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Undertow

Review

Undertow

All her life, Lyric Walker has lived on Coney Island. She’s slept on its beaches, partied in the summers and visited the fairs. Lyric has also experienced the ugly side of Coney Island: the gangs and drug deals, the abuse and neglect. But she never expected to see a new race walk out of the water and onto one of Coney Island’s beaches. All she knows now is that her life will never go back to the way it was.
 
Suddenly, Coney Island is transformed as the entire world takes notice of the Alpha: a race of ocean-dwelling people who can be violent and dangerous. Protestors take to the streets, shouting and rebelling against allowing this new race to stay on the island. Lyric and her family struggle to stay out of the conflict as much as possible, but then a group of Alpha kids are sent to Lyric’s school. Forced to help the Alpha prince, Fathom, adjust to life on Coney Island, Lyric has to be careful. Riots are breaking out all across the island and not even school is safe for the Alpha --- or for anyone who associates with them. But as Lyric begins to get to know Fathom and his kind, she begins to question whether the Alpha are truly the most dangerous species in the ocean…or if something even bigger is coming.
 
In conclusion, Michael Buckley’s UNDERTOW hits home on multiple societal issues that are prevalent in today’s society. Combined with strong characters and a unique storyline, UNDERTOW will appeal to many young adult readers. 
 
UNDERTOW by Michael Buckley has strong characters, an interesting plot and an incredibly realistic world. Lyric is loyal and struggles to stay under the radar as her world goes wild. Her character does leave a little to be desired --- she comes across as rather bland, especially compared to her vibrant, energetic and snarky friend, Bex. But Bex and Lyric’s relationship makes up for any shortcomings in the characters; it is clear that the two girls would do anything for each other, and their friendship only strengthens as the situation grows more dire. Fathom, the prince of the Alpha, is a complex character that struggles between his upbringing and what he is learning on Coney Island.
 
The idea of having a new race come to Coney Island is very interesting and Michael Buckley executes it incredibly well. The Alpha never come across as too cartoonish or unrealistic. In essence, they are people just like us, a fact that makes it easier for readers to envision the situation in this novel. Additionally, Michael Buckley did a brilliant job of displaying various social issues. In UNDERTOW, he presents abuse, neglect, gangs, drugs and racism in an honest and incredibly realistic way. The issues do not feel forced into the story at all and add a new depth to UNDERTOW.  
 
In conclusion, Michael Buckley’s UNDERTOW hits home on multiple societal issues that are prevalent in today’s society. Combined with strong characters and a unique storyline, UNDERTOW will appeal to many young adult readers. 

Reviewed by Kate F. on May 11, 2015

Undertow
(The Undertow Trilogy #1)
by Michael Buckley