Review – Undertow – 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.



Silver Stars 4

When I first started writing this review, my rating was a solid 3*, but I’ve upped it to a 4* because I want to read the next in the series, and am crushed it’s not released until next year!

I want to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a complimentary copy of the book. I’m just an idiot who didn’t get to it sooner!

************ WARNING*************

I’m not gonna lie. There is a character death in this book that made me sob my heart out! I’m not spoiling the book with this announcement, but I wantted to make you aware. Me + sobbing = a shockingly puffy face that is NOT attractive in any way!

The first few chapters of this book reminded me a lot of the short-lived TV series, Star-Crossed, uncomfortably so in places, but it soon became clear that the story is ‘original’ enough in it’s own right and I stopped comparing the two. Yet, there were many similarities to other stories, but they didn’t grate on me as much.

We’re introduced to a lot of characters in the beginning of the book, even if only by name, and it was a little bit of a struggle to keep them straight. In fact, this is the reason I gave up at 20% the first time round. However, the main characters were very easy to differentiate from each other.

Each one is quite a familiar trope within YA books, and that is completely fine with me. Lyric came across as older than the 16 she’s proclaimed to be in the blurb. There was a section that made me stop and think for a moment. Buckley writes that when the Alpha first came, Lyric and her friends were “gate crashing parties and chugging beer” – which to me seems fine. Us Brits start that crap pretty early. Then I realised they arrived the summer between 8th and 9th grade which would make Lyric about 14-15. Now, I don’t know much about the US having never been there, and going by what I read or watch in movies/TV shows, I can’t see that happening. When I was 14, I wasn’t out partying and drinking (That started at 16!) without having any grief from my parents (one of Lyric’s is a COP).

This section of the story, and the constant referrals to her being a “Wild Thing” three years previously just didn’t ring true with me.

Maybe Lyric seems older than she is because of her “insider knowledge” about the Alpha and her connection to them. Every now and then, this side of her comes to the surface when she feels people are getting too close to finding out the secret she has been hiding to protect her family.  Her best friend Bex also comes across as older, but that is due to having a shitty home life.

The introduction of Fathom, an Alpha prince, into the story was a good way to highlight the differences between them and the humans. However, and I understand this is not a romance book, I couldn’t see him as a possible book boyfriend. Buckley does a good job of describing the Alpha that I couldn’t picture a human wanting to become romantically involved with them, unless they can change form in some way. maybe that’s shallow of me, I don’t know. However, I did like him as a character, and his friends once we get to know them a bit better.

Some areas of the book are predictable, but that didn’t stop me enjoying the book for what it was. A story. Even if many elements were far too familiar to me from other books or films. Afterall, it’s not easy to be completely original these days.

When ***** dies, the action and the pace of the story ramps up, almost as if it’s the turning point for Lyric, Bex, and Lyric’s family.

In the blurb, it compares the book as “a blend of District 9 and The Outsiders” – I would also add in a mix of Warriors and The Great Escape to this.


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Filed under ARC, contemporary, Mystery, Review, Series, Suspense, YA

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