August 15, 2013

Code Name: Atlas Review

I had never heard of Code Name: Atlas or its author Tony Evans, but luckily Tony found a review I had written for the book Armor on the website Goodreads and sent me a friend request saying we might have similar tastes.  I looked at his profile, realized he was an author and had one published book.  It had fairly good reviews on Goodreads (3.75 out of 5 stars), and decided to check it out.  I found it for $2 from Barnes & Nobles' Nook website so figured it was worth a shot, especially since I'm on a business trip and just finished my last book, I had nothing else to read.

All I knew going in was that it was post-apocalyptic science-fiction book and that it was apparent that Tony had military experience (which he readily admits in his biography, having done at least one tour in Iraq).  So I started to dig in with little prior knowledge, which is how I generally like it.

The book starts off near the end, the majority of its story is technically a flashback. It's told mainly from the first-person perspective of the main character, Atlas, but will switch into third-person for short periods of time when Atlas isn't present.  The writing is terse, short sentences, and Evans doesn't use much in the way of flowery language or words.  Sometimes it kind of annoyed me (you already said the wooden table two times in this sentence, Tony!), but for the most part it lent itself well to the overall feeling and environment of the story.  We're in a broken world now, where something has happened.  Atlas isn't really sure what, at the beginning of the story, because he heeded the President's advice and went underground in a bunker, hunkering down during the worst of it.

The main focus of the story is the rise of Atlas, from just trying to protect his wife and unborn child long enough to get them out of The City (we're never told which, but my feeling is it's too small to be one of the more famous southern Cali cities).  He's just a devoted husband who wants to create a safe place for them, to plant roots in creating their family and not have to worry about what's going on around them, more or less. The events of the story are all kicked into being by their relationship and the desires they both have.  Atlas makes his choices based on trying to provide the world he and his wife believe in.  Atlas realizes he has to take action to make this happen; it's in his nature, but Amori, his wife, just wants to run away with him and find that place.

I'm sure you're not surprised to know that Atlas isn't given the chance to run away when the topic is first brought up, and Atlas quickly finds himself leading more and more people due to his natural leadership abilities and semi-famous status in the "old world" as a decorated soldier.  It's during this phase that the book really shines.  Evans uses his military knowledge to really showcase the burdens of a commanding officer in charge of an entire military, even one that's comprised of mainly foot soldiers fighting on a destroyed planet.  As the story progresses, more information is discovered about why and how the planet was so badly destroyed.  It was a cool explanation.  Atlas doesn't dwell on it much because, for the most part, the reasons why and how it happened don't matter at this point.  All that matters is the now and how they're going to continue to survive each day.

Battles are very well defined, described, and detailed, giving the reader a clear idea of what's happening and why.  The strategic importance of locations was never in doubt for me, and it was very interesting to read the methods and purposes of claiming, using, defending, or attacking those positions.  Larger battle plans share the same method of delivery, and were always fairly easy to follow and gave a good sense of what was happening.

The action itself was also well described.  It was also fast-paced, chaotic, frantic at times.  Everything felt grounded, too.  Nothing was totally unbelievable.  I really give credit to him here, and you can definitely feel the personal experiences that Evans must have had in Iraq.  I never felt taken out of the action.

Another solid point for Evans was the characters themselves.  They're well done, if not stellar.  You'll meet a goodly amount of people, but I felt I understood each of them.  Their motives are understandable, especially in the times these people are living in. Even when I hated someone for what they did or are doing, I didn't think they should have done anything else, if they were to going to stay true to themselves.

I don't want to talk about the ending too much, but I'll say this: I'm glad Tony Evans found me.  It was a good read, although the stutter-step pace of the sentences was sometimes off-putting. But after finishing it, all I could think was, "I hope there's a sequel."