Published: May 5th, 2015
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
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.
When I first started reading Undertow I felt it was just a wee bit slow to get started, and I was surprised by that since I had only seen really good reviews at that point. However, I must admit that the story did actually pick up almost immediately after I was having those thoughts and in the end I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Kudos to Mr Buckley for his amazing descriptions of the Alpha. Picture the pirates from Pirates of the Caribbean when they are at they're nastiest with all the seaweed and shells and etc, and then add some more nastiness - razor sharp shells that protrude from an arm, anyone? I had no problems at all in visualizing these characters and this added to my reading fun.
As much as I enjoyed the teen characters - Lyric and Fathom - their story was an inevitable romance - my favourite characters were actually the adults. Doyle, the principal at the high school was a great adult character, tough, smart and fair. Bachman, the governor, is the true antithesis of Doyle and she is so blinded by prejudice that she instigates violence and problems at every turn and dares to call it justice. There is a wonderful speech from one of the teachers about tolerance and the perils of doing nothing that completely resonated with me in regard to today's society and the unfortunate tendency to just stand by and watch instead of fighting against bullying, particularly online.
Undertow was honestly just a little predictable for me and I don't think there were many surprises, (one nice one, but I won't spoil it) but the characters and the action did keep my interest after the initial hiccup and I am looking forward to seeing how Lyric and Fathom cope with the inevitable changes in the next book. Oh, and that book cover - perfect.