A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Undertow is a gripping, dystopian science-fiction thriller about a race of sea dwellers, the Alpha, taking up residence on the shores of Coney Island. It's the first young-adult novel by popular middle-grade writer Michael Buckley (The Sisters Grimm). There are a number of violent scenes, including a climactic battle against a horde of undersea foes. One of Lyric's best friends is killed. Lyric intends to have sex with her boyfriend but changes her mind when he treats her badly. She shares a steamy embrace with Fathom. Bex's stepfather gets drunk and assaults her mother. "Hell" and "damn" are each used less than a dozen times.
What's the story?
When the sea-dwelling Alpha arrived on the shores of Coney Island, they forever changed the course of Lyric Walker's life. She's forced to cut herself off from strangers and finds herself at odds with her family and her best friend. Much of the human race views the Alpha as an invading force, but when politics force Lyric's high school to accept them as students, she reluctantly has to help protect them. Before she quite knows what's happening, she's paired with Fathom, the Alpha crown prince. Lyric and Fathom must learn to trust each other, especially when they learn that an even greater danger is headed their way.
Is it any good?
When denizens of the deep arrive on the shores of New York, it's an opportunity for an unusual and gripping alien invasion tale. Comparisons to current conflicts about immigration are a tad heavy-handed, yet the atmosphere of suspicion and desperation gives the scenario some extra narrative power. Even though Lyric, her family, and her best friend Bex are portrayed as three-dimensional characters, they're still capable of surprising the reader with their hidden strengths and weaknesses.
Lyric's star-crossed romance with Fathom may be somewhat predictable, but their scenes together do add spark to the proceedings. All in all, UNDERTOW is a promising series start, and its climax promises more romantic adventure to come.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about immigration policies around the globe. How are refugees treated when they arrive in a host country?
How can politicians use the media to manipulate public opinion? How are they able to present falsehoods as truth?
Should people from different cultures be separated from one another for their own good?
- Author: Michael Buckley
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Ocean Creatures
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: May 5, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 384
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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