Wednesday, May 29, 2013

ARC Review: Undercurrent by Paul E. Blackwell

A shadowy figure. An intense roar. The sensation of falling—fast.
That's all Callum Harris remembers from his tumble over the waterfall. But when he wakes up in a hospital bed and finds his best friend trying to kill him, Callum knows something is seriously wrong. Unfortunately for him, the mysteries are just getting started.
Why are his parents acting like he's some big sports star all of a sudden? And why are all the buildings in town more run-down than Callum remembers? Worst of all . . . what happened to Callum's brother? Either Callum has gone seriously crazy or something happened when he went over the edge of the falls. Something impossible. Callum needs answers, and now. Because in this twisted new version of the life Callum knew, his former best friend isn't the only one who wants to see him dead.
*summary from HarperCollins*

*Admit turned your head sideways to look at the cover, didn't you??*

You know what sucked me in on this book? This blurb:
Tense and original, Undercurrent is a psychological thrill-ride with sci-fi elements that will appeal to fans of Neil Gaiman and Neal Shusterman.

Neil Gaiman/Neal Shusterman fan, reporting for duty!

The description "psychological thriller" also got me interested. I had a good experience with another book labeled this way (Insomnia by JR Johansson) so I had high hopes...

And for the most part, they were met. I read the book in one sitting, because I didn't want to put it down. The pacing was fast, and the writing felt authentic for a teenage boy.

Callum was a sympathetic lead, although there were times I felt like he was being a wee bit blind to some pretty obvious stuff that was going on. He has some troubling things happen to him, and watching him try to decide if he's crazy or not was fascinating. It makes you wonder, "What would I do if my once familiar life was altered in small but significant ways?"  People who were once his friends now seem afraid of him. Kids from school who never gave him the time of day act like they're best friends. He's kept off balance all the time, and so is the reader.

There are some pretty thought-provoking questions facing Callum, and I wish they had been covered in a little more depth, instead of just hinted at. Do the things that happen to us turn us down a dark path, or is the darkness already inside, waiting for a chance to come out? Is it a combination of both?

I figured out the big mystery well before Callum did, but that's fine. Most of the fun was following his journey to the same conclusions. (Part of the reason I figured things out was from skimming a review where just one key word  tipped me off. So I'm determined to keep this review spoiler free. :)

I enjoyed Undercurrent, but the ending wasn't entirely satisfying. I've read that the book was written as a standalone that could lead to a sequel. It really, really needs a sequel!! Because the fall-out from the last scene would be massive. In a LOT of ways. I worried about where the ending will leave certain characters that I'd come to care about. Hopefully, Paul Blackwell will get the green light for another book. There is much more of Callum's story to be told!

Profanity: quite a bit, would get an R-rating if it were a movie, I think. I prefer not to read books with lots of cursing, so I like to include this info in case other readers feel the same.
Sexual content: Kissing, reference to a party where characters made out in a closet as part of a game.
Violence: There were some pretty violent scenes, including a murder.

**Digital Review Copy provided by Edelweiss and publisher. Thank you!**

1 comment:

  1. I'm intrigued by the premise! Although I don't like knowing things the main character doesn't, so I'd probably be frustrated reading this. Great review! It made me realize I don't read enough books with male protags...


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