Monday, May 4, 2015

Undertow ~ Michael Buckley (earc) review [@HMHKids @michaelwbuckley]

Undertow #1
HMH Books for Young Readers
May 5, 2015
384 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from TBD/or Amazon

Sixteen-year-old Lyric Walker’s life is forever changed when she witnesses the arrival of 30,000 Alpha, a five-nation race of ocean-dwelling warriors, on her beach in Coney Island. The world’s initial wonder and awe over the Alpha quickly turns ugly and paranoid and violent, and Lyric’s small town transforms into a military zone with humans on one side and Alpha on the other. When Lyric is recruited to help the crown prince, a boy named Fathom, assimilate, she begins to fall for him. But their love is a dangerous one, and there are forces on both sides working to keep them apart. Only, what if the Alpha are not actually the enemy? What if they are in fact humanity’s only hope of survival? Because the real enemy is coming. And it’s more terrifying than anything the world has ever seen.

Action, suspense, and romance whirlpool dangerously in this cinematic saga, a blend of District 9 and The Outsiders.

The premise of Michael Buckley's Undertow sounded too fun to pass up. I have read mermaid books, I've read alien books but Undertow sort of combines the two. The Alpha - creatures from the ocean - are now living on the Coney Island beach. Alpha aren't happy, shiny mermaids; the non-homogeneous creatures can be violent and threatening.

While we do get descriptions of the Alpha, I had some trouble really envisioning then. Some of that was likely due to the number of different appearances as well as how different they were from anything I already knew.

(I pictured Fathom as a sort of mix of a shark demon from Buffy and Rainbow Fish - no matter how wrong it may have been.)

As much as I liked the idea of Undertow, it did not really grab my attention. At times the writing felt more juvenile - even given the subject - and it took a long time to really pull me in.

The last half or third of the novel is where I really became engrossed in the story. At that point we knew the Alpha, we knew Lyric and her family, Lyric's best friend(s), we saw how people, the government and law enforcement were reacting to the Alpha entering high school. The characters and the 'rules' had been  introduced, who was on what side was mostly known.

That was when the book turned into one I didn't want to put down. I cared about Lyric and her family, I worried about Bex, I understood Fathom and the Alpha characters better and wanted their integration to 'human life' to work. Or, at least, to not involve so much bloodshed and potential death and/or dismemberment.

I loved Undertow once it all came together. Everything that happens, right up to the very end, and all we now know has me really excited for what could happen in Book 2, Raging Sea.

thank you to the publisher for my review copy via NetGalley

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