Hiking, swimming, canoeing, arts and crafts, you don't even mind waking up early because it just means that you to spend more time in the great outdoors doing awesome great outdoorsy things.
Unfortunately for teenager, Owen Parker, his summer camp experience at Camp Eden isn't the island of paradise he envisions.
Decades ago, people were able to live on the surface of the Earth. The ozone layer protected Earth's inhabitants from being exposed to the sun's harmful rays. They weren't forced to live underground or in artificially regulated domes. Plants once grew on the planet's surface and there were live animals that were used for food. Food wasn't something that was created by a scientist in a lab.
Owen Parker has never known this other life, life before Mother Nature had her revenge on Earth's people. All he knows is that he has always lived underground with his ailing father, protected from the sun's harmful rays. When Owen receives an invitation to attend Camp Eden, his father encourages him to go, hoping that his son can experience some of the normalcy of adolescence.
Owen's experience at camp is anything but normal.
Sure, there are the usual things, like being tormented by fellow camper, Leech, and his posse. But there are also the not so normal things like being underwater for ten minutes, almost drowning in Lake Eden, and living to tell the tale.
Things don't quite return to business as usual for Owen after he "drowns." In addition to finally being noticed by the girl of his dreams, Lily, Owen begins to notice that other strange things are happening to him. He has two wound-like slits on the side of his neck and almost overnight he has become more agile and a better swimmer.
Owen begins to wonder if it was Lily's quick thinking that saved his life, or was it something else? Things begin to take an even stranger turn as Camp Director Paul, suddenly has a vested interest in him.
Whatever is going on with Owen, one thing is for certain, the answers lie in Lake Eden.
First let me say that fans of The Hunger Games need to read Kevin Emerson's The Lost Code.
The non-stop suspense, adventure and easy to love characters made this a fun and memorable introduction into The Atlanteans series. I couldn't put it down!
While considerably less violent than The Hunger Games, there are still enough gory, Sci-Fi-esque scenes to satisfy your need to see blood. Like The Hunger Games, The Lost Code, has huge undertones of hopelessness and despair that really tug at your heart and make your eyes water in situations where your eyes should not water; like in Starbucks or while on public transportation.
However, this dystopian novel hits a little more close to home.
I know there are some naysayers when it comes to global warming, but The Lost Code is a very possible "what if" scenario for when the earth finally decides it has had enough of how we humans are treating our home.
Camp Eden is the focal point for this novel. I wasn't sure how that was going to work as the setting for the novel, but what Owen and the other teens discover about the unassuming little "summer camp" will leave you reading through the novel at a breakneck pace, anxious to read more. As a kid, I remember we'd joke that Safety Patrol Training Camp was the equivalent of hell. (As a sidenote: It's not, just in case there are any parents here that are thinking of sending little Tommy or Julia. I was just a lazy kid.) In this novel, camp quite literally *is* hell.
I have to also give kudos to Emerson for creating a very compelling main character that many teens (and adults) can relate to. Owen isn't a macho captain of the football team type, or the resident cool guy with the tendency to lean against lockers or stairwells. He's tall, scrawny, and awkward and prone to extreme nerdiness. In high school you either knew him, or you were him. I was the latter so I felt an instant connection with his character.
This book is so much more than your typical dystopian or coming of age novel. There is a huge lesson to be learned by the end of this novel and one that many of us would do well not to forget.
The Lost Code quickly became a favorite and I can't wait to see what's in store for Owen in book two!
Look for The Lost Code, book one of The Atlanteans in bookstores and wherever e-books are sold, on May 22!