Over a decade ago, Andy McDermott’s Nina Wilde & Eddie Chase series dared to compete with outlandish Hollywood action blockbusters rather than with other books. And it worked in creating spectacle studded, outlandish roller coaster rides with jaw-dropping action sequences and breathtaking set pieces. Each book in this series feels wilder than the cinematic experiences of MCU, Michael Bay movies, and the Fast and Furious series.
McDermott’s visual narrative is immersive, appropriately detailed, and fast as a rocket. These books focus on unrestrained entertainment in ways that movie studios would get jealous of whoever adapts this series first.
This series perhaps has the best duo/couple protagonists’ of the action-adventure genre, excelling at crazy action sequences, comedy, problem solving, and also in their personal conflicts aka couple’s quarrels that get very toxic in many parts of this series.
The Hunt for Atlantis brings Nina Wilde, who’s just finished her Ph.D. at Archeology, into a race to find the lost city(or the globally spanning ancient civilization) of Atlantis before a murderous and tactically efficient cult finds it. Like many books in this genre, all is not what it seems. The real villain is closer to the protagonists than they think.
Nina’s theory about the location of this sunken city of myth has made her a joke in the academic circles, but a Norwegian billionaire, Kristian Frost, helps her on her quest aided by his Orichalcum orb. This substance of fantasy is a long-lost mineral from Atlantis within this series’s fictional universe. But Frost has his own crazy agendas, making him the first of McDermott’s outlandish, enigmatic, Bondian villains.
Eddie Chase, the male protagonist of the series, is a former SAS commando, turned mercenary/bodyguard who’s been working for shady figures and doing questionable things for a while. He’s hired by Frost to back up Dr. Wilde on their expedition, where they find settlements of Atlantis on multiple continents, and all of them get blown up in disastrously crazy action sequences. Serious history fanatics might get angry as Andy McDermott destroys spectacular archeological landmarks(some real, but mostly fictional places based on our real world’s myths) in amazing action sequences that remain cinematic in all these books.
Physically a short and ugly version of Jason Statham, Eddie Chase usually has the best inappropriately fun dialogues, comic relief, and his brand of insanely unrealistic action sequences. His stupid antics are matched by his smart, resourceful, and almost superheroic actions. Nina Wilde, a brilliant and attractive redhead, is struggling to get the respect she wants from the Academia while her ego conflicts with her seniors. She’s motivated and driven, but she becomes a problem in the series due to the Chosen One(Harry Potter/Luke Skywalker type) complex that she gets in this book.
Both Nina and Eddie have equal importance as the co-protagonists, but Nina becomes annoying and hateable as the series develops and progresses her character and personality, and Eddie grows more likable as the classic working-class hero whose morality remains true. But most of their conflicts in these books are issues with communication, which most real humans have. The recurring side cast of characters are likable, but McDermott has an addiction to killing fan favorite characters, making him like the George R R Martin of crazy action adventures.
On the action side, this book is filled with mercenaries on various sides, heavy property damage, and a bullet ridden, explosive, gritty and bloody good time. Helicopters get destroyed in almost all books in this series, along with many other vehicles that meet their accidental demise. A scene in this book has Eddie in a Ferrari(the Ferrari does get destroyed) racing into a speeding Airbus 380 loaded with many large tanks of a globally genocidal bioweapon. This sequence ends with Eddie and Nina riding a Suzuki superbike out of the flying and exploding airplane to land on the surface far below. That’s just a sample of the awesome craziness of McDermott’s beyond cinematic entertainment.
This book avoids any overt romance, which is good as the stories focus on the epic adventures of the co-protagonists. Nina and Eddie do get married in the series, but that doesn’t hinder the crazy action packed fun of these stories. It unfortunately makes them more annoying with their personal problems and conflicts as the series progresses, but I think it’s a great way to humanize them as real, emotionally stupid, normal people despite their superhuman actions in every book.
In terms of tech, this book is loaded with real weapons, awesome vehicles and cutting-edge machines. Thankfully, the details are to the point without going overboard, and keeps the story flowing. (Unlike some tech manuals that get disguised as technothrillers, which slow down the story.)
McDermott began his universe with this book, and it developed through 15+ books in this series(as of when I’m writing this) expanding his lore, special tech, villains, cults, characters, ancient tech and secrets, and mind blowing concepts grounded in the real world where he weaves myths and elements of fantasy & sci-fi within the action adventure techno thriller genre. This book(and series) mixes the feel of Cussler’s classic Dirk Pitt(but on extreme steroids and adrenaline), Matthew Reilly’s books, Bond movies, and crazier things to create an original gem for outlandish, fun action-adventure aficionados.