I received this book for free from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Undercurrent by Paul Blackwell
Published by Doubleday Canada on July 23rd 2013
Genres: Sci-Fi, Thriller, YA
Source: Random House of Canada
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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.
When I heard someone say this was reminiscent of The Butterfly Effect, which is one of my favorite movies ever, I jumped on the chance to read this book. It does have that neat butterfly effect factor, but I did find the book itself had no real… point. It’s for entertainment only! When I finished the book I was stunned at where it left off, especially when no sign of a sequel can be found. It wasn’t a cliffhanger per se, but it was a very odd ending that didn’t feel like much of a conclusion.
Alas, I’m getting ahead of myself. And probably giving the impression that I disliked the book which is not the case. Undercurrent is honestly a fun, entertaining book that never let my attention falter. The whole alternate life deal had me fascinated from the start. You’re always left wondering, questioning, pondering. Imagine waking up from an accident and your whole life has changed! Your friends are your enemies, your enemies are your friends, the friendly person you were is now known as a bully. I was captivated by this premise. I loved seeing Callum’s reaction to all the changes; he was fighting hard to mend the wrongs while refusing to believe his memory of everything was false. It was both sad and exciting to see him try to figure it all out. Some things were changed for what people would consider “the better” seeing as he was now a popular jock with everyone hanging at his every word (or threat), but a lot of other things, the things that matter, were definitely not better. The girl he loves doesn’t know him, his brother is paralyzed, and people hate him for the trouble maker he is. There is a reason why I love psychological thrillers and while this is more of a sci-fi thriller, you do find yourself wondering what if. What if you had made a different decision that one time? How much would be different if you hadn’t…? These are just things I personally get so curious and intrigued about, so I had a fun time with this book.
With such a neat premise, though, I wish it would have been more intricate in a lot of ways. The main character, even though he was well developed enough, was a little slow to figure things out at times. I had guessed almost right away who the guy in the Crocodile’s jacket was. I was also hoping for much more progress as far as the plot itself. The whole book consists of Callum figuring out why everything is so different. We don’t learn much about the actual “science” or world building behind it – what’s so special about the Crystal Falls to make it tear realities? How do others (like the teacher) know about the alternate existence? I mean, we all kind of wonder but we don’t see people jump off cliffs to test the theory off of hope. And what did he throw off of that waterfall with a light? A machine to send a message to another reality, yeah, but what is it? O_o Why was Cal brought to this particular reality (and there was only mention of that 1 other reality)? If you’re going to introduce alternate realities based on the butterfly effect then there has to be countless realities for every single decision made in a life, no? Then when all is said and done we never do learn any details on what happened in Cal’s old reality, nor what’s going to happen to him and his other self, now? And why was the whole bit about Neil even included? SO MANY QUESTIONS!! Basically, this plot was done for those who like the idea but don’t want to really think about it much. I’m not one of those readers.
Undercurrent offers an intriguing but simple view into the world of alternate realities. It’s always fun to see how different things would be with only one changed decision. I wish the book would have been more fleshed out, but it was an entertaining read, nonetheless.
Edit: The author did tell me there was a sequel in the works that’s waiting on the green light. So that does help lessen some of my dissatisfaction regarding the unanswered questions. Yay!
3 Hot Espressos
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Ooh, I’m very intrigued by this book now. While I would like a better developed world and less questions going off in my head- the idea is seeming promising and I am in deep need for a fun book right now.
Fantastic review, Giselle! <33
I have this one for review and am looking forward to getting to it. I’m glad knowing that there’s no real point going into it though. That way I’m not looking for something more that’s not there. Great review chick!!
I have this for review too and I have to say I’m a little wary about starting it now that I’ve read your review. I’m not a huge fan of books that leave you with million of questions, especially it’s not even sure whether the 2nd book will be released or not at this point. It does sound highly entertaining though, so I’ll definitely give it a shot.
Lovely review, Giselle!
Great review. I have this one, and at least I know that at the end what to expect with things left unanswered. It does sounds good too. 🙂
Jenea @ Books Live Forever
This looks like a good read
But a little two dimensional, i guess
I punished my review of All Our Pretty Songs, if you wanna check it out
Jenni @ Alluring Reads
I’m happy to see that knowing that there is going to be a sequel made you feel a bit better about it. I am happy that I now get to go into it already knowing that. I love it when you’re the guinea pig! 🙂
This one sounds really cool. Thanks for the awesome review!
Despite issues I am glad you enjoyed this, I read about 100 pages and stopped. I never really connected with the MC. Great review Giselle:)
Sounds awesome! I hope that there is a sequel 🙂
Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed
Although this isn’t really my genre, I do enjoy these books every once in a while (when it’s done right). I hate endings that are not really endings.
That guy reminds me of Jaime Campbell Bower…
I feel like if I read this book, I will have entirely too many questions in mind once I finish. This is potentially a good thing and a bad thing. However, your review did leave me intrigued… so we’ll have to see 🙂
All you had to say was that you heard it was reminiscent of The Butterfly Effect and that alone makes me want to read it. Even though it apparently didn’t commit to it totally,it still sounds like a fascinating read.
It does sound good and I’m glad that it entertained you to some extent, however, I hate it when you have like million questions (with some exceptions — mainly The Evolution of Mara Dyer LOL). I just NEED to know everything there is to know. LOL. Thanks for the review hon!
Henrietta @ Leisure Reads
This sounds really entertaining – I’ll have to see if the library carries it. Thanks for sharing.
Well that’s a bummer that we don’t learn about the science. I feel like I really need to know the science backstory with books like this.
Hopefully the sequel pulls through!
I already have this on my TBR and this seems like a fun book. Though I’m quite a bit OCD about how/why this and this happened and whatnot, I think I’ll still enjoy this! Amazing review, Giselle 🙂
-Ariella @ Secrets of Lost Words
“When I heard someone say this was reminiscent of The Butterfly Effect, which is one of my favorite movies ever, I jumped on the chance to read this book.”
I never really know what to make of books that are compared to movies I love. It seems more often than not, the book disappoints me because I’ve set up different expectations for it b/c of that comparison.
“There is a reason why I love psychological thrillers and while this is more of a sci-fi thriller, you do find yourself wondering what if. What if you had made a different decision that one time? How much would be different if you hadn’t…?”
What if questions are the fuel of some of the best stories out there. 🙂
“We don’t learn much about the actual “science” or world building behind it”
🙁 This is my problem with most of the science fiction I see in YA.
“SO MANY QUESTIONS!! Basically, this plot was done for those who like the idea but don’t want to really think about it much. I’m not one of those readers.”
Me neither, even if the book is entertaining and the sequel has answers… there still needs to be enough that you’re not left with too many questions. Although, I may keep my eye on this one for the sequel – I’d never even heard of it until now.
I want to give this one a try, but I’m worried about the world-building leaving me with too many questions.
This one sounds really great, but I’m kind of disappointed it was only an “okay” read for you. Even though I have yet to read an ending that makes me want to tear my hair to shreds (I’ve been lucky), I’m afraid I might end up hating this book because of its open ending. AND NOOOO. What happened to science-fiction with great world building?! I’m not sure I want to try this anymore, even if there is a sequel.
Geez! That’s a lot of questions you got there! I just started reading this and it’s interesting but I’m having a hard time connecting with Cal with everything being so confusing. Hopefully it gets better and I enjoy it more. Awesome review!
I’m interested in this premise, but I like interesting premises to come with depth and I like my questions answered, so I might not read this one. Great review!