Review #172 // Rivers of Fire (Atherton #2) – Patrick Carman

Rivers of Fire (Atherton, #2)

When Atherton finally hit a level of flatness, most inhabitants believed that the changes were over. That not being the case, the people have to think fast, and overcome their prejudices with each other in order to survive, while a small group works to escape the inside of Atherton before it’s too late.

Why this book?: I’m rereading this series, because I remember loving it as a kid. This is the second one. 😀

After reading The House of Powerand mentally comparing what I remembered of the first from my first read to my thoughts for the second read, I could easily tell you that I wasn’t expecting much more in this second installment. While the first was an enjoyable, middle grade story, that’s all that it was. I liked it, I liked the characters, but I wasn’t blown away, and I wasn’t desperate to read Rivers of Fire immediately afterwards. Maybe that affected my feelings towards this book, but, being blunt, I just don’t think this book was necessary to the overall story.

Let me explain. Rivers of Fire picks up immediately where The House of Power ends, so it really just felt like a continuation of the first rather than a separate book. The only thing that told me it was another book in my head was that I had to wait for my hold to come in at the local library. And that’s not a bad thing! I’ve read plenty of books that pick up right where the first ended and still make it seem like the next book in the series, rather than an unnecessary wait. The part that I didn’t like was that it was only a continuation of The House of Power and introduced really nothing new. There were a few surprises and new characters were introduced but really? Nothing blew me out of the water. Nothing was really eye catching.

It also just felt that Carman was searching for things the characters to do. At one point, he separates a few of the characters, leaving a few to wander around Atherton while the rest of the group actively struggles through something that was unnecessarily dangerous. So, as readers, we’re going back and forth, from mundane wandering and random helpfulness to other characters, to life-threatening danger that was never really explained in the first place. The only explanation we got for these dangers were just unsatisfactory and annoying as well, leaving me to sit and wait for the part to end rather then giving an explanation and making me sit up and take notice.

Final Rating: ★★★☆☆


The book wasn’t bad. Just badly planned. I liked the characters, still, and the few twists and surprises that were included made the story enjoyable. But compared to the first, Rivers of Fire just couldn’t live up to it’s counterpartThe House of Power had the advantage of novelty and surprise, and Carman tried using those in Rivers of Fire as well, but they don’t work quite as well for a second book as they do a first.

Would I Recommend?

Well, sure, if you enjoyed the first. I just personally didn’t enjoy this one as much as the first. However, I would suggest reading the third one after this, even if you didn’t like this one. I think reading this one is worth it for the larger picture.

Rivers of Fire (Atherton # 2)

Additional Information:

Published: April 20th, 2008

Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Page Count: 336

Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy/Middle Grade

Synopsis: via Goodreads

The Highlands, the center of Atherton, is sinking; Samuel and Isabel are trying to sneak into The House of Power to restore water to the world of Atherton; and Dr. Kincaid, Vincent and Edgar make their way towards the edge of the Highlands, intent on entering the secret underground refuge of Mead’s Hollow and finding the key to unlocking Dr. Harding’s brain. They must discover the solution to overcoming the threat of the deadly Cleaners, creatures now unleashed on the flattened land, before it’s too late. But Mead’s Hollow holds more secrets than any of them had ever imagined.

In this tremendously satisfying continuation of the story of Atherton, readers will experience a world turned inside out; a spectacular flood; former enemies forced to work together in the name of survival; surprising histories concerning the creator of Atherton, Dr. Harding, and his partner Dr. Kincaid, and a shocking revelation about Edgar’s own past. Best of all, the trip to Mead’s Hollow leads to a dangerous-and extraordinary-expedition through the interior of Atherton that will titillate imaginations for a long time to come. With themes evocative of Paradise Lost and Dante’s Inferno, expect Rivers of Fire to give readers plenty to sink their teeth into

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