Undertow is a book for fans of the movie District 9 and Rick Yancy’s The Fifth Wave. The oppressed in Undertow are from the sea, and they have some rather terrifying traditions and mutations. In the time honored method of ridding ourselves of things that are different, humans have segregated them and protested them and studied them in secret labs. Like most science fiction, this book’s themes touch on the hot topics relevant to our current society – the treatment of illegal aliens and foreign refugees. While I found the pace to be slooow, I think that many YA readers will still be interested, and it rated very highly among other reviewers. Undertow publishes on May 5, 2015.
Lyric’s family has been laying low since the Alpha, a race of water beings, invaded and encamped on the Jersey Shore three years ago. The only way out of the zone is three forms of identification, something Lyric’s mother doesn’t have. When the government decides to integrate Lyric’s school, tensions run high and Lyric finds herself in the middle of a war fueled by prejudice, fear, and hate. While this book ultimately had a satisfactory ending, there were times when it felt like it would never resolve. Most readers will accept the pacing as a necessary evil for developing a believable romantic relationship, but the plot did feel like a hamster wheel at times. Lyric is a smart and spunky girl but she is forced to hide her personality. She willingly sacrifices for those she loves, but it takes a toll on her. Readers will connect with her, and share her frustration with her impossible choices. Themes are relevant to current social issues, but are presented with too heavy a hand. You are definitely not going to miss the point here. I found the romantic interest creepy, so I didn’t buy it, but I’m old and have no sense of romance anymore, so. Undertow reminded me of District 9, especially the despair I felt as humans begin to lose their humanity in the face of fear.
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.