Published by Text Publishing on July 31st 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia
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Eighteen-year-old Julianne De Marchi is different. As in: she has an electrical undercurrent beneath her skin that stings and surges like a live wire. She can use it—to spark a fire, maybe even end a life—but she doesn’t understand what it is. And she can barely control it, especially when she’s anxious.
Ryan Walsh was on track for a stellar football career when his knee blew out. Now he’s a soldier—part of an experimental privatised military unit that has identified Jules De Marchi as a threat. Is it because of the weird undercurrent she’s tried so hard to hide? Or because of her mother Angie’s history as an activist against bio-engineering and big business?
It’s no coincidence that Ryan and Jules are in the same place at the same time—he’s under orders to follow her, after all. But then an explosive attack on a city building by an unknown enemy throws them together in the most violent and unexpected way.
Paula Weston, author of the much-admired Rephaim series, returns with a standalone work: a futuristic thriller that is only slightly futuristic—but utterly and undeniably thrilling. Great writing, heart-burning characters, probing questions about where technology is taking us—and a plot that zips and zings like an electrical current itself. This is a great young-adult writerat the peak of her powers.
Set in a techno-futuristic world where corporations rule, The Undercurrent explores a time in the near future when teenage girl can wield electricity from her own hands. She’s protected by a soldier called Ryan, but what does the military want with her? Why are the Agitators after her?
The Undercurrent is frightfully accurate as it feels like it could happen at anytime. Between the military, the government and the sinister Paxton Federation, each of these groups have their hidden agendas, especially when it comes to Julianne De Marchi. Was she a result of a lab experiment, mutated genes, or was there something more sinister at work? That’s something that had me glued to its pages, wondering how she got her powers.
While Julianne De Marchi has electricity flowing through her veins, it’s her relationship with her mother Angie that had me intrigued. Angie has a fascinating background, as an investigative journalist and previous leader of the Agitators protesting group, whose reputation was tarnished by the people who worked for. While Angie doesn’t exhibit typical motherly traits you would see in a YA novel, she’s hard-nosed and determined to fight off the injustices to protect her daughter, and I loved how Julianne looked up to her. It’s not often you see this type of parental relationship in a YA novel and I adored it here.
Julianne herself is determined to find out about her past and why she can wield electricity, but she’s also just struggling to cope as she’s dragged from one place to the other. I didn’t really connect with her character as much as I did Angie, however. I don’t know whether it was because there was too much happening to Julianne for me to really get a sense for her character. But I did enjoy reading the action scenes where she had to deal with her electrical currents though, as there were many of these in between.
Ryan, the jock-turned soldier and the flurry of other characters that appeared in the novel faded into the background for me, but I did enjoy the chemistry between him and Julianne. They tried to fight the attraction that they felt for another, and I liked the sizzling romance that was developed over time.
There’s definitely a lot happening in The Undercurrent, and I found it difficult to follow at times with the sheer volume of things that were happening – Julianne dealing with her powers, Angie trying to protect her daughter from family secrets, Ryan’s military orders, plus the actions of the military, government and Agitators. There’s a lot of moving parts, and with the nonstop action and constant character conflicts, I felt like it was too much to take in at times,.
With an explosive plot and an exciting premise posed around military secrets, The Undercurrent is a timely book about a girl that can wield electricity. It explores the far-reaching consequences of questionable government decisions with a great mother-daughter relationship at it’s heart and an electrifying romance.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Thanks to Text Publishing for sending me a review copy!
The Undercurrent is available from Australian bookstores for RRP$19.99.
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