Undertow by Michael Buckley
Published 2015, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group
Kind thanks to Netgalley for providing a copy of this for review purposes. It was much appreciated!
I sink down farther, completely submerging myself. It's down here where I feel the most safe, where the headaches retreat, where the roar of the water drowns out the thrum.
Lyric Walker is different. She hasn't always known, but she knows now. Her family lives in the Coney Island "Zone"... a place cut off from the rest of the country because of a big event... yeah, not a war... not a bomb... not a chemical spill... but an INVASION.
I open the first book in the stack on my lap. It's called Caps for Sale. This was one of my favorites when I was small. (me too!!!)
You see, there are other races on our planet. And they came from the sea, covered in scales, in slime, in ooze, in shells, in claws. Now the ones that are here are sharing the Zone with the humans who lived there already.
Suddenly, I am unleashed. I am energy... I let loose everything I've been holding back for three long years.
But not all of the humans are willing to share. Lyric, her family, and her friends are caught in the middle. And a tidal wave of crazy is about to hit the shores and change Lyric's life, and the lives of everyone she cares about, forever.
No more hiding. No more keeping my head down. I am Lyric Walker... I am a wild thing.
YA books are usually hit or miss for me, but this one hit the mark... dead center! It's got a really cool concept -- merpeople of all shapes and sizes, rising out of the sea and having to deal with the humans. It's got a potty-mouthed, flawed, strong yet vulnerable main character, a great bestie, a fun "guy friend" trope, and a lot of action. Seriously, it's a fast read - a speed boat read in a genre full of paddle boats and canoes.
My favorite part: The Snark. I love when authors and their characters have a bad case of The Snark. I am just a fan in general of snarkiness. Sure, it can be annoying at times -- when it's directed at you -- but I love it anyways!
Some examples of the snarky writing style:
He's also got on running shorts that have never been used for their intended purpose. If anything, they should be called "sitting around leering at teenage girl" shorts, or "practicing being a sociopath" shorts.
The old woman's face puckers, and she sticks out her tongue to lick her lips. I swear it was green. I bet it's forked. I bet she can smell with it.
It's called a selfie. It's what people who are in love with themselves do to keep themselves busy. You can't really be an American teenager if you aren't willing to take one of these a couple dozen times a day.
I can't help it. A stream of curse words sprays all over him. I unload every frustration and bad thought I have ever had about him, multiply them by a thousand, and top them with colorful metaphors and emasculating insults. To put a period on it, I pull back and smack him right in the face.
Overall, I highly enjoyed this book. My only gripe is the stereotypical teenage love story, which is done better than many -- I mean, there are obstacles that actually make sense in this one. It just felt a little bit too much like almost-insta-love, and the character of Fathom just isn't fleshed out enough to make him as lovable as Lyric, Bex, or Shadow. Four out of five stars.