Publisher's Note:  

First, we feared them. Then we fought them. Now they might be our only hope.

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 best chance for 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.


by Michael Buckley

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Overall Review:  

Undertow is definitely a gripping page-turner. Part action, part fantasy, part science fiction and with a dystopian-feel, it seems a bit far-fetch in the beginning, but it isn't any more "out there" than vampires and werewolves.  The author is initially deliberately stingy with details in order to hook the reader, but don't worry, he rewards the reader at the end by flling in the gaps in the situation and in the mythology quite nicely.  There is a love story to go with the action, but what this author really excelled at was creating a tinder-box, mob-crazed environment that is so believable that the reader fears for the characters every time they step out their front door.  The run-down ruin of Cooney Island is vividly detailed and the situation feels apocolyptic.  Likeable and fierce characters populate every page.  If you like young adult fiction, then put this on your list!

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  2 religious exclamations; 18 mild obscenities; 8 derogatory names; 6 scatological words; 10 anatomical terms.

Violence/Gore:  Character hears gunshot; character asks another if stepfather is hurting her; brief description of rough neighborhood (drug problems, sex trade, occasional stabbing)..."used to walking around bloodstains"; bruises on a character's cheek; brief scene of an angry mob throwing things, yelling, character falls with minor injuries; recall falling from bike as kid and having minor injury; report that a teenager was hung by neck with chain (hate crime); many verbal and text threats; report of arrests of three people with weapons to attempt assassination; report of cop car set on fire; report of vigilantes breaking an old woman's knee caps; character hides bruises (child abuse) under shirt; character has evidence of injuries from fighting and it is discussed at length; drunk stepfather slaps mother and daughter around; brief, intense confrontation involving hit in face, slam into wall, tasered, punching; evidence of physical abuse and policeman knocks perpetrator from chair and handcuffs; character punches another; mob is tear-gassed by police; mob activity and injuries; shooter enters school, sets off grenade and is eventually shot (heard, not seen); report that character was hit with a skillet; extended scene of gladiator-style battle, brief description, mention of blood, injuries; character is violently killed and when he is seen by others they describe his "face destroyed"; talk of invasion; brief fight with weapons and knife, mention of blood and injury; mother slaps daughter; character confesses once had to shoot someone; character bullies another who defends self, resulting in serious injuries; extended scene of fighting involving bat, knives, pipe, hitting, shoving, broken bones, unconsciousness, kicking an old lady, car crash, severe injuries, explosion, implied death; extended fight scene with weapons and intent to kill, injury and blood; extended battle scene with description of gruesome beings, destruction, death, slicing off of arms and bloody stump landing at character's feet, blood sprays, bodies everywhere, a head falls at a character's feet, ocean turns read with blood, etc.

Sex/Nudity:  Sexual references such as "sexy", "hooked up", "spooning a hobo", bestiality, adopting a boyfriend because he was "hot", etc.; characters flirt; married characters kiss; teenager says she would walk in on her parents "baby-making practice"; teenager jokes about being pregnant to try and get a reaction; character remembers have a teacher for sex education in middle school and him talking about STDs; passing reference to a man and his male partner; character explains foreign culture and others start name calling (prostitute, ho, etc.); characters kiss; report of kissing; non-detailed report of make-out session with hands up shirts; teenagers make-out and decide to have sex, boy pulls condom out of pocket, girl begins to undress and changes mind, deciding not to have sex; characters embrace; character reports stepfather attempted to force himself sexually but was stopped by force; characters are attracted to each other; boy falls asleep on girl's bed (nothing implied); character fantasizes about kissing another and often recollects; characters kiss passionately.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Mobs, bulling, discrimination, abuse (spouse and child), racial prejudice, gangs/vigilantes, death, crime, school shooter.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Stepfather drinks and is often drunk; adult smokes; reference to drugs in neighborhod; character recalls drinking beer in 8th grade; adult reads a report to teenager that says she was caught smoking pot and drinking gin; teenage character sees spent joints on the ground; passing reference to a meth dealer on the first floor.

Reviewed By Cindy
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