|The Lost Code by Kevin Emerson|
When Owen Parker arrives at Camp Eden for the first time, he is blown away by its beauty: there are real trees, water, insects, and the sky looks like it is not controlled by people in a tower far above. Owen’s story takes place in an unspecified year in the future, where humans must live in controlled environments within domes because strong radiation from the sun makes living outside deadly. Owen has a special opportunity to leave his own dome to attend a special camp. When Owen almost drowns taking a swim test and finds he has developed gills, we begin to understand just how special this camp is. During his time at Camp Eden, Owen befriends several CITs who also have gills, discovers he is descended from an ancient race called the Atlanteans, and begins to uncover the horrors the camp director is hiding. As the first book in “The Atlanteans” series, Emerson has set up an intriguing story filled with mystery, adventure, rivalry and romance. He also has created a vision of the future that is both impressive in its imagined technology and terrifying because of its realistic nature.
The story is told in the first person. We follow Owen’s thoughts as he goes from cabin outcast, to being surprised at finding himself friends with the older group, to leader of an adventure. The book opens with a poem referring to the ancient Atlanteans, and drawings of Atlantean symbols are pictured throughout the narrative. Most images are not drawn but written; Emerson’s prose make even the most complex idea easy to imagine.
I enjoyed reading this book. I thought Owen was a fun character to follow through his adventures. The parts that were meant to be fun were fun, the parts that were action packed got my heart pumping, and the parts that were horrifying were difficult to read because of the vivid images they produced. As I was reading, I was actually reminiscing upon my own sleep away camp days, and I think Emerson really got the summer-camp-feel down pat. After finishing, I recommended the book to a friend, and she liked it, too. We agreed that the only part we don’t like is that we have to wait for the next one!
The Lost Code is recommended to kids in grades 8 through 10 who enjoy reading about adventure, science fiction and dystopian futures. It could be considered a read-alike for Rick Riordan’s “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series.
Please Note: The version I read was an uncorrected proof.