review; the lost code

Title: The Lost Code (The Atlanteans #1)
Author: Kevin Emerson (@kcemerson)
Pub. Date: May, 2012
Summary: What is oldest will be new, what was lost shall be found.

The ozone is ravaged, ocean levels have risen, and the sun is a daily enemy.

But global climate change is not something new in the Earth’s history.

No one will know this better than less-than-ordinary Owen Parker, who is about to discover that he is the descendant of a highly advanced ancient race–a race that took their technology too far and almost destroyed the Earth in the process.

Now it is Owen’s turn to make right in his world what went wrong thousands of years ago. If Owen can unlock the lost code in his very genes, he may rediscover the forgotten knowledge of his ancestry . . . and that “less-than-ordinary” can evolve into “extraordinary.”
Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopian, YA

I feel like I live in a world right after the big party. Like, everything was amazing and alive and people were having the time of their lives way back when, and now when I live is like the next morning, and everything is broken and trashed, technology and ideas just lying around empty, and it’s like we missed it.

The Earth Owen Parker knows is drastically different from the world we currently live in. Radiation levels have elevated to highly dangerous levels – so dangerous that humans (and animals, for that matter) can no longer live “normal” lives. Over 70% of the population has been wiped out, countless species have gone extinct, and lakes and oceans have been drained or are rapidly drying up.

In an attempt to save themselves, civilization has resorted to seeking refuge inside domed cities. While the majority of people live in these Edens, there are communities – like Owen’s – that live underground.

When Owen is selected to leave the Hub and attend camp in EdenWest, he discovers he holds the key – literally – to an ancient past and what lies in store for the future.

But the body is a simple machine. It doesn’t plan for you being underwater when you need air. It figures you wouldn’t be that stupid, I guess. And if you were, well, then there were three billion other humans out there who probably wouldn’t make the same mistake, so your genes clearly weren’t worth passing on.

The Lost Code kicks things off with a bang. Owen drowns within the first few pages and when he’s rescued he finds out he was actually underwater for much longer than what was originally thought. Much too long for any human to survive.

As the story progresses, Owen discovers those “scratches” on his neck are gills. He grew gills. And he’s not the only one: the group of older kids in charge of the camp also have gills and they’d determined to find out why – and if these changes are in any way linked to the strange disappearance of fellow campers.

While The Lost Code was enjoyable, I had two huge issues: Owen’s age and the year. Owen’s age is never given, but judging from the cover, I assumed he’d be 17/18. …the way he sounds in the book, however, I could easily mistake him for 12/13. In fact, all of the characters I’d peg for tweens or early teens. Although there isn’t any sex in the book, Owen wonders whether or not his crush and her ex were ‘screwing.’ I don’t know any 18-year old who says that. The whole summer camp setting combined with the way the characters spoke made it really difficult for me to think of them as being the age of the models on the cover of the book.

We stayed away from the Strip, but I remember being able to see the fire from my window, watching it go for days, and almost thinking it was beautiful. I mean, not actually beautiful but…you know how you feel like if the world is going to end, you want to be there to see it? You want to know what comes next?

The other issue I had was with the year the story takes place. Again, it’s never stated, although there were some clues. One of the leaders reads a story to them (a little hard to picture older teens being read to). That story is The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, the only novel Poe wrote. It’s mentioned that it was ~like, 250 years old~ (Another problem I had with the novel was the overabundance of the word ‘like.’) I’m a HUGE fan of Poe’s, guys. LOVE him. Hearing that this new world is only 250 away from one where Poe lived was mildly confusing. Poe lived between 1809 & 1849. So The Lost Code takes place somewhere between 2059 and 2099. ..2059 is only 47 years away. The Earth changed that much in less than 50 years? SEVENTY PERCENT of the population (7 billion people, y’all) wiped out in a few decades?

Also, assuming this book takes place in 2059, I’m a little confused as to why there were cryos – kids at the camp who were frozen before the world went to hell. Lilly said she was born in 2046. Seeing as how she was frozen as a teen, does that mean her parents paid an insane amount of money for her to be frozen for only a few years? This baffled me even more when Lilly (along with the other cryos) reminisce about fruits and vegetables that used to exist. Owen would have been well aware of those foods.

In the large stretches of blank ocean were little sea monster sketches. Things with serpent backs or giant mouths. Paul didn’t seem like the type to waste his time doodling. Maybe he had brought in a cartographer or something. Maybe the monsters were because it got boring sitting down here drawing for hours on end.

Seeing as how the series is called The Atlanteans, you’d think Atlantis would be pretty prominent, right? HA. It’s not until the end of the book that Atlantis turns up and even then it’s only through odd visions of Owen’s. The Atlantis aspect was what originally drew me to this book and, sadly, the parts I found myself skimming over.

I couldn’t connect with any of the characters; the only person at the camp I held some interest in was Leech, the cabin bully. But even he came across as a chubby little child in my mind. I just cannot picture these characters as adults.

While reading other reviews, a few readers said they figured things out way before Owen. I can say that’s certainly the case, though I hadn’t realized it due to lack of interest on my part. I couldn’t bring myself to care about these people. It’s clear readers are meant to get emotional during certain scenes and I just…didn’t.

And that romance? It was certainly a case of instalove on Owen’s part – Lilly is a beautiful, older girl with green bangs. One day they’re strangers, the next she’s flirting with him and he starts daydreaming of them running away together.

With all the complaining I’m doing, it sounds like The Lost Code is a terrible book and it’s not. It was fun and I enjoyed it. However, it’s not without it’s flaws and certain aspects (if the world outside the domes is so dangerous, how is it the kids are fine laying out and looking at the sky at the end?) made it hard for me to stay in the story.

Although it was amusing while it lasted, I can’t see myself continuing with the series.


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