Monday, May 16, 2016

Review: "Undertow" by Michael Buckley

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.

Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group via Netgalley for the free review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
It is rather difficult for me to write a review of this book because while I enjoyed some aspects of it, overall it's just not really the book for me.  I ended up liking it more than I thought I would at the start, so that's something!

Here is what I liked and didn't like:  
  • I had a really hard time getting into this book at first.  In fact, I almost put it aside permanently, but around a quarter of the way in, things picked up and drew me in a bit more.  
  • I really liked Lyric's friendships with both Shadow and Bex.  On the other hand, I felt Fathom's character could have been developed more.
  • Some of the action scenes were super exciting!
  • Lyric was quite brave and a bit feisty, so that was enjoyable.  She also had a pretty decent relationship with her parents, which is somewhat unusual in YA fiction.  I enjoyed her dad's bad ass cop character, and her mom - well, let's just say there's a scene where her mom shows her true colours that had me cheering.
  • Unfortunately, the romance felt forced.
  • Also, the ending was over-the-top cheesy!
  • I still have lots of questions about things like the gauntlets, the different types of Alpha, the powers of those respective classes, and even why the Alpha came onshore in the first place. What did the other countries do with their Alpha, or did the Alpha only come ashore on Coney Island? I suppose I could reread the beginning to see if maybe I missed those details, but I probably won't.
I don't think I'll continue this series simply because the premise doesn't interest me.  The whole idea of creatures from the sea trying to mingle on land with humans is not my cup of tea, but if this concept tickles your fancy, by all means give "Undertow" a try.  There are some good characters and action scenes that you should enjoy.

My rating:

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