The Age Atomic by Adam Christopher – Book Review [Bane of Kings]

The Age Atomic

Bane of Kings reviews The Age Atomic by Adam Christopher, the sequel to one of my favourite debut novels of 2012, Empire State, with both books published by Angry Robot Books with The Age Atomic being released on Wednesday in the UK.

“A wonderful novel, The Age Atomic proves that Adam Christopher can write sequels just as well as anyone. The most fun read of 2013 so far, and one of the best.” ~The Founding Fields

I loved Adam Christopher’s first novel, Empire State, when I first read it back in 2011. It would have made it high on my best of 2011 list as well, but for the fact that Seven Wonders was better. Needless to say, The Age Atomic was one of my most anticipated releases for 2013 and would be high on a list if I had actually remembered to make one. Regardless, it is nonetheless an awesome book and if you enjoyed Empire State then you should certainly pick up this novel, which might well be the first book classified as Atompunk that I’ve read.

The sequel to Empire State – the superhero-noir fantasy thriller set in the other New York.

The Empire State is dying. The Fissure connecting the pocket universe to New York has vanished, plunging the city into a deep freeze and the populace are demanding a return to Prohibition and rationing as energy supplies dwindle.

Meanwhile, in 1954 New York, the political dynamic has changed and Nimrod finds his department subsumed by a new group, Atoms For Peace, led by the mysterious Evelyn McHale.

As Rad uncovers a new threat to his city, Atoms For Peace prepare their army for a transdimensional invasion. Their goal: total conquest – or destruction – of the Empire State.

Whilst the book itself is set several years after Empire State, in 1954 – the other New York has only seen a few months changing in a very CS Lewis-esque fashion. But of course, don’t go expecting any Narnian-related themes with The Age Atomic, for I think it’s quite obvious that Lewis and Christopher are both very different authors and both really strong ones. Things seem to be going to hell in both worlds – Empire State has Rad Bradley and newbie Special Agent Jennifer Jones discovering an underground organisation and the creation of a new robot army, whilst as is expected, things in New York aren’t too pretty as well, and that is largely due to the new group, Atoms for Peace, led by Evelyn McHale – a character who is one of the key players in this book and really adds another layer of awesomeness and originality to the story with her character. I won’t spoil it for you, but she plays a key role in the book, as does most of the cast. Her role however is mainly notable for the fact that she was indeed a real life character who committed a real life suicide, as Christopher explains at the end of the book. You’re probably asking – how can she appear in this book if she committed suicide? Well, the answer can either be found on other reviews or in the actual book – I’ll just leave the ‘surprise’ there for you because I’d rather not spoil what I can.

The Age AtomicThe action here is wide and varied and we get some awesome scenes in Empire State and New York. Christopher’s pace is fast and furious and you’ll struggle to be able to put the book down – I loved every second of this. The noir aspects of The Age Atomic are just as clear here as they were in Empire State, however the novel is a whole different beast to its predecessor even if it is recognizably part of the same series. The book manages to be as a result not only entertaining and fun, but also fresh, for the problem with some sequels that I’ve read is that they can feel very similar to the original – Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, the sequel to The Hunger Games, being a prime example.

The cliffhanger at the end of The Age Atomic is epic. Seriously, if you enjoyed Empire State and are looking forward to this then you will be blown away by it. Christopher has crafted a strong sequel, with a very fast pace and a very fun book. Bradley is a strong character again here and he continues to develop over the course of the story along with the other cast, showing that Christopher has mastered the split between the increasing of the tension and the development of characters. I am fully looking forward to where he takes the reader with the next book, or if he chooses to write in another setting.

All that said, The Age Atomic might just be one of my favourite reads of 2013. It’s certainly the most fun, out-beating The Emperor of All Things, another fun read that I’ve read recently. For the best, I think it’s tied with Peter V. Brett’s The Daylight War and Myke Cole’s Fortress Frontier.

VERDICT: 5/5

THE EMPIRE STATE SERIES: The Empire State, The Age Atomic,

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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