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Undertow (The Undertow Trilogy) Hardcover – May 5, 2015
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From the Publisher
What can fans of Sisters Grimm and NERDS expect from your first YA novel for teens?
My fan base is the best. They’re incredibly loyal and enthusiastic, so I turned to a few 'superfans' for their opinions on Undertow. They told me it is scary, romantic, shocking, thrilling, and thought-provoking. This story is more sophisticated and mature than what I’ve written before, but so is my audience. They grew up with the Sisters Grimm and NERDS, and I wrote this with them in mind. It has my brand of humor, my pacing, and the quirky characters I’m known for creating, but aside from that, it’s a very different kind of story.
What can readers expect to find that’s different?
Everything. For one, the main character, Lyric Walker, is not a spunky kid detective. She’s a young woman living in a xenophobic, racist, violent world. She is surrounded by monsters, both real and metaphorical, and she has learned that keeping her head down keeps her alive. Second, the story has a conscience that my other books don’t have. It asks some tough questions and hopefully sparks conversations about our society and who we claim to be. One huge Sisters Grimm fan told me she was expecting an older Sabrina and Daphne Grimm but got something entirely different. She said the book felt like being tossed into the deep end of the pool. It’s unexpected, but my fans know better than to think I’m just going to keep telling the same stories over and over again.
How would you describe the Alpha - a race of ocean dwellers that arrives at the start of the novel?
One thing that needs to be clear about Undertow is that this is not a mermaid book. This is not about some girl with fins and a shell bikini who moons over some prince. Yes, some of these characters look like mermaids, but some are hulking creatures and others are walking jellyfish. One race looks like us but has razor-sharp swords that pop out of their forearms. The one thing they have in common is that they are all warriors, not unlike the Spartans, and their culture solves problems through battle. An insult is answered in blood. However, when we meet them, they are living in a tent city on the beach in Coney Island. They’re not exactly the 'mighty empire' they claim to be, but there are a number of things the Alpha say that aren’t entirely true. I don’t want to spoil anything, but when the truth is finally revealed, things get ugly pretty fast.
Teen protagonist Lyric Walker falls for Fathom - a prince of the Alpha. What draws her to him?
Fathom is a prince, and in his culture, his job is to fight anyone who might challenge his father. Fathom’s father is very unpopular. His days are filled with endless battles, but he remains loyal and has a strong sense of right and wrong. He believes in sacrifice and courage, and he knows who he is. For someone like Lyric, who has been trained to hide her true self, he’s both foreign and attractive. It’s an intoxicating combination, and I suspect the reason she is so drawn to him is that she sees herself, or at least the side of her that she isn’t allowed to be anymore, in him. They are both fierce individuals, 'wild things' at heart, and when they are together, they’re like fire and gasoline.
What do you hope readers take away from Undertow?
I hope they get caught up in the adventure, the romance, the horror, and the thrills of the story. I want them to feel like I’ve taken them to a place they recognize, filled with things they’ve never seen before, but I’d be quietly happy if it sparked a little debate and made readers think about who they are and on what side of the fence they want to be.
From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—In his first YA novel, Buckley delivers a solidly entertaining adventure with the perfect amount of romance and danger. Lyric Walker used to be a "wild thing." At 14, she and her friends ruled the dilapidated beach community of Coney Island in Brooklyn, NY. Then one night, Lyric witnesses the arrival of the Alpha, strange creatures from the depths of the ocean, and learns a terrible secret her family has been keeping from her. Three years later, Coney Island is a police state, with the Alpha living in a containment camp on the beach, and furious protestors roam the streets. When six Alpha teenagers are forcibly integrated into the public high school, Lyric's complicated web of hidden truths threatens to unravel. In Lyric, Buckley has created a phenomenal new heroine. Smart and snarky, with rough edges and killer fashion sense, Lyric is a girl to be celebrated. Sharp political commentary and strong parallels to the treatment of minorities in the U.S. ground the world in reality, while the well-rounded and ethnically diverse supporting cast will cause readers to root for them. The climax feels a bit rushed, as revelations and plot developments quickly pile up, but the breathtaking action and cliff-hanger conclusion will leave teens desperate for more. VERDICT Give this one to fans of Suzanne Collins's "The Hunger Games" trilogy (Scholastic) searching for the next big thing.—Elisabeth Gattullo Marrocolla, Darien Library, CT
— E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
“Undertow crashes over you in waves of emotion, allowing glimpses of family and loyalty, before dragging you into the depths of human prejudice, cultural mistrust, and political corruption. Once you resurface, you'll view the world through different eyes.”
—A.G. Howard, author of the critically acclaimed Splintered Series
“Undertow will unexpectedly grab hold and pull you out into a world of epic romance and gritty suspense. A must-read tale of how love can survive under the most dangerous circumstances. It will leave you gasping for air, and for more.”
—Tonya Hurley, NYT bestselling author of the ghostgirl series and The Blessed Trilogy
“A gritty, turbulent novel as sweeping and deep as the ocean itself. UNDERTOW will pull you in and hold you down.”
—Rebecca Serle, author of When You Were Mine, and The Edge of Falling
“Lyric is a girl’s girl—as savvy as she is soulful, as sharp as she is tender. Lyric’s fierce, distinctive voice is the core magnetic force of UNDERTOW, and why we will all be stampeding for more.”
—Adele Griffin, author of All You Never Wanted and The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone
* "Sharp political commentary and strong parallels to the treatment of minorities in the U.S. ground the world in reality, while the well-rounded and ethnically diverse supporting cast will cause readers to root for them...the breathtaking action and cliff-hanger conclusion will leave teens desperate for more."
—School Library Journal, starred review
"There are some nice parallels to the civil rights movement and school integration in this novel, but the real attraction for most readers will be the romance and action, both of which are in high supply...should please readers looking supernatural romance with a bit of a twist."
"Civilization’s end is fast and furious in Michael Buckley’s Undertow. Cut your nails before reading or you will find yourself biting them off."
"Readers will find themselves immersed in this semi-edgy, race-against-the-clock world that's waiting to implode."
"Buckley packs this propulsive novel with one walloping scene after another, and there's enough action, romance, and high-stakes drama to keep a wide array of readers interested."
"Buckley draws clear parallels between the vicious anti-Alpha attitudes and existing racial and ethnic prejudices...A fascinating, engaging, and tense tale, and a strong start to the series."
"A gripping story that is convincingly told, and astute readers may spot what is almost certainly some sharp political commentary about the ways our own nation has addressed "otherness" throughout our tumultuous history."
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Top customer reviews
Unlike many other YA books I've read, this book has strong family ties with parents that are not weak minded pathetic fools that the poor teen has to suffer through. There are strong friendships as well. The main character, Lyric is complex & interesting. I immediately ordered the second book in the series before I even finished this book.
Overall, this is a great book, but it should have been one long satisfying novel vs. a series of parts of a novel.
Lyric Walker is a 16-year-old girl who used to be a wild child. She used to get herself into all kind of trouble but for the last several years she has just been lying low. She shows up to school when she is supposed too and she keeps her head down low. The last thing Lyric walker wants to do is cause any trouble.
Now it is the first day of school that everyone has been waiting for. There are protesters lining the streets because today is the day that six Alpha will join the school with the human kids. No one likes this idea, but the government is wanting to try to see what happens. Lyric goes to school like she is supposed too and well a fight breaks out in one of her classes. Instead of letting the students keep on fighting each other Lyric steps in to try to stop the fight, resulting in everyone getting into trouble.
Then the principal, Doyle, tells Lyric that she is going to help him with a special project or he will put her in lock up. Come to find out this special project is for her to meet with Fathom, the prince of the Alpha, every day to help him learn the ways of humans. Of course Lyric objected but she ended up having to do it anyway. Lyric starts teaching Fathom an even though she is reluctant about it she starts to enjoy their little visits. Everything in Coney Island is about to change and humans aren’t ready for it.
I really liked Lyric Walker’s character. Lyric used to be this extremely selfish girl and now she is obeying her parents and lying low to protect her family. She also knows when to stick up for others because it isn’t fair for them to be treated badly. A lot of people call Lyric names and she still holds her head high. She still does her assignment and she still tries to find a way to protect her family including her friends. Life isn’t easy for Lyric but she is willing to do the best that she can do.
I really liked this story because it kept me engrossed the entire time. I listened to the audio-book and I think that Jennifer Grace did a fantastic job of narrating. I think she does a great job of telling the story because she puts so much heart into the story. I love that she does voices and she makes the reader feel like they are a part of the story not just listening to it. This is the first book that I have read by Michael Buckley and I really enjoyed it. I am looking forward to reading book two of the “Undertow” trilogy.
Lyric's mother won't flee until she finds out what happened to her family. Lyric and her father won't leave without her. Lyric has learned to keep her head down and blend in. But that isn't going to work for much longer. It has been decided that some Alpha kids are going to go to Lyric's school and Lyric has been chosen to be the buddy of Fathom who is the Alpha crown prince.
Tensions are rising both inside the school and outside it. Human protesters who are being incited by radical Governor Bachman are clashing with the Alpha and anyone who is sympathetic to them. The new principal - Doyle - has a plan to defuse the tensions and blackmails Lyric with an offer of identity papers for her mother to go along with it. Lyric and Fathom get to know each other in their forced time together. Despite major cultural differences, Lyric falls for Fathom and he seems to return the feeling. But, talk about a hopeless romance, Lyric will be leaving Coney Island as soon as she can and Fathom already has an Alpha fiance.
Only plans are all derailed when Lyric learns that the Alpha on the beach are fleeing from a more terrible enemy and that enemy is on the way. Their scheduled arrival coincides with the Army's decision to force the Alpha to surrender and relocate to camps. Lyric and Fathom are beset on two sides by enemies.
This story was filled with action and had a particularly action-filled climax. I liked this one very much and can't wait for book 2 which is coming out in February.