Atomic Anna

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Modern Age

Atomic Anna
Author: Barenbaum, Rachel
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Time Period: Modern Age
Time Frame: 1938-1992
Geographic Area: Europe, North America
Country: Russia, United States
Topics: Chernobyl, Communism, Soviet Union
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Reading Age: Young Adult, Adult
Format: Novel
Published: 2023

Content Warning
drug abuse

World History > Modern Age > WWII / Holocaust

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, nuclear scientist Anna Berkova was asleep in her bed in the Soviet Union when Chornobyl's reactor melted down. The energy surge accidentally sends her through time. When she wakes up, she's in 1992 and discovers Molly, her estranged daughter, shot in the chest. Should Anna travel in time to save her daughter or stop Chernobyl?

Anna goes to '60s Philadelphia, where Molly is coming of age as an adopted refusenik in a family full of secrets. Molly finds solace in comic books, drawing her own series, Atomic Anna. But when she meets volatile Viktor, their romance sets her life on a dangerous course. Anna then seeks out Molly's daughter, Raisa, in the '80s. Raisa is a lonely teen and math prodigy, who finds new issues of Atomic Anna in unexpected places. Each comic challenges her to solve equations leading to two impossible conclusions: Time travel is real and so is the strange old woman claiming to be her grandmother.

These three remarkable women must work together across time to prevent the greatest nuclear disaster of the twentieth century, but simply because you can change the past, does it mean you should?

Emily's Review

I LOVE time travel stories. They always get me thinking, and this book was no exception. Atomic Anna was so much more than I expected. I thought I was getting a fun time-travel story about women scientists trying to stop the Chernobyl disaster from happening. And while it is that, at its core, this book is more about generational trauma and mother-daughter relationships, and how we can break the cycle and heal those relationships. The author also touches on topics like drug addiction and post-partum depression.

The author really tackles the idea of "just because you can doesn't mean you should." Both pertaining to nuclear weapons and time travel. What happens when you go back in time to change just one thing? what else is affected? Can you ever use nuclear power for peaceful purposes or will it inevitably be used for war?

I loved the different perspectives of the three women, but Raisa was my favorite. I love reading about strong intelligent women, particularly women in science. I'm so glad I read this book!

If you are looking for a light science fiction story with historical elements, this is a great one. Highly recommend!

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