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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.
Well, that was one heck of a ride.
I’ve been in love with Paula Weston’s writing and books ever since I read Shadows, the first book in one of my all-time favorite series, The Rephaim. With The Undercurrent, a standalone, Weston delves into an entirely different genre, but once again, she has penned an engaging and thrilling story.
If The Undercurrent had been written by any other author, I would have skipped it because it’s a futuristic thriller, and I personally tend to struggle with those. The Undercurrent however was compelling from the start. It opened up with a bang, literally with a building explosion, and the pacing did not let on. The story is filled with secrets, corruption, government conspiracies and bio-engineering, which made for an exciting book start to finish. What’s awesome here is that the story slowly built up, and you’re only fed information one chapter at a time, which made the book almost impossible to put down. The Undercurrent was non-stop action, non-stop revelations, and non-stop danger, which are qualities I look for in a book like this. Not every author is able to weave those qualities tightly, but Paula Weston is an exception.
Besides an action-packed plot, The Undercurrent had an incredible cast. If you’ve read The Rephaim series, you already know that Weston is a master at writing well-developed characters. Once again, she did not disappoint in that aspect with this book. Jules, our heroine who has the unexplainable and uncontrollable ability to wield electric current, was likable to me from the start. She has had to build up shields around herself in order to protect her secret, which has led her to becoming very quiet, and isolated. Despite her character’s quietness, readers get to see what a powerhouse she was as the story progressed and she learned more about her powers. Jules was mature, brave, and fiercely intelligent.
Along the way, she meets Ryan, a soldier who is ordered to follow and protect her. As with Jules, he was a very nuanced character, and the layers to his character became apparent as revelations about his family life and background were made. He had a quiet intensity and loyalty to him that I thought balanced out Jules’ character. He was a great addition to the story and I liked him a lot. Of course, a romance developed between Ryan and Jules. Though it’s quite subtle, the chemistry and tension were sizzling. Its progression was believable, and I definitely found myself shipping them by the end. I thought the romance provided a much-needed lightness to the story.
What I loved best about The Undercurrent was how much of a substantial role Jules’ investigative reporter mom played in the story. In fact, I’d even go as far as to say that she was the most pivotal character in the story. We saw her in the middle of all the action, which I thought was great. How often do you see YA parents playing an active role in protecting their kids? Hardly! The other side characters were also all compelling. I also liked how the bad guys here weren’t always inherently bad and had several shades to their characters.
If you liked your YA thrillers full of twists and action, with a cast of characters that is just as irresistible as the plot, The Undercurrent needs to be on your TBR since yesterday!