Author: Paul Blackwell
Release date: July 23rd 2013
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.