Sea Aliens! Secrets! Coney Island! (Read this Book)

Every once in a while, NetGalley sends out these emails where the first 500 members get an eARC to READ NOW. I love these, because they are usually from publishers who are notoriously stingy with their review copies, especially to non-US reviewers. So, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, I know I’m not your favourite kind of reviewer, but this South African reviewer is very happy I got the chance to read this. Bring this book to ZA!

Now that that’s done: it’s no cliffhanger that I enjoyed this book. I’ve actually had a spate of poorly-chosen review titles (e.g. this one), so it was really nice to read a review copy that didn’t feel like WORK.

That said, when I first read the blurb (AFTER I already requested this book) I kind of went, “Oh. Shit.” Because the description focuses a whole lot on ROMANCE and if there’s one thing I don’t like, it’s when a good action book is ruined by an overload of romance.

Anyways: it’s not! (Ruined, that is.) In fact, the bulk of the romance takes place between secondary characters. The chemistry between Lyric and Fathom takes a while to develop and is not the centrepiece of the novel. The biggest downer is that there is probably going to be a love triangle in the sequel, which is not my favourite device.

The aliens have arrived, and they came from the ocean. They are not mermaids, they are warriors*. And they are camping out on the beaches of Coney Island. *Seriously though. Don’t call them mermaids. They find it highly offensive.

And they get to go to SCHOOL TOGETHER. But as civilizations are wont to do, they hate each other, so everybody is really annoyed by this decision, and protest it violently, much like when schools integrated racially way-back-when. The human children are nasty to the Alpha children, and the Alphas have to hold back not to accidentally kill them. So there’s that.

Lyric has a big secret, which is revealed pretty early on in the novel, but it MAKES the story. The first chapter (or two) felt a little on the slow side, but once the secret was revealed there was no putting it down. Once things get going they get GOING (I do so have a way with words, don’t I).

quote undertow

I loved Lyric’s family unit (parents who are still together and involved, how’s that for a rarity in YA?) and I enjoyed her best friends too.

There is some violence and dying in this book – nothing that made me teary, to be honest, but you may want to know. The action is fast-paced and the weapons are really fun.

The writing is thoroughly enjoyable. I didn’t find the characters’ voices annoying at all, which is a big plus in YA. I was quite impressed by the great female protagonist crafted by a male author. Way to go, Buckley!

So, to summarise, great things about this book:

  • sea aliens
  • snark
  • cool cover
  • a whole new civilisation to discover
  • Coney Island (I’ve never been but I’m fascinated by it)
  • relevance to its audience

undertow goodreads megz

And, I don’t really mind that it’s a series anymore. Give it to me – I’ll read it!


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