Review: Undercurrent by Paul E. Blackwell

July 5, 2013 Book Review, butterfly effect, Edelweiss, HarperTeen, Paul E. Blackwell, Thriller, Undercurrent, YA, Young Adult 31

Publication Date: July 23rd 2013

From Goodreads:

In this suspenseful teen thriller with a touch of the otherworldly, perfect for fans of Neal Shusterman, a boy goes over a waterfall and wakes up to find himself in a twisted version of the life he knew.

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.

Filled with mind-bending suspense and unsettling thrills, Undercurrent is a grippingly paced teen debut that will pull you under and never let go.

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Parallel worlds/lives seem to be huge right now in the YA world and I just so happen to love this new trend. Undercurrent  fits right in with a butterfly effect vibe, about a boy who wakes up to a life so confusing and different than what he knew.

We start out by meeting our main character as he wakes up in a hospital. Things all appear to be extremely confusing for him. People who he was not involved with before suddenly seem to be a part of his life, like he was someone else – Police are questioning him on the whereabouts of people he doesn’t know. A nurse he never met wishes him dead. A friend tries to suffocate him with a pillow. Oh, and an out-of-his-league girl from school who has never given him the time of day suddenly comes sneaking into his room, acting like a girlfriend… things he can’t explain.So seriously, what is going on? Well that is what we are trying to find out throughout the novel.

The first section of the book felt like we were just following along with our main character, Callum, as he discovers all of the changes in his life and surroundings. This was okay for a bit, but then it started to drag and drag. I mean, I can only stand so much of a character noticing missing buildings, the appearance of trophies and even their underwear being different before I crave some action, you know? It started to get quite redundant. And I was confused as to why Callum was still seemingly surprised when something was different like halfway through the novel. A million changed things were already piled up, move on and get to solving!

Callum was… an okay character. A little dense at times (see the paragraph above), and sort of a pushover (dude, I can relate) but I found his voice to be quite accurate for the boy he was portraying. I truly, truly feel what was missing here was that there was no one for Cal to talk to. Usually novels have a friend or someone on the main character’s side, someone to talk things through with. Cal had no one, which left a lot of the story to take place with just him and in his head. I think the book suffered without that added extra to allow Cal to connect with others, and therefore us with him. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely secondary characters floating about, both within the flashbacks and in real time, but nothing substantial.

The book picks up right at the end as Callum finally starts to put pieces together on what has happened to him and takes action. I was able to figure some things out before that but it didn’t bother me and I was anxious to get the whole story and the mystery solved. I must admit I found myself quite surprised at certain events that took place. The ending is one that left me equal parts impressed as well as upset because it is quite the cliffhanger, making me hope a sequel is in the works. But as thrillers go, this was not as thrilling and exciting as I hoped for on a whole, but still a good read.

Sara @ Forever 17 Books

31 Responses to “Review: Undercurrent by Paul E. Blackwell”

  1. Leigh @ Little Book Star

    OMG Paul Blackwell! Lol I’m just surprised cause he followed me on Twitter xD anyways, hmmm idk about this one because I hate books that drags on and suddenly BOOM, he starts realizing what is happening towards the END of the novel.. why can’t the BOOM part happen during the middle of the book..? This sounds like it has a slow pacing which I hate in books :/ .. this one will probably be a “maybe” read. Thanks for the review!

    Little Book Star

  2. Tanja - Tanychy

    You’re right! Parallel Worlds seem to be a huge hit right now. Needless to say I still haven’t read any but I’m also sure that I won’t start with this one. I’m not in the mood for books that drag too much. Great review Sara 🙂

  3. Rachel

    This sounds like an intriguing read and I’m happy to hear there were some surprises for you. I like it when a book manages to surprise me. It is disappointing when a character seems too dense. I feel it makes the story less believable. Great review, Sara. Nice to see you mostly enjoyed this. 🙂

  4. Jasmine @ Flip That Page

    This is intriguing! I don’t try out a lot of books with guy perspectives, except for companion novels, though the story behind this one sounds really interesting! It’s probably due to me wanting an explanation for all the mysterious things that went on around him when he woke up, but mostly it’s because I think this is a title with potential. I’m not all too bothered by dense characters, especially when they’re obviously alone and struggling. I think one day I can give this one a try 🙂

  5. Lea (YA Book Queen)

    I felt like this book had so much potential, but it didn’t seem quite done. Agreed about Callum being an okay character.

    “I truly, truly feel what was missing here was that there was no one for Cal to talk to.” – YES. That would have made the story (and Callum’s character) much stronger.

    Nice review!

  6. Lindy Gomez

    While this book sounded good based on the synopsis, I’m not going to read it based off of your review. I love the parallel theme. Too bad this book dragged, was redundant, and lacking in both character connections, and action! Great Review Sara! Thanks for being host, and sharing your thoughts on this one!

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

  7. starryeyedjen

    Ah, I remember that this was one of your WoW picks…and that was one of the reasons I added it to my TBR. Sorry it didn’t live up to its potential. I’m big on the parallel worlds/timelines trend, too, but I guess they can’t all be great. 🙁

  8. Lauren Elizabeth

    I think this one might drive me bonkers. I hate when stories drag, and Callum doesn’t sound like the sharpest knife in the drawer. Love this -> “A million changed things were already piled up, move on and get to solving!” 😀 I think I’ll hold out for a better parallel universe book, there are certainly enough of them lately to choose from. Awesome review, thanks for your honesty!

  9. Neysa Kristanti

    Yep, totally agree with you, all this parallel concept seems pretty ‘in’ lately, and I actually kinda love it, you know, novel that can make you think? 😀
    I was expecting this one to be suspenseful and full of action and all, though. Maybe I’ll put this one lower on my TBR, but thanks for sharing!

    Neysa @ [B.O.O.K.L.I.F.E]

  10. Rachel Edmundson

    I still haven’t had the chance to read any of the new books about parallel worlds, and I’m worried that I will be super confused when I finally do! I’ve heard Pivot Point does the whole parallel worlds thing really well. Anyway, I still want to read this one, but I have no idea when I will get to it…my TBR list just gets longer and longer every day!

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