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.Read more...
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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."
- ISBN-13: 9780544348257
- ISBN-10: 0544348257
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
- Publish Date: May 2015
- Page Count: 384
- Reading Level: Ages 12-UP
Series: Undertow Trilogy
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-03-30
- Reviewer: Staff
Buckley (the N.E.R.D.S. series) jumps from middle-grade to YA with this trilogy opener, which sees two worlds colliding as New York City’s Coney Island becomes occupied by the Alpha, an ocean-dwelling race that is nothing like the mermaids of myth. The Alpha come in all shapes and sizes, from the alluring Sirena to the deadly Nix, resembling myriad aquatic species. Their arrival inspires fear, hatred, and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Lyric Walker, who hides secrets of her own, is chosen by her high school’s new principal to help several Alpha teens integrate into the school—a dangerous proposition with anti-Alpha sentiment rapidly on the rise. Buckley’s depiction of the Alpha relies much on standard supernatural tropes (they’re proud, honorable, arrogant, and warlike), but he also imbues them with an alien mystery. Lyric’s plight is predictable, especially her blossoming attraction to Alpha prince Fathom, yet her path holds some surprises, and Buckley draws clear parallels between the vicious anti-Alpha attitudes and existing racial and ethnic prejudices. It’s a fascinating, engaging, and tense tale, and a strong start to the series. Ages 12–up. Agent: Alison Fargis, Stonesong. (May)
A new species on shore
In the powerful first installment of a new trilogy from Michael Buckley, species collide in this sci-fi tale infused with emotionally charged themes of immigration and xenophobia.
Lyric Walker and her family live in “Fish City,” Coney Island’s nickname since the arrival of the Alpha, aquatic humanoids that emerged on the shore three years ago. With Alpha looting the city by night and human gangs retaliating with extreme violence, Lyric’s neighborhood is under martial law. Lyric’s father is a policeman, but it’s not a sense of duty that keeps the Walker family in Fish City; they’re guarding a secret that makes passing the checkpoint impossible.
Despite protests, the president has ordered Coney Island to allow Alpha children into public schools. Lyric’s mysterious new principal assigns her a dangerous task: befriending Fathom, the handsome but deadly Alpha prince, in hopes that their relationship will influence other students and quell the interspecies brutality. As Lyric defends herself against mistrust from both sides, she is pulled into the heart of the integration conflict and drawn perilously closer to Fathom.
Buckley delicately mirrors two cultures steeped in violence, subtly indicating parallels between the novel’s world and our own. Well-plotted and containing one of the most beautifully written family relationships in recent YA fiction, Undertow’s execution is as captivating as its premise.