by Emma Newman
I was having quite a bad day when this book showed up on my doorstep, completely out of the blue, like a gift from the universe. I had never read Planetfall, but had heard great things about it, so you can imagine I was pretty stoked to get After Atlas, which is set in the same universe, but not exactly a sequel so I could actually jump right into it. Well, I dove. And the trip was insane.
Govcorp detective Carlos Moreno was only a baby when Atlas left Earth to seek truth among the stars. But in that moment, the course of Carlos’s entire life changed. Atlas is what took his mother away; what made his father lose hope; what led Alejandro Casales, leader of the religious cult known as the Circle, to his door. And now, on the eve of the fortieth anniversary of Atlas’s departure, it’s got something to do why Casales was found dead in his hotel room—and why Carlos is the man in charge of the investigation.
To figure out who killed one of the most powerful men on Earth, Carlos is supposed to put aside his personal history. But the deeper he delves into the case, the more he realizes that escaping the past is not so easy. There’s more to Casales’s death than meets the eye, and something much more sinister to the legacy of Atlas than anyone realizes…
Carlos – or Carl, for short – is a detective for Norope’s ministry of Justice, serving out a fifty year contract before he can be free. Only a baby when Atlas took off with his mother, the media’s been on his back for years trying to get him to talk about how it feels to be abandoned like that. His past is murky, and filled in in small increments as he leads the investigation into the murder of Casales. He has a history with Alejandro: his father brought him into the Circle, the cult Alejandro leads, and Carl might be the only person to have ever gotten away. He’s determined to solve the murder.
There’s two aspects of this novel running in parallel: the story of Carlos, a detective solving a case, and the story of Earth, in shambles after Atlas left. This future earth is both a backdrop and a major player in the story, a complex society where everything is managed digitally, real food is a delicacy and actual privacy is worth all the money you have. Usually, when you have two narratives side by side, one is likely to overshadow the other, but here I was impressed that both were so compelling. I both had to know how the murder when down, and also wanted to stay longer in this word, exploring the complexities that Newman has conjured onto the page.
The ending, which ties in with Planetfall, was brilliant, but I am sure I would have enjoyed it even more if I had read Newman’s first book. I still enjoyed the novel as a separate piece, but now I’m desperate to read the first one so I can see the hints the author dropped along the way… while at the same time being completely crushed by the twists. So cruel!
I really have to thank Roc for sending me this book. It releases next week on Tuesday the 8th of November.