Raging Sea, by Michael Buckley

The horror in Michael Buckley's Undertow trilogy is largely evoked via ghastly migrant camps, bigoted politicians, and intense racism. These books should have been deliciously pulpy YA sci-fi/fantasy, but considering the current political climate, large portions of them feel uncomfortably realistic.

In the first book of this series, Undertow, Coney Island is the site of an invasion: thousands of humanoid sea-creatures known as the Alpha simply walk out of the ocean one day. In Raging Sea, half-human, half-Alpha Lyric Walker is on a quest to rescue her parents, both of whom have been imprisoned in a quasi-military camp in Texas. Lyric is accompanied by her best friend Bex, who is desperate to learn what happened to her mother back on Coney Island, and Arcade, an Alpha girl engaged since childhood to the Alpha's crown prince, Fathom. Complicating their journey is Lyric's massive crush on Fathom, Bex and Arcade's inability to understand one another, and the fact that all three girls are believed to be terrorists, making them the focus of a nationwide manhunt.

The biggest problem with Raging Sea is its romantic plotline, which is soggy and overwrought. Lyric and Fathom are apparently wildly in love, despite only knowing each other for a few weeks—most of which he spent engaged to another girl, and all of which they both spent neck-deep in danger. Lyric's obsession with Fathom is by far my least favorite thing about her; even thinking about him changes her from a brave, clever, resourceful young woman into a lovesick drip.

Thankfully, Fathom doesn't even turn up in Raging Sea until the halfway mark (and Lyric spends a large portion of the second half of the book mad at him), so the lion's share of this book is focused on the things Buckley does really, really well: Lyric's determined quest to rescue her friends and family, her strained relationship with Bex, and the grim politics of this new world. As with most middle installments, readers shouldn't expect many conclusive answers, but there's more than enough action, sci-fi, and character growth in this book to ensure that Buckley's fans will feel they got their money's worth.
Posted by: Julianka


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