by Stephen C. Sutcliffe

"The only people to wield nuclear weaponry for genocidal purposes were the ones who most deserved to see and experience the same."

Sutcliffe has fashioned an incendiary thriller based on the exploits of wealthy, disaffected youth who make Bret Easton Ellis’ Less Than Zero crowd look like Mouseketeers. These alienated narcissists of the 60’s and 70’s use and sell dope, become transfixed by classic rock and roll, and engage collectively in a topsy-turvy philosophy that proposes the best way to end nuclear proliferation is to set off an atomic explosion in the good old USA.

Today’s environmental activists can’t hold a candle to Sutcliffe’s committed conspirators who fly planes, assassinate drug lords, steal dirty money, bribe officials, infiltrate secure facilities, and handle lethal weapons, explosives, and military armaments like The A-Team. The author imbues his cockeyed collective with enough pseudo intellectual palaver to seemingly convince one another that their motives are pure. Of course this purity of pursuit doesn’t stop each of them from planning to be somewhere far, far, away when the mushroom cloud makes its dramatic entrance.

All things considered, ATOM is both an interesting and fun read if one is frequently empathetic to adolescent altruism, no matter how illogical it may be. The author’s extensive vocabulary is put to effective use without slowing down a narrative that steadily builds suspense. Will the self-styled revolutionaries complete their mission? Will one of America’s sleepy hamlets be consumed in a nuclear conflagration? Will sanity prevail or will zealotry triumph? And who is to say which is which? It’s just possible that ATOM may be unlike any novel you’ve read before. That alone might make it worth your time.

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