Atlas by Becca C. Smith
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: November 16, 2013
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Kala Hicks is part of a covert elite military team that answers directly to the President of the United States. But during an emergency mission aboard Air Force One, Kala is shocked to discover that the real threat is none other than the President himself. Defying her commanding officer, Jack Norbin, Kala takes the shot, and her life changes forever.
The moment the President is killed, a supernatural force speaks to Kala, telling her that she has to commit one act of atrocity every four days… or the world will end. Thrown into a reality she never could have imagined, Kala faces off with creatures of legend; from demons determined to make her fail and plunge the Earth into chaos, to angels who don’t trust her to do the job and are willing to kill her to claim it for themselves.
Pitted against the forces of good and evil, Kala must choose whether to save the world by doing the unthinkable, or sit back and let it burn. And four days later, she’ll have to do it again.
What drew me to "Atlas" by Becca C. Smith was the fact that it was an urban fantasy book that dealt with Greek Mythology. We've all heard about the Greek Titan Atlas, who was punished by the Olympian gods and forced to hold the world up on his shoulders (or hold up the columns that separate heaven and Earth, depending on which mythos you're listening to), but Smith takes the god and gives him a new twist. Instead of literally holding up the world, he is instead charged with keeping the balance between good and evil, otherwise there will be catastrophic consequences.
Enter Kala, our female protagonist. In Smith's story, much like the myth where Atlas tricked Hercules to do his job for him, Atlas has been tricking humans to keep the balance for him for centuries while he relaxes from afar. Through a series of events that weren't in her control, Kala accidentally becomes the "new Atlas" (or the human who has to do his dirty work for him).
Something I liked about this book was how reluctant Kala was to believe in this weird thing that was all of a sudden happening to her. Too often in supernatural stories, people just accept things without thinking twice about it. It's the whole, ‘Oh, my boyfriend's a vampire? Well, that's cool as long as he loves me forever’ mentality. "Atlas" takes a more realistic approach and Kala fights to install reason to her situation by believing it all to be a dream or that someone has slipped her hallucinogenic drugs. It made me happy to see Kala having a real response to the fact that the supernatural was suddenly invading her normal life.
Kala was also a pretty likable character for me. She grew up in foster care, which made her emotionally distant, and sometimes I just wanted to scream at her to let someone in instead of pushing them away, but as a whole, I think she worked. She had a dry sense of humor that made reading a book that centered on her enjoyable, and her sarcastic wit when dealing with the people around her made me smile at times (I love a sassy leading lady).
I also wasn't the only one who liked Kala. Something that slightly irked me about the book was that Kala seemed to be suffering from what I'm going to call the ‘Sookie Stackhouse Effect’. For anyone who has read Charlaine Harris' books or seen the show "True Blood," you'll know that there's hardly a time when a male character is introduced that he doesn't automatically fall in love or lust after Sookie. It's a situation that gets old fast, and also something that seemed to be happening in "Atlas.” Kala's great and all, but it seems ridiculous that she had humans, demons, and angels all wanting her as soon as they met her.
Speaking of demons, another character I enjoyed was the King of the demons, Asmodeus. With him being one of the bad guys and all, I wasn't exactly sure if I was supposed to like the scenes with him in it as much as I did, but whatever – he was highly entertaining. Kala and his back and forth was wonderful as he tried to get her to want him and she tried to express her disdain as rudely as possible.
"Atlas" is something I recommend to anyone who likes a good Urban Fantasy read. Yes, it deals with some Greek Mythology, but it's all explained in the book in case you aren't as familiar with the legends. It was a story that had me continually trying to figure out how it was going to end, and when the end did come, it wasn't something I saw coming.
Becca C Smith received her Film degree from Full Sail University and has worked in the Film and Television industry for most of her adult life. In 2010 Becca published her first novel, Riser. She also wrote the sequel, Reaper, the following year. In 2012 Becca released the YA book, Alexis Tappendorf and the Search for Beale's Treasure. She is also the co-author of the teen graphic novel Ghost Whisperer: The Haunted. She currently lives in Los Angeles, CA with her husband, Stephan, and their two cats Jack and Duke.