Sunday, January 3, 2010

Ultimately, too dumb to recommend

The Hunt for Atlantis
by Andy McDermott

Archeologist Nina Wilde is on a quest, a quest she inherited from her parents, who died on the hunt. She's searching for the lost continent of Atlantis. When her own university refuses to fund an expedition to the Gulf of Cádiz, Nina is offered funding from billionaire philanthropist Kristian Frost. Almost immediately, people start trying to kill her. In addition to the funds, equipment, and logistic help for the expedition, Frost gives her two more things--two bodyguards, Eddie Chase and Hugo Castille; and his daughter, Kari Frost, to assist along the way.

Soon the foursome is jumping from continent to continent--Norway, Iran, France, and Brazil being just a few stops along the way. And everywhere they go, they find themselves in mortal danger from a man called Qobras, the leader of a group determined to see that the remains of Atlantis are never discovered. Why do Qobras and his followers want to suppress the greatest archeological discovery of all time? And why is Kristian Frost willing to spend millions to find it?

Sounds good, right? This is an excellent thriller/adventure premise. Sadly, the execution of this debut novel was terribly flawed. For starters, the female protagonist, Nina, is bland and uninteresting. I can't say I really cared about her. Conversely, the male lead, Eddie Chase, is portrayed as a diamond in the rough. Unfortunately, there was not enough diamond and too much rough. Eddie can be vulgar and exhibits an offensively sophomoric sense of humor. (In general, what passes for humor in this novel fails.) Ironically, it was the secondary characters of Hugo and Kari that I found to be more interesting, appealing, and dynamic, but alas, they aren't the focus of what will be a continuing series.

Another thing McDermott does right is action. The book is full of it, and some of the fast-paced action sequences are really enjoyable to read. But the 500+ page novel is overly long, and the pace and storytelling are uneven. My biggest problem, however, is something I complain about a lot in these types of novels... just sheer stupidity. Over and over McDermott puts his characters into or pulls them out of frankly unbelievable situations. He succumbs many times to the cheat of convenient plotting. But most unforgivably, much of what he writes is so purely wrong as to be ridiculous.

I completely lost my ability to suspend disbelief when the characters finally got onto/into the water. Either research isn't Mr. McDermott's strong suit, he thinks his readers are stupid, or he simply doesn't care, but what he wrote displays a complete lack of understanding of the laws of physics, fluid dynamics, and several other sciences. I can't give examples without spoilers, but the dumbness was fairly egregious. And the novel's dénouement was the final nail in the coffin. It was beyond ridiculous.

Debut novels are often tough going, and I do see glimmers of promise here, but not enough to inspire me to read further.

No comments:

Post a Comment