Setting aside preconceptions from The DaVinci Code, The Atlantis Code by Charles Brokaw is about a Harvard linguistics professor, Thomas Lourds, who stumbles across an ancient artifact wanted by a secret group of Cardinals from the Vatican. Together with television journalist Leslie, and Russian police officer Natashya, Lourds and a few other characters travel the globe in search of five ancient instruments inscribed with an untranslatable language, somehow linked to the lost city of Atlantis. Where did the instruments come from? Are the ruins in Spain really Atlantis? And how can Lourds and his women escape the evil Cardinal Murani with their lives intact? These are the types of plots and action and conspiracies which I adore in a book. Running for your lives, secret languages, ancient artifacts, evil dudes wearing robes. I eat these things for lunch, and I like them.
Brokaw’s twist on an often used stock-plot (Catholic Church hides something, and someone else must discover it) was new and unique and I was thankful that it kept me entertained. Lourds is searching for five musical instruments that unlock Sacred Texts which the Church does not want known. This is the reason I kept reading, I wanted to know the key to the mystery. Did they really discover Atlantis, and would Lourds be able to translate the artifacts in time? Sadly, it’s the only thing I really liked about the book.
Before I get started on the things I didn’t like, I will confess something: I’m a woman. I know, shocking. But I’m saying that now because in case some guy reads this and thinks I’m biased because of my sex, I will also say that I’m not a moron. I know how the male brain works, but I also know how books should work and they’re not supposed to placate to the male fantasy of travelling across the globe while two hot chicks fight over you. Less is more, but Brokaw’s sexual undertones were blatantly obvious and annoying. From the first time Lourds meets Leslie and appreciates her trim figure, to the second time he sees her, wearing a crop top and a belly ring, to the time they’re on a boat together heading toward Venice and “the chop of the waves rolled their bodies together in a manner that was altogether too pleasing and too tempting,” (177).* It became way too frequent, and way too sickening. Especially when Natashya enters the picture, complete with trench coat and pockets full of guns. I believe Brokaw enjoyed turning her from a masculine character smoking a cigar, into a feminine vixen wearing pajamas with no panties later in the novel. It’s a shame it was more for his own pleasure than that of the reader’s. He’s not a misogynist, he does not hate women, but he certainly enjoyed making them into stereotypes for his own entertainment. He used the phrase “grind him into dust,”* and he wasn’t talking about a fist fight, people. Lourds is supposed to be middle-aged, but sexy; intelligent and kind. But he’s a pig. He can’t possibly understand why two women fight over him? And Leslie can still find time to be jealous when she’s running for her life? And Natashya, really? I had faith that you of all of them would remain normal, but no. Sadly, the only character who lived up to my expectation was the evil Cardinal Murani. He knew what it meant to be a villain.
- I’d give this book 1 star for the character of Thomas Lourds
- 1 star for the character of Leslie
- 2 stars for Natashya
- 3 stars for the bad guys
- 3 stars for the writing
- 4 stars for the plot and twist on religious conspiracy
- 1 star for the ending with the women
- 3 stars for the ending with the plot resolution
- Average: 2.25 which rounds down to 2
So there you have it folks, 2 stars. I am sad for that. I received this book from GoodReads First Reads program and I was so very excited to start it. I love these types of books. I do not enjoy giving bad reviews, and I’m sorry that I have to, but it’s necessary. We don’t read books just for the plots, we read them because we enjoy the characters and we can relate to them. I thought Thomas Lourds was going to be a great character, he had all the beginnings of one, but he decided to think with his libido more than he should have, and I can’t enjoy that when it happens every ten pages.
If you’ve read this book, leave a comment to your review, I’d love to hear what you thought of The Atlantis Code.
*My copy is an uncorrected ARC, so quotes and page numbers may be subject to change in final version.