Atlas Alone is an exciting venture into a space, filled with suspense and advanced technologies that I’m sure will populate our shelves one day. It’s a look at a future for humanity that I desperately hope never comes to fruition. Newman takes the fear-mongering of religious zealotry and political extremism to a new level, showing us the most horrifying of outcomes for humanity at large. There’s a bit of everything here in terms of genres. Science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and horror all come into play, making this a true rollercoaster of experiences.
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It’s a unique book, especially given its confined setting. Much of it takes place in an immersive gaming world, giving us glimpses of what life was like in their pre-apocalyptic world. This is a universe where immersive gaming is the norm, a mix between entertainment and escaping from the horrors of a world lost to wars and zealotry. Early on, we understand our protagonist has a history of immersive gaming, both extensive playing and creation of actual games. Her gaming experiences on the ship take her to another level entirely, presenting her with games so intensely realistic that she often forgets they aren’t real. There’s so much to the primary game itself and its ultimate endgame, and I won’t reveal any spoilers. Let’s just say the gaming aspect is essential to the story and creates this separation from reality that’s both fascinating and dystopian.
Spoiler below, but essential to the discussion…
The backstory on the CSA is truly terrifying, especially given the symmetry to our current political climate. This organization of few has destroyed the human race to further their own narrow-minded beliefs of what it means to be a human. Imagining that future is deeply unsettling, amplified by the details we continue to learn as the book advances. These are villains who believe they’ve done the right thing with have no regrets, and that makes them all the more evil.
End of spoiler!
Overall, Atlas Alone is entirely entertaining, giving us unique settings, intense technology, a protagonist who wants to do right by humanity, and a set of villains straight out of my nightmares. It’s different from anything I’ve read recently, making it an exciting venture into futures unknown.
By Emma Newman
NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.