18 July 2013

Review: Undercurrent by Paul Blackwell

Undercurrent by Paul Blackwell

Expected Publication: 23 July 2013 by HarperTeen

Pages: 320 (hardback)

Genre/s: YA, Mystery, Thriller

Source: Publisher for review


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 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.

My Thoughts

Imagine waking up one day and everything you thought was your life was suddenly different.  Your friends are no longer your friends, and it seems that you are not even the person you thought you were.  This is exactly what happens to Callum in Undercurrent, and when I read the synopsis I was immediately intrigued.

Callum is a pretty average teenage boy - he hates sports, has a close group of friends that aren't the most popular kids in school but aren't particularly picked on, and does OK in school.  His older brother, Cole, is the all round sports star with a few skeletons in his closest, and their parents have recently split up.  Callum isn't a particularly memorable character for his personality, but his situation is certainly unique.

The first thing that really stood out for me about Undercurrent was, that despite there being some female characters, there's not really any romance in this book, which is unusual for a YA novel.  Instead, the focus is much more on the mystery surrounding Callum's life and his journey to try and uncover exactly who he is, and how his life could suddenly be so very different than what he remembers.

The overall tone is dark and mysterious, and there were quite a few twists that although I could sense they were coming, I rarely managed to guess what they were before they happened, and that made Undercurrent incredibly readable.  The reactions of the people around him were so unpredictable to Callum and me as a reader that I had to keep coming back for more as Callum gradually uncovered exactly what was happening around him.

There is a smattering of internal dialogue which I did start to find a bit unnecessary and slightly irritating by the end of the book, but not enough that it ruined the book, I personally just couldn't see the point and it felt a little bit awkward.

Undercurrent's ending does feel slightly rushed, and there are a few points that didn't feel completely resolved, and although I didn't really need a lot more explanation, I can see where others may feel that it was a bit too neat and easy.  In saying that however, the climax is pretty terrifying and chilling, and I was left feeling pretty satisfied overall.

If you enjoy mysteries, I can definitely recommend Undercurrent.


  1. That's nice to hear that there isn't any romance for once. I mean I don't mind it really but sometimes I find it refreshing when there isn't any.

  2. I love the premise - it's very intriguing! - and I too love that there's no romance. I don't understand why so much YA has so much romance in it! I mean, I love romance too, but sometimes a story is stronger when you let kids be kids and the story plays out in other ways.



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