Thursday, July 25, 2013

Mini Review: Undercurrent

UndercurrentAuthor: Paul Blackwell
Series: Unknown
Release date: July 23rd 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Hardcover, 320 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository

In Undercurrent, Paul Blackwell’s fast-paced YA thriller, sixteen-year-old Callum Harris survives a plummet over a waterfall, but wakes to find himself in a life that’s totally different from the one he knew.
His parents were separated. Now they’re together. His brother Cole was a sports star. Now he’s paralyzed. And Callum, who used to be quiet and sort of unpopular, is suddenly a jock with two hot girls after him.
But there’s one difference that matters more than all the others combined: His former best friend wants Callum dead. And he isn’t the only one.
Tense and original, Undercurrent is a psychological thrill-ride with sci-fi elements that will appeal to fans of Neil Gaiman and Neal Shusterman.

How is it that every good idea gets ruined all to hell these days? The idea behind Undercurrent wasn’t perhaps the most original but it was brilliant and it had so much potential. And yet the final result, the first-page-to-last-page experience, is as underwhelming and confusing as they come.

It all started promisingly, with Callum waking up in a hospital after an accident at the waterfall, confused, disoriented and desperate for answers. Instead of giving him some, his best friend tries to smother him with a pillow, and that’s only the first in a long series of events that simply refuse to make sense. Nothing is as it should be, including Callum himself. People consider him a bully and fear him, but he remembers being hardworking and quiet and kind.

There is clearly something wrong in this Callum-against-the-world scenario, but Callum just can’t figure out whether the world has gone completely insane, or his head trauma was even worse than they thought. Either way, I knew the answer pretty quickly, but Callum was far, far behind. I can’t imagine a single thing worse than guessing the mystery on page 20 and then spending the remaining 300 pages waiting for the main character to catch up. It’s a mind-numbingly boring experience and one I don’t care to repeat anytime soon.

In addition, my enjoyment of any particular book is largely dependent on the romance, and unfortunately, romance was not a point in favor of Undercurrent. It was barely there, for one thing, and what’s even worse, it was left almost entirely unresolved.

If there is one good thing I can point out about Undercurrent, it’s Blackwell’s writing itself. He has a way of gluing readers to their seats and making them wait, wide-eyed and anxious, while he builds the story slowly and thoroughly. If only he’d offered some answers in the end, he and I would have been the best of friends instead of just casual acquaintances. Talk of the sequel would have made me feel slightly better at the time if Undercurrent gave me any desire to read it. As it is, I’m left with no answers, no ending, and no interest in getting them whatsoever.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to put my snark back in the drawer where it belongs.


  1. For some reason I've not ever been drawn to this one. I think it's the cover but not thinking I'll be reading this one Thank you for the honest review.

    My Friends Are Fiction

  2. This type of cover seem to be popular these days. I have seen this book around but from the blurb it sounds interesting. Well I can see that it only sounds that way. It's a shame really when such a great ideas end up that way. I'm sorry it disappointed. Great review Maja :)

  3. Hey, I keep my snark in a drawer, too! Easily found, easily stored.Ooh, figuring out the mystery straight off is NOT good! At least the writing style kept the pace moving forward, even though the story as a whole didn't work for you.

  4. Oh dear, this sounds like a train wreck. I hate figuring everything out before the MC - happened to me in Cinder and ruined the story for me - and add to that a complete lack of closure and I can't imagine the disappointment at the end of this one. It isn't my kind of read at all, so I'll definitely be skipping out on this. Hopefully the author will put his writing talent to good use in a better constructed novel in the future. Thanks for the honest review, Maja. Also, let's just admit we all love seeing the snark out of the drawer! ;)

    1. Oh, I don't know, hon. I can be pretty mean if left unsupervised.

  5. Oh no! I'm sorry this didn't work out for you, Maja, but I can see why you were frustrated with it. It annoys me to when I figure out the mystery early on and I have to wait for the MC to catch up. I think it's the case with most YA mystery/thriller books. It's a shame though because the book sounds like it has potential. Plus, the romance doesn't sound that great either. I trust your judgement, so I'm going to stay away from this!
    Fabulous review, Maja! Hopefully, your next book is awesome! :)

  6. "In addition, my enjoyment of any particular book is largely dependent on the romance, and unfortunately, romance was not a point in favor of Undercurrent. It was barely there, for one thing, and what’s even worse, it was left almost entirely unresolved."

    Well shoot Maja! You know the same is true for me, so I'm really disappointed in this one. I had really high hopes for it with the male POV and all, but I need the romance, if there's going to be one, to be really strong and full of tension. And get resolved! I don't like things left open, I need answers and resolution:) Fabulous review as always though, I'm going to take a pass on this book.

  7. I remember debating whether or not I should snag a copy of this and am glad I passed. You're right, this premise has been done, but it does have the potential to be awesome. Too bad this one wasn't. There really is nothing more frustrating than figuring out a mystery super early on. I just had a book like that myself. Oh, well. Great review!

  8. BUMMMER! I read the summary and was riveted.

    Figuring things out that early on and waiting for the character to do the same is probably one of life's worse reading experiences.

    Unresolved plot threads has got to be a close second.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

  9. I just read another review that was very similar to yours. It definitely sounds like a book that would frustrate me and it had just sounded so promising by the description! That's too bad it didn't work out so well though.

  10. Oh no! Darn I loved the premises, you are right it held such promise. What a disappointment!

  11. Well, Maja, this is disappointing
    This book looked really good from the blurb but now that I know, well, I might read it anyway
    But I probably won't
    Your reader,

  12. Christy had some of the same reactions. I was supposed to review this last Monday and I just didnt' feel compelled to read it. Now after yours and Christy's and Jenny's reviews today I am going to skip making a new casual acquaintance with Mr, Blackwell and company!

  13. Oh I think that would bother me as well. Knowing so early and being so frustrated. I think I may try to find another book by the author since you like his writing otherwise, but no to this book for me. Brilly review and you can keep the snark out at all times for me. :D

  14. Just...I can't even say how much this frustrates me. The concept for this is amazing, but to have absolutely no closure is just unbearable. Not to mention sitting there for most of the book just waiting for the MC to catch up. Sorry you had such a bad experience with this, Maja, but thanks for the honest review!

  15. Word. This one is on my blog today too. It was so painfully predictable from the beginning. -sigh- On to the next book. ;)

  16. I give you so much credit for finishing this and 100 pages I threw the book. I didn't care about the characters and it sounded like such a great concept gah! Great review Maja!

  17. Oh no, I don't think I could handle such a frustrating lack of answers, no matter how skillful the writing is and how captivated I was by the story. I don't like the sound of the unresolved romance either. I wasn't planning on reading this, and now I feel much better about that decision. Thanks for your honest review Maja! :-)

  18. Ugh. Sorry to hear the execution wasn't well done and it was confusing

  19. It sounds like the writing is good, but it's really frustrating when I get to the end of a book and the answers are weak or not there at all. The concept did sound interesting, but it sounds like it wasn't excited well. And the romance factor is another negative point. Great review, Maja!

  20. Aw, bummer! It does have an intriguing premise...mainly with the bestie wanting to kill him. The rest sounds similar enough to other titles. At any rate, I'm sorry it wasn't as mysterious as it could have been.

  21. This doesn't seem like a book I would particularly enjoy. It's a shame that the plot and romance disappointed and were just left hanging there. At least the writing was good! I think I'll skip out on this book. Thanks for the honest review, Maja!

  22. I hate it when you feel the character just couldn't be that dense not to pick up on the mystery you solved in like 3 seconds! Extremely frustrating. I have a copy of this, but I doubt I'll pick it up any time soon. Great honest review, Maja. :)

  23. I can get so easily frustrated with characters when they don't work things out at a quicker or the same pace to me. Predictable storylines can completely destroy a book for me, and I have no desire to pick this up anytime soon now. Sorry it didn't work for you, but I have to admit, I like seeing your snarky side. ;)

  24. Wow, you guessed the mystery at page 20 and continued reading, Maja?! Lol, I would have flipped right to the back to see if I was right and then moved on to another book. I'll probably skip this one if it's so predictable. Hope your next read is better!

  25. GAHHH.....don't you just hate it when a perfect amazing idea goes to waste!!?? I really like the sound of the premise for this one, but I am so disappointed that it is confusing at best. And predictability, especially in a mystery novel, is something annoying as much as it is frustrating. I totally understand why you couldn't connect with the story or the main character. I don't think I'll be picking this up. Sorry it didn't work out for you!

    Great review, Maja! :D

    ~ Maida
    Literary Love Affair 

  26. I can't wait to read the last book. Great mermaid story. Once I start reading I can't put the book down.

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