Before I start this post, I feel like I should point out that I am a MASSIVE Emma Newman fan. I fangirl so hard over her and her books, because she is genuinely one of the loveliest people I’ve ever met and her books are so interesting. So I’m slightly biased when I try to review something she’s written.
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…
After Atlas is the story of those left behind on Earth after the people we met in Planetfall flew off to explore the stars. It’s linked to that book, but it easily stands alone. I also read Planetfall this year (it may yet make an appearance in this list), and I loved it, but I actually preferred After Atlas. In what seems to be a pattern with the books in these blogs, it kept me up way past my bedtime because I had to know what happened, particularly after Carlos received a terrifying piece of news, which hit me like a punch to the gut. I genuinely felt physically sick at the thought of what might happen, so obviously I had to read it to the end.
The book is also set in a very interesting world, which I guess is probably best described as cyberpunk. It’s the future, but it’s clearly *our* future – you can see how it connects to our present. It’s slightly terrifying to be honest, because it’s not a nice world by any means, and I sincerely hope we don’t end up there! However, because of this, there’s also a good line of social commentary running through the book, as all good sci-fi should have.
As for why I prefer this to Planetfall, I think it comes down to the detective story aspect. I don’t read a lot of sci-fi. Something has always put me off it (I have no idea what), but I made an honourable exception for Planetfall, because it was Emma Newman. That (and three years of Nine Worlds attendance) persuaded me to take more of an interest in the genre, but it’s still not my preferred port of call when I’m looking for something to read. A detective story, however, is much more my thing, and it doesn’t matter that it’s set in a future dystopian world, because there’s still a mystery to solve. And that, I think, is why I love After Atlas.