Undertow by Michael Buckley

April 30th, 2015 kimbacaffeinate Review 40 Comments

30th Apr
Undertow by Michael Buckley
Undertow
by Michael Buckley
Series: Undertow #1
Published by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Amazon
Goodreads
Rating: One StarOne StarOne Star

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.

Between the awesome cover and the synopsis of Undertow by Michael Buckley, I knew that I had to try this young adult science-fiction fantasy. The first in the Undertow trilogy Buckley did an excellent job of drawing me in and introducing an ocean-dwelling race that has invaded the shores of Coney Island. From prejudice to romance and despite some issues I quickly became caught up in this descriptive, fast-paced tale.

Caffeinated Aspects:

  • The concept for Undertow is intriguing. Much of the Earth’s ocean has yet to be explored and we are constantly finding new species so the idea of a five-nation race of ocean dwelling warriors appealed to the geeky side of me. These beings known as Alpha’s have invaded the shores of Coney Island. As you can imagine this has caused the American nation to respond from quarantined areas to negotiations. Tensions are high; inhabitants of the area have fled or are dealing with a strong military presence.
  • Through our protagonist Lyric Walker, a sixteen-year-old native of Coney Island, the story unfolds. She shares events, her experiences and eventual her interaction with Fathom, the crown prince of the Alpha’s. Secondary characters from friends to the Alphas added interest fleshed out the world and created side stories giving the tale a well-rounded feel. Lyric’s family has a secret and that secret forces her to corporate with authorities. This has her meeting the young prince Fathom and helping him learn the culture and assimilate to his new surroundings. Their interaction was fascinating as we see two different cultures interact. A romance of the forbidden variety develops.
  • The world building from the description of the Alphas to their hierarchy and religion captivated me even as I had questions. While we learn things through Lyric’s experiences, Buckley’s descriptive writing style brought the story to life. I loved that we experienced it through showing. We did not get heavy info dumps although the Alphas have been in Coney Island on the shore for three years while the government heads talked. The authorities decided to send a select group of Alpha children to high school. It was suspenseful and action packed with twists and turns.
  • Buckley really addresses prejudices and paranoia from the tension and unrest in citizens to the military and media dynamics. He highlights both sides of the equation allowing us to experience both the Alpha side of things and the human one. We see those who want to understand and others who want them destroyed. Culture misunderstands are at the forefront and allow the readers to ponder what his or her own reactions would be.

Decaffeinated Aspects:

  • The romance while in the background was to be me unnecessary and under developed. Lyric has a human friend whom she hooks up with and it did nothing to enhance the story or character. Enter Fathom who looks more human than the others and she gets butterflies. Ugh. I know some folks need a romance, and maybe this thread will excite you but it lacked believability for me.
  • I wanted more information about the original Alphas. I would love a prequel or novella about the twenty Alphas who came to shore and assimilated before the invasion. I will not say more because well, “spoilers darling” but this line of the story really had me curious.
  • Bex is Lyric’s best friend and her storyline has depth and sadly a great big hole in it. She disappears for days and darn it, I want to know what the happened.
  • I liked being in the dark and learning about the world through Lyric but I think I would have preferred Undertow more if it had been the second book in this trilogy with the first novel focusing on the twenty and actual invasion. Am I making sense? For me it would have strengthened the story and given it more meat.

Undertow was a fun read, but aspects and questions have me wanting more. This may be better explored from your library. I will be curious to see what Raging Sea the next book brings.

About Michael Buckley

New York Times bestselling author Michael Buckley was born in Akron, Ohio. He tried his hand as a stand-up comic and lead singer for a punk rock back before attending Ohio University. After graduating with honors he moved to New York City to be an intern on the Late Show with David Letterman which led to stints developing programming for Discovery Networks, MTV, MTV Animation and Klasky Csupo (producers of Nickelodeon’s Rugrats). Today he lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife, Alison, and their son Finn.

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. She's a self-professed Whovian, as well as a Supernatural, and Sherlock Holmes junkie, She enjoys sharing books, tips, recipes and hosting the Sunday Post. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat... Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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40 Responses to “Undertow by Michael Buckley”

  1. Melliane

    The worldbuilding sounds really interesting and different and that’s always something really interesting to discover but it’s too bad for the other points or even the romance I confess. thanks for the review. It was a new one to me.
    Melliane recently posted…Petite pause / Little BreakMy Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I loved his creativity with the characters Melliane.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      The world and descriptions are cool, enjoy Karen

  2. Kristin

    I was seeing this everywhere and I thought it was an adult book. I think I turned down the ARC, too – Oops. Talk about rushing to judgement based on the cover and title. I’m actually kind of glad I didn’t have time for it b/c it has the same premise as Alienated by Melissa Landers and I don’t think I can read that premise 2x.

    Great coffee review! I love the format – niiiiiiiiiiice 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Are you back? Thanks I use this format and several others, it mixes things up. I haven’t read Landers’ book. Despite issues I enjoyed myself

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I hope we get a prequel or maybe book two will deliver 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Yeah…it wasn’t needed but the world was cool and had me curious 🙂

  3. Rita

    I understand your frustration with the underdevelopment of the plot and lack of info about the “others”. Perhaps the second in the book will have a flashback explaining everything further. First books in a series are not always my favorite because they can go from either extreme info dump to confusion. It’s a fine line to give the reader what they need to know but yet not fall into these two traps. I will still want to read this, if for no other fact than I was raised in NY and have been to Coney Island area many times, most recently to the NY Aquarium there a couple of years ago.
    Rita recently posted…Time for a May Giveaway!My Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      That is my hope Rita..or a prequel. I was born in South Jersey and have visited many times as well..so that was cool, although there wasn’t a lot of detail since it is 3 years after their arrival.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Yes, I don’t regret reading it..I just wanted more.:)

    • kimbacaffeinate

      You know me Kay I read everything. This wasn’t a heavy science fiction so you might like it

  4. Heidi

    Yep Yep Yep…..nodding my head with all your decaffienated aspects. I read this a couple of weeks ago and wrote up my review which is up on the blog next week, and I think when you read it, I will have touched on all your issues. I still liked it, but dang it I wantted it to blow me away.
    Heidi recently posted…Review: All the Rage by Courtney SummersMy Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Thank you Heidi..sometimes I second guess my feelings since I am an adult reading a YA novel and hearing you voiced similar concerns makes me feel better. I liked it too, the thing is I wanted, no needed more. I was so interested in those first twenty. What was it like for them, how did they learn and adapt..now that is the story I want.

  5. tonyalee

    I have been super curious about this since I saw the cover! I hate when a romance is thrown in for no apparent reason! I don’t mind romance IN the novels, but it sounds like I wouldn’t connect to this one. Lovely review
    tonyalee recently posted…Mini Reviews | April 2015My Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I love the cover and admit it is what drew me too it

  6. Ramona

    I heard such wonderful things about this. I agree that some stories turn out better if you leave out the romance. Either you focus on it, or leave it out – the halfway thing almost never works. Another amazing review, Kimba <3
    Ramona recently posted…Creative Writing Programs: Yay or Nay?My Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Thanks Ramona, despite my issues and wants I really enjoyed it

  7. Rashika

    Unnecessary romances are always such a buzz kill. I love my romances but if they serve no purpose, I am just going to be a sad owl 🙁

    I am sorry this wasn’t a better read for you, Kimba but hey at least there were good aspects to it! 🙂
    Rashika recently posted…[Blog Tour]: Crimson Bound by Rosamund HodgeMy Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Yes..when your biggest complaint is that you want more of the story based on the world-building it isn’t a bad thing

    • kimbacaffeinate

      WE get present day answers, but yes I wanted more details, a full back-story and the romance really flopped.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Despite my issues noted above I really did enjoy this Paij. I would lower your expectations and dive in 🙂

  8. Sharon

    I’ve picked this one up from NetGalley and I was curious to read your thoughts. It’s a shame that it lacked information and the romance was unnecessary. I’ll be interested to see if I feel the same way. Cheers! 🙂
    Sharon recently posted…Feature Friday – OutlanderMy Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I hope you enjoy it. Despite the issues for me, I really did find it interesting and easy to read

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Despite my concerns I really enjoyed it Lindy.

  9. Tressa

    Bummer! I was planning on reading this one and have the ARC. Hmm. Makes it hard to want to grab it if it’s not going to be really good. I’ll still give it a try. Maybe I’ll like it more than you did.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I still ended up enjoying this Tressa. I just wanted the back story 🙂

  10. Cynthia

    I read this a few weeks ago and I actually loved it. I do agree that the romance was a bit unnecessary. It was a bit . . . eh. As far as the initial invasion. I have a feeling those questions will be answered later in the trilogy. Either that, or there will be a prequel. That does seem to be the trend with some book series.
    Cynthia recently posted…BOOK REVIEW: Hold Me Like A Breath by Tiffany SchmidtMy Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I am hoping you are right. I really am curious about the twenty.