Monday, July 6, 2015

Review: Undertow by Michael Buckley

Title: Undertow (Undertow Book #1)
Author: Michael Buckley
Published by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Released: 2015
Summary: Three years ago, a race of undersea people called the Alpha, marched out of the sea and set up camp on Coney Island. Chaos ensued. Coney Island has now become a refugee tent settlement, cut off from the rest of the world by fences and soldiers. The Alpha don't trust the humans and the humans don't trust the Alpha, it's an uneasy truce. Then the government decides to bring some of the Alpha kids into American schools. Lyric Walker goes to this school and becomes assigned to one of the Alpha teens. These two kids struggle to understand each other and see if they can bring peace between the two races.
My Thoughts: An interesting idea that just turned out as a meh story. The concept of this book sounds really cool, these weird undersea creatures camping out on Coney Island in our modern day society. Sadly, the concept is cooler than the actual story. There were many things that just fell flat for me or irked me. I would still urge people interested to give this one a shot. Reading is subjective, so while I didn't absolutely love it, you could.
One thing I did like about the story was the sense of family. Lyric had a good family and you could tell they all loved one another. That was just nice to see.
Now my biggest problem was that I never fully bought into this world. The undersea creatures were just too strange for me to ever connect with or pity. I didn't like how it opened up three years after the initial surge. Experiencing things from the first day they came out of the water would have been much more interesting. Also, I questioned why nobody had done anything  in three years. This is a strange, hostile species, that they are just letting hang out on the shores. And if nine marines had been killed by the Alpha, why would we have just done nothing about it? It also didn't make a lot of sense to me to integrate Alpha kids into high school, when they're a different species and can't read or write.
I thought this book tried to tackle too many issues. There was domestic violence, hate crimes, bullying, riots, school shooting, illegal immigration, and otherworldly creatures; just stick to one thing and go with that. I also got annoyed by all the swipes taken at Christians, Conservatives, gun control. I don't care what the author's personal opinions are and would rather they be kept out of the story. I just want a good story. And he could have tried harder on coming up with an evil politician name. The lady it was based upon isn't evil incarnate and it just felt like more opinions that I didn't care about.
Now for the romance, the romance was dumb. I didn't buy into it at all. There was no real chemistry or realistic build up. Fathom never felt like someone I could be attracted to. And when Lyric said she loved him, I just rolled my eyes.
My last reason for not loving this story was that I didn't really like Lyric as a main character. There were a lot of times when she annoyed me. I questioned her decision making and she'd get really mouthy and rude. I just didn't like her that much. Also wasn't a fan of the way Lyric's heritage was thrown in there. That would have been an interesting few scenes to see and it was just never addressed.
So while this book had a cool concept, it just disappointed me. I'm sorry to go on a bit of a rant fueled review, but there were just too many things that irked me. I really don't know if I'll read the sequel or not. The ending was interesting, but it took so long to get there. I was interested, but I just never really enjoyed it. Oh well, you can't love every book.
Interesting concept, but meh book.

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