In The Lost Code (The Atlanteans #1) by Kevin Emerson the ozone is ravaged, ocean levels have risen, and the sun is a daily enemy. People either live underground, in biodomes, or the remaining habitable climate zones. Those unfortunate enough to be denied access are nomads, ranging across the growing desert, vicitim to the sun. But global climate change is not something new in the Earth's history. And Owen Parker learns this….at summer camp in a fancy biodome.
This book starts off with a bang! “The morning after I arrived at Camp Eden, I drowned for the first time.” Without spoilers, it turns out O is a descendant of a highly advanced ancient race that almost destroyed the earth by messing with climate patterns. ( I had hoped the 'big reveal' about Owens realization would happen faster page-wise but still I was pleased we didn't beat around the paranormal bush too long. I mean the wounds on his neck? Saw that coming a mile away.) Owen and his camp friends discover a remarkable common genetic trait that leads to a race to unlock the lost code in his very genes and stop the bad buys from further messing with the climate.
- Originality: 7. I agree that this is a grimly plausible dystopian future, and I liked the sci-fi elements of climate change and the biodomes the best. I think I would have liked this book more if it were a pure dystopian novel. But it also involves ancient civilizations, magical sirens, secret labs, and genetic mutations. The ancient ruins magic component--note the series title--was a bit corny at times.
- Absurdity: 10 +. I think the best way to prove this top grade is to quote the author’s note: “any book that involves kids with genetic mutations* at a summer camp full of robotic butterflies inside a dome that sits atop a ten-thousand year-old temple is probably a work of fiction”. Things got cray-cray!
- Level of Paranormal Romance: 2. I totally liked Owen our narrator but didn't find him dreamy. But I imagine most camp romances are based on minimal foundations, so at least that seems realistic.
- Level of Harry-Potterness. 5. This is middling YA writing. However, the dystopian world and science made this book stand out. The sci-fi component reminded me of Beth Revis’s Across the Universe but here I found it more interesting. A win for Emerson!
*word change to avoid spoiler. You’re welcome, spoiler haters!