Thursday, March 31, 2022

Mini-Review: Atomic Anna by Rachel Barenbaum

Atomic Anna by Rachel Barenbaum
Publication: April 5th, 2022
Hardcover. 448 pages.

About Atomic Anna:
"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?"

If you are looking for a big time travel story that focuses heavily on sci-fi elements, then this isn't quite that book; however, if you like time travel and the idea of following three generations of women throughout their lives and determination to change their lives and the world, then this is a book you'll enjoy. 

What I liked: I really liked getting to know each of the women in this family, including Anna, her daughter Molly, and her granddaughter Raisa. I found Raisa's storyline to be the most compelling and appreciate how well Barenbaum seemed to capture many of the conflicted feelings she held about her role and desires. I also loved getting to dive into this time period and hear the stories and struggles of each character during the various tumultuous historical events of their lives, as well as what the world was like at these times. It was also really fun to hear about Raisa's comic book creations and Atomic Anna, and I almost wish we had gotten some sort of excerpts from these imagined comic books in the book. 
What I didn't like: I found that something to do with the writing and dialogue kept me at a bit of an arm's length from the characters themselves, which prevented me from getting too invested in this story. And although I liked the time travel element in general, I found myself a bit uncertain at times about exactly how it worked or what to expect. The time jumps did a good job of keeping the pacing up, but they often left me feeling a bit out of place and struggling to remember what was happening during a certain year or what was going on, which definitely took me out of my enjoyment every now and again. 

Overall, I've given Atomic Anna 3 stars! I really enjoyed aspects of this book, but there was just something that prevented me from getting more into this story and following the time travel aspect as much as I'd have liked. However, I do still think this is one that a lot of people are going to love, so definitely check it out if the premise sounds interesting to you!
 *I received a copy of Atomic Anna courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Buy the book: Amazon |


  1. The time travel element sounds cool, but I'm a little wary that there's *something* that kept you from fully enjoying the story!

  2. The blurb makes this sound really good, but I can see how it could get confusingšŸ˜