of icons for section breaks. The miner’s journal becomes more intriguing than what’s happening to the main characters who are periodically reading it and the scene changes between the readers and the miner get self–conscious. It might have been better to just continue the journal entries to the end, with no transitions.
Overall though, it’s quite a story. It seems like Riddle spent years thinking up explanations to actual historical mysteries. The writing is high quality, similar to Michael Crichton, with less technical descriptions, but a similar endeavor to explain paranormal phenomena scientifically. As a sign of the immense reader interest, the number of Amazon reviews has more than doubled since this reviewer’s first page access. Most reviewers have rated the book with five stars.
Author: A.G. Riddle. Book: The Atlantis Gene. Series: The Origin Mystery. Book number: 1. Date: 2013.