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Title: Atomic Anna
Author: Rachel Barenbaum
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: April 5, 2022
Page Count: 449
My rating: 2 stars
About the book:
From the author of A Bend in the Stars, an epic adventure as three generations of women work together and travel through time to prevent the Chernobyl disaster and right the wrongs of their past.
Three brilliant women.
Two life-changing mistakes.
One chance to reset the future.
In 1986, renowned nuclear scientist, Anna Berkova, is sleeping in her bed in the Soviet Union when Chernobyl’s reactor melts down. It’s the exact moment she tears through time—and it’s an accident. When she opens her eyes, she’s landed in 1992 only to discover Molly, her estranged daughter, shot in the chest. Molly, with her dying breath, begs Anna to go back in time and stop the disaster, to save Molly’s daughter Raisa, and put their family’s future on a better path.
In ‘60s Philadelphia, Molly is coming of age as an adopted refusenik. Her family is full of secrets and a past they won’t share. She finds solace in comic books, drawing her own series, Atomic Anna, and she’s determined to make it as an artist. When she meets the volatile, charismatic Viktor, their romance sets her life on a very different course.
In the ‘80s, Raisa, is a lonely teen and math prodigy, until a quiet, handsome boy moves in across the street and an odd old woman shows up claiming to be her biological grandmother. As Raisa finds new issues of Atomic Anna in unexpected places, she notices each comic challenges her to solve equations leading to one impossible conclusion: time travel. And she finally understands what she has to do.
As these remarkable women work together to prevent the greatest nuclear disaster of the 20th century, they grapple with the power their discoveries hold. Just because you can change the past, does it mean you should?
Atomic Anna by Rachel Barenbaum is a science fiction fantasy novel that is based on the real life historical event of the Chernobyl disaster. The story in Atomic Anne is one that is told by changing the point of view between the characters and with different timelines for the characters.
Anna Berkova is a nuclear scientist who was sleeping when Chernobyl’s reactor melts in 1986 and at that exact moment Anna’s dream of time travel actually came true. Anna traveled a few years into the future where she saw her adult daughter, Molly, get shot. Even though Molly and Anna had not been close with Molly being raised by adoptive parents Anna knows she needs to do whatever she can to save Molly and she needs her granddaughter Raisa’s help.
I’ve always had an interest in reading fiction based on real life events with it seeming to bring even more life into a story so I thought Atomic Anna by Rachel Barenbaum would be right up my alley. Unfortunately this one wasn’t a hit as I sat down to read it I found that the pacing seemed kind of slow in my opinion which made the story drag for me. Then as I got to know each of three generations of women they all felt too similar and not really likable and overall I’d kept wishing for more from the scifi side than what i was finding so I wasn’t a huge fan leaving this one at two stars.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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About the author:
RACHEL’S second novel is ATOMIC ANNA. Her debut, A BEND IN THE STARS was named a New York Times Summer Reading Selection and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. It was also a Boston Globe Bestseller.
Rachel is a prolific writer and reviewer and her work has appeared in the LA Review of Books, the Tel Aviv Review of Books and DeadDarlings. She is an Honorary Research Associate at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute at Brandeis University and a graduate of GrubStreet’s Novel Incubator. She is also the founder of Debut Spotlight and the Debut Editor at A Mighty Blaze. In a former life she was a hedge fund manager and a spin instructor. She has degrees from Harvard in Business and Literature and Philosophy. She lives in Brookline, MA.