Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Atherton by Patrick Carman

Having just read Farah Mendlesohn's article, The Campaign for Shiny Futures in The Horn Book magazine, it was interesting to read the first book in Patrick Carman's Atherton Trilogy, The House of Power. The science fiction trend really is for futuristic dystopian novels, and this is no exception.

Edgar is an orphan in the employ of Mr. Ratikan, who runs a fig orchard. Atherton is a three tiered planet. In the middle level, the Tablelands, life is difficult and water is scarce. Their fig and rabbit crops are sent to the Highlands, where a few select, fairly evil people are in control of the water. The Highlands is slowly sinking into the Tablelands, which are in turn sinking into the Flatlands, where horrific monsters called Cleaners roam the land and eat everything they find.

Edgar is in possession of a book that leads him to both the upper and lower levels, where he makes alliances and finds out that Atherton is really an experimental planet developed by a brilliant man driven to madness. When the disastrous planetary changes occur, Edgar must help align the surviving people and help everyone survive.
I liked Rivers of Fire a lot better. Science Fiction/Fantasy is not what I prefer to read, and the first book was a challenge for me. The second starts with lots of action and keeps it up, making me look forward to the third book, The Dark Planet. Certainly my students who crave this type of literature will be thrilled.
The Highlands are now sinking and flooding, the Cleaners are invading, and Edgar must uncover as many secrets about Atherton as he can in order to help everyone. To do this, he travels with Dr. Kincaid into the House of Power to retrieve information and finds out more about the planet's creator. Meanwhile, Samuel, Isabel and travel into the center of the planet and meet all sorts of horrible creatures. The citizens of Highlands and Tablelands must work together to cobble together a workable life and defend themselves from Cleaners. Nonstop action makes this an exciting read. I didn't like the hinted romance between Edgar and Isabel at the end (they are 12, after all!), but I assume the third book, The Dark Planet, explains why Atherton was created, and perhaps ties the two civilizations together again.
Watch this blog for a giveaway of these three books very soon! I am working on this with a publicist, having never done one of these before. In June, there will be a giveaway of books 5, 6 and 7 of Harry Potter!


  1. I was surprised by how much I liked Atherton! This was one of our Oregon Battle of the Books titles this year. I should read the sequel this summer.

    Cool that you're working with a publisher. How did you get that rigged up?

  2. wow, I was looking for reviews about the second Atherton book, since I just finished the first one, and I found this site. its really cool! I am twelve years old, and I write for a book review blog, www.books4hearts.blogspot.com