Tag: Magical Realism

The Atlas Complex (The Atlas #3) by Olivie Blake

I really really don’t know what to think of this one. On one hand, the way this, highly anticipated, series-ender wraps up is annoying as all hell, but on the other hand, it is probably one of the most realistic resolutions to such a fantastic series of untenable situations I have read in a very long time.

Let’s go back to the beginning of the story to summarize how we arrive at The Atlas Complex.

Atlas Blakely is the caretaker of an elite organization known as the Alexandrian Society. Under his care, six of the most talented and hardcore magical academicians in the world are brought in to be considered for initiation. During this time (through The Atlas Six and The Atlas Paradox), alliances are formed, broken, re-formed, and severely tested. Secrets come out related to each of the six (and a few more), and more and more information is discovered about the Alexandrian Society as a whole.

Shit gets really real, and every indicator generally points towards a significant denouement in book three.

Well, here we are at book three and the story starts to twist and turn into something that seems right in alignment with what the reader had been expecting from the previous two books: and then just flat out fizzles.

Like I said at the beginning, this could either be the most intentional setup for reflecting the actual nature of humanity in that nothing really happens given the extreme situations our characters are put in, or it could have just been a happy accident due to a plot that spiraled out of focus.

I have all respect for Ms. Blake’s ability to world-build and weave together multiple story lines, so I really didn’t see myself coming to the end of this series really not giving a damn about what was going to happen to any of characters. And I mean any of them. There are “mysterious” disappearances that seem like convenient rugs to sweep inconsistencies under, and there is a general apathy writ large, that makes me really want to re-evaluate my feelings about the previous two books.

There was a ton of potential energy built up in the first two-thirds of this massive story that I waited to be converted to kinetic, but it just didn’t ever happen. The balloon deflated in a sad “poof” and the reader was left holding a dead piece of limp rubber.

Yes, I definitely needed to read this book to get some closure on some dynamic characters I’ve enjoyed over the past couple of years, but I really really wish they’d been given the opportunity to make a better choice than the seemingly overwhelming “I don’t care.” that trended in the last parts of the book.

The Atlas Six (The Atlas, #1) by Olivie Blake

The Atlas Six (The Atlas Series Book 1) by [Olivie Blake, Little Chmura]

Holy crap, I really didn’t expect a read like this one. The premise was very intriguing and right up my alley, so I decided to take the dive.

The Alexandrian Society, a secretive group tasked with maintaining the lost/forgotten knowledge of previous civilizations, and library to the most powerful magicians in the world, have an annual initiation where they bring in six of the most talented magicians from all over the planet to act as custodians for the library while they learn and grow.

At the end of the period of time of this caretaking, one initiate will be eliminated and five will go on to be full members of the Society.

Magic, competition, ego, intrigue? I’m all in.

Then it gets really damn interesting. The first candidates we meet are Elizabeth “Libby” Rhodes and Nicol├ás “Nico” de Varona. This unique pair attends New York University of Magical Arts together, and are the fiercest of rivals. To say that they snipe at each other constantly is and understatement. When both are selected by Atlas Blakely to take part in the initiation, that kicks things up another notch. At this point, I knew I was in for a serious ride.

Next, Atlas selects Reina Mori, Parissa Kamali, Tristan Caine, and Callum Nova. Much like Libby and Nico, each is a magician of extreme talent. Unlike Libby and Nico, this three have been away from academia and are very secretive about their skills and abilities.

As the story unfolds we learn a hell of a lot more about each of the characters, the mission of The Society, its enemies and shortcomings. Each of the initiates gets more and more wrapped up in what their time at The Society means to them and to their group as a whole.

Let’s just say things get incredibly mental.

I honestly can’t go more into it without giving away anything. I will say that I read the last two chapters three times to fully wrap my head around what happened. Yeah, it’s one of those books.

To call Ms. Blake an artist is understating things. The Atlas Six draws you in and wraps you up in such a web of personality and intrigue. It is a true gem of world-building without even really having to build a world. The setting is very uniform, but the landscape and setting for this novel is really the characters themselves, and, boy howdy, there is such a rich variety of terrain. This is definitely one of those stories where I basically got knocked on my ass and had to sit there for a while re-assessing how I think about literary characters.

It’s just so hard to describe how this book affects its readers, but it will definitely affect you. I’ve read some amazing things this Summer, but I think I’m definitely going to have to crown The Atlas Six as my “don’t miss it” for Summer 2021.

Mister Impossible (Dreamer Trilogy #2) by Maggie Stiefvater

I’ve been mulling over how to approach a review for this amazing piece of fiction. Ms. Steifvater’s work is often very transcendent, but Mister Impossible just takes the cake.

The Dreamer Trilogy, follow up series to the wildly popular Raven Cycle, is focused on seminal “bad boy” Ronan Lynch and a wider exploration into his dreaming powers.

Where Call Down the Hawk set up the situations surrounding the current storyline — introducing the Hennessys, Bryde, the Moderators, etc. — Mister Impossible is more an etheric epic poem. Very quickly the deep dive into the ley lines, the quest for understanding around sweetmetals, and the indomitable personality that is Bryde, folds this novel into a dreamy story state that often doesn’t seem at home in the waking nor the dreaming world.

Per usual, the writing and character development are absolutely top notch. Ms. Steifvater always has a unique perspective on how to present scenes and situations, and Mister Impossible is a perfect example of this. There is suspense, humor and drama all present with a undertone of surrealism that just builds and builds and builds.

As the larger direction starts to unfold, there are still plenty of twists and turns that Ms. Stiefvater takes us down in a masterful execution of really looking at what the definition of humanity really is.

There is an unveiling towards the end of the book that I would absolutely love to make a parallel connection to a popular culture stalwart, but I’m just not the type of guy to spoil a storyline with one phrase. I will say that I am totally shocked and cannot wait to see how everything plays out in book three. That being said, I can’t believe I now have to wait for freakin’ book three!

I wanted to recognize special kudos to the amazing Will Patton for the audiobook of this manuscript. Mr. Patton is a remarkable performer who has breathed life into all of these two series of books. His tone and inflection definitely bring something to the table that enhances the experience.