The Hunt For Atlantis by Andy McDermott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Hunt for Atlantis is rip-roaring treasure hunting adventure that keeps the fans of this genre on their toes. Andy McDermott doesn't bother trying to be 'literary'. He just writes a fun book here. When a reader goes into this book, they should keep that in mind. McDermott also keeps the narrative and plot in service of his goal of providing an exciting adventure. While he doesn't take himself too seriously, I think that the history and archaeology aspects were realistic, and the science seemed solid.
The characters keep you guessing. I loved the way he sets up the first meet between Nina and Eddie. Eddie is the guy you didn't expect to be Nina's future bodyguard. Eddie breaks the stereotypes of the action hero right down the middle. And I loved him for that. He's such a character, always cracking jokes and not afraid to look silly in the process. I liked that he does use levity to get through some tough situations. But at the end of the day, he can kick butt like nobody's business.
Nina is definitely an egg-head and she's in over her head, but you see her growth as the novel goes along. She realizes that discovering Atlantis has greater implications than she might have thought, and it puts her obsession (one that was also her parents') into perspective. For someone who was never around actual physical danger, she does quite well, and no one can doubt her courage. I liked the chemistry between them. It develops naturally for two people who spend so much time together and go through so much.
Kari Frost was an interesting character. I didn't like her that much at first. She was too everything: too rich, too beautiful, too physically perfect. That doesn't really change, but you come to realize that she is much like Galatea. She has become what her father created her to be. It makes you sad, because you realize how much wasted potential was there. While McDermott doesn't spend a lot of time on character development, you have plenty of pages to get to know these people through the story unfolding.
I was suspicious of the Frosts from the beginning. I think it's because I've become cynical. I couldn't help wondering what their endgoal was. Also, I admit the unlimited resources struck me as being kind of sinister. You have to keep reading to see where the author is going here, and in some ways that was surprising. It sort of takes us full circle.
I liked how McDermott continually flips things around with our perceptions of the characters' motivations. I was surprised at how the loyalties and alliances shift, but it was naturalistic.
One thing I didn't like was (view spoiler)[that poor Hugo met his demise in the very way he was deathly afraid of. That was just wrong. Left a bad taste in my mouth. (hide spoiler)]
As far as the adventure, that was very well done. This book is almost non-stop adventure, but in a good way. While McDermott doesn't hit the Matthew Reilly level of awesomeness to me, he is a good choice when I want to read for another series with lots of action and treasure hunting, fun characters, and well-integrated tidbits about ancient civilizations. The violence does get bloody at times, but not excessively gory, which is an issue for this reader.
Summing up, I didn't have high expectations for this book initially. I'm glad that I gave it a chance, because I found it quite enjoyable. I think Eddie is a standout character. McDermott takes some chances with him, and veers away from the stereotype of an action hero in a very enjoyable way. The chemistry between Eddie and Nina was good and it adds to the fun of the novel. McDermott throws plenty of twists and turns in the novel and keeps it from being too predictable. While some fussy readers would consider The Hunt for Atlantis low brow, I enjoyed it. It delivers on action, thrills, has some very funny dialogue and scenes, and gave me some main characters to root for. I'd recommend it to fans of action/adventure and those of us who wanted to be Indiana Jones when we grew up.
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