After having read Willful Machines, I hadn't quite switched my brain to prepare for how dark, gritty, and deep Tattoo Atlas would be. Boy, it is thought-provoking. Tim Floreen has done it again.
“I just don’t think I believe evil is some disease you can treat, like malaria.”
There are quite a cast of characters in Tattoo Atlas, from Rem, the main protagonist who witnessed his best friend murdered by a classmate, Franklin, said classmate who is now up for the cure for evil, Callie, Lydia, and Tor, Rem's other close friends, and Rem's mom, the scientist behind the implant that cures evil.
I supposed it was like we’d been saying last night: people changed all the time, for all sorts of reasons. But if people changed all the time, what was it we fell in love with when we fell in love with someone? An idea? An illusion? There had to be something there that didn’t change, right?
In the same vein of Willful Machines, Tattoo Atlas explores nature versus nurture and the concept of "evil" (murder) being something you can turn off with a switch (ish). Rem explores his own feelings - even if Franklin can be turned off, can he look at him the same way? It's the chicken and the egg conversation; are you a cured person first or always a monster?
Tattoo Atlas doesn't shy away from the violent culture we live in. Along the way, Rem's friends continue to be murdered and you're left wondering if the implant is working (or even can work), is there a copycat killer, or is there something more to be explored? There's a lot of conversation about what it means to be nice versus what it means to be good.
PS: If you're in the Bay Area, don't miss Tim at Hicklebee's this Friday (1/20). I'll be there to moderate him and Kristen Elizabeth Clark!
by Tim Floreen
Published: October 18th 2016
Publisher: Simon Pulse
A year ago, Rem Braithwaite watched his classmate Franklin Kettle commit a horrific crime.
Now, apart from the nightmares, life has gone back to normal for Rem. Franklin was caught, convicted, and put away in juvenile detention for what he did. The ordeal seems to be over.
Until Rem’s mother selects Franklin as a test subject for an experimental brain procedure intended to “cure” him of his cruel and violent impulses. Suddenly Rem’s memories of that day start coming back to the surface. His nightmares become worse than ever. Plus he has serious doubts about whether his mother’s procedure will even work. Can evil really just be turned off?
Then, as part of Franklin’s follow-up testing, he and Rem are brought face to face, and Rem discovers…Franklin does seem different. Despite everything, Rem finds himself becoming friends with Franklin. Maybe even something more than friends.
But when another of their classmates turns up dead, Rem’s world turns upside-down yet again. Franklin insists that he’s innocent, that he’s cured, but Rem doesn’t know what to believe. Is someone else responsible for this new murder, or is Franklin fated to stay a monster forever? And can Rem find out the answer to this question before the killer, whoever it is, comes after him too?