Bookphile's Reviews > The Lost Code

The Lost Code by Kevin Emerson
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May 13, 2012

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bookshelves: arc, 2012, young-adult-sci-fi, amazon-vine
Read from May 13 to 17, 2012

The ending portion of the book was definitely stronger than the beginning. Still, I'm not all that excited about this book. It's not as well written as some other ya books I've read, and I wasn't really all that excited about any of the characters, though I didn't really actively dislike them either. I'm pretty ambivalent and would likely have just walked away from the series if the ending hadn't left me wondering what comes next. Still, I'm not entirely sure I'll read the next book. More complete review to follow.

Full review:

The Lost Code is one of those books where I think it's okay, then I strongly dislike it, then the ending redeems it a bit. In other words, it's a completely mixed bag. I was pretty sure I was going to give this book two stars, and then the ending happened and I realized that, if I had chopped off the first 3/4 of the book or so, I might have enjoyed it more. Of course, I wouldn't have been left with much of a book, but the last 1/4 is where the plot really kicks in and things get interesting. I think that if the book had started with the last 1/4 and gone on from there, it would have been a much better read. I can't help but feel that this is a situation where fewer books would translate into a better story. I'm all for series, but only if each book actually has something to say. Alas, this was the type of book where it felt like there was a lot of unnecessary filler in an attempt to stretch things into more than one book. Spoilers to follow.

First up, I will say right off the bat that I really, really disliked Owen's whole "technician" scenario whenever his internal dialog was explored. I just could not buy it. Maybe it's because my own internal dialog doesn't work this way but, regardless, every time it happened, I sort of cringed and wondered if anyone actually thinks that way. To me it felt too much like an intrusion from the hand of the author rather than an authentic window into the character's mind.

The thing that struck me as strangest about this book is that, even though the book is told from Owen's point of view, I never really felt like I knew him. Maybe that was because he was too busy having thoughts of technicians to explore his feelings about the things that were happening to him. He just never really came alive for me, and sometimes I actively disliked him because his thoughts seemed so juvenile, particularly when it came to his growing crush on Lilly. Whenever he started mooning over her, I was tempted to groan and skip ahead a few pages. I was also not very fond of Lilly. She seemed more like a collection of traits than like a person and, really, this is the problem with all of the characters in the book. None of them ever felt like a real person to me. I was always aware of them being characters in a book.

As for the secondary characters, I was interested in some of them, like Beaker, but they felt more like plot devices than people. I kept waiting for something unexpected to happen with Beaker and was disappointed when that moment never came. I can only hope these characters will be more developed in future installments, because it would do a lot for the story if they proved to somehow be a fully incorporated part of the plot.

Another annoyance of mine when reading these types of books is the setting. I just could not buy the whole idyllic summer camp is actually a den of horrors scenario. When characters live in a world with limited resources, it just doesn't make sense to me to place them in settings that seem so idle and frivolous. The logic behind this was far too flimsy to support it. I could buy that it was meant to be a playground for rich kids because the people in the Edens are blissfully oblivious to the real world, but the Edens are never developed enough for me to have been able to make this leap. I was much more interested in Owen's home in the Hub, or in the city, or in the nomads, but I never really cared about the summer camp, so I couldn't help but feel cheated by the unfulfilled promise of settings that struck me as much more interesting than the one about which I was reading.

One thing I did like, though, was the way Emerson used things like newscasts to good effect, in order to give the reader a taste of what the world looked like. I though this was a great way of providing some additional information without breaking the flow of the narrative and without giving me the impression that it was time for an info dump. I'd like more authors to take note of this technique because it's an effective way of showing the reader rather than telling.

My biggest disappointment with the novel, though, was the fact that so much of it is spent telling uninteresting details about the summer camp while the Atlantis mythology is doled out in tiny little bites. It's not that I wanted info dumps for this aspect of the story either, but it was annoying to me to have to sift through all the camp stuff in order to get to the really good stuff. I honestly thought the camp scenario could have been boiled down into a couple of chapters in favor of getting to the real story. I should have been hooked by the beginning of the book and not the ending, because it left me feeling ambivalent about whether I'll bother with any more books in the series. I'm not invested in the characters and I didn't find the camp particularly interesting, so that made me think this would be the first and last book I'd be reading in The Atlanteans. However, the ending did grab my attention, but I'm unwilling to read the next book in the series if it's going to be like this one: a lot of slogging through the boring stuff in order to get to the good stuff.
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Reading Progress

05/14/2012 page 147
34.0% "So far it's kind of meh. I'm not a big fan of the writing style and, while the world building is pretty good, I can't get away from the nagging question of what the point of this summer camp is. I see where Emerson may be going with it, but it's one of those situations where you can't help but feel it's a lot of trouble to go to in a world with so few resources."

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