Onyx reviews: Atlantis Found by
Before Kate and Leo perched on its prow, Dirk Pitt® was famous for having
raised the Titanic in Cussler's breakout third novel. In this, his 15th
adventure, Pitt is very much the same cross of James Bond and Indiana Jones that
he has always been. In recent books, he has sported a trademark symbol after his
name on the cover, a device that, thankfully, does not follow him through the
Atlantis Found breaks little new ground as far as Pitt's
character or Cussler's writing skills are concerned. Cussler is a journeyman
writer, capable of putting one word down after the next to form sentences and
paragraphs, but he will never win any awards for his prose. The sentences are
often awkward, self-conscious, even painful. His characters are the epitome of
stereotypes, described using virtually the same words book after book. They are
what they do. Al Giordino, Pitt's loyal sidekick, can sleep in the most
uncomfortable positions and steals cigars from their boss. That's who Al is.
Other characters are treated with similar dispatch, actors filling their
preassigned shallow roles. Even Cussler himself appears as "the grizzled
old man with the strange name" at least once in each novel.
In spite of these flaws, Cussler's novels routinely find their way to the top
of the best-seller list. His strengths are plot and high adventure. He pits his
hero against insurmountable odds, the bigger and more improbable the better. His
schemes have gotten more grandiose with each book. No longer is it enough simply
to raise the Titanic or rescue the President of the United States. In Atlantis
Found, Pitt and his minions must do nothing less than save
the entire human race from the machinations of an enigmatic cabal.
The story crosses the planet, starting in a mysterious underground chamber
discovered in a Colorado mine. The walls are covered with an unknown writing
describing a race that ruled the planet thousands of years ago, only to have
been driven to extinction by a cataclysmic cosmic event. As Pitt & Co.
follow the clues, they realize that this ancient people was the inspiration for
the legend of Atlantis, the lost continent that reportedly sank into oblivion,
taking an advanced civilization with it.
Cussler is not shy about throwing everything into the mix. The evil force in
the novel is Destiny Enterprises, a South American corporation run by a
genetically engineered family with ties back to Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler.
They have aspirations of creating the Fourth Reich and a fiendishly devious plan
to establish a new world order with their master race. Pitt survives multiple
attempts on his life, including an assault from a long-missing U-boat at the
edges of Antarctica, as he works feverishly to head off the planet's date with
doom. The story culminates in a hair-raising -- if improbably staged -- climax
beneath the ice of the Antarctic continent.
Here is a book for readers who want to be swept away on a grand adventure.
Readers who can overlook awkward prose and preachy characters who advance the
plot by recounting what they know on a subject in order to get that information
on the page. The writing adage "show, don't tell" is not in Cussler's
Pitt is as indestructible and as ageless as James Bond. Not quite as dashing
or debonair, but Cussler tries hard at that, too. Both Pitt and Giordino have
highly contrived character developments rushed upon them in the closing pages,
and it remains to be seen how Mr. Pitt will manage this new twist in future
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