When An Aussie Author Makes Me Read A Genre I Normally Wouldn’t: The Undercurrent by Paula Weston

When An Aussie Author Makes Me Read A Genre I Normally Wouldn’t: The Undercurrent by Paula WestonThe Undercurrent
by Paula Weston
Release Date: July 31st 2017
Published by Text Publishing
Genres: Crime, Dystopia, Thriller, YA
Format: Paperback
Pages: 383
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four-stars
Source: Purchased

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.

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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!

What are some of your favorite futuristic thrillers?
Let me know in the comments below!

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Nick
  • Ooh I was actually sent a copy of this but I haven’t yet had the chance to read it! However, after hearing you rave about it, I am really excited to read it so hopefully i’ll be able to pick it up sometime this month!

    xx Anisha @ Sprinkled Pages

    • I hope you’ll enjoy it, Anisha!

  • Wow, sounds like this book was a total hit. It’s not for me, but I do love when I have an author I love and will read their books even if it isn’t normally my kind of book.

    I just struggle so much with stuff sent in the future. Historical is wonderful for me, but future just freaks me out. 🙂

    • It was a definite hit.

  • I still have the other series by her on my wishlist but like the sound of this one too. YA thrillers that are good are hard to find!! Great review!

    • Her other series is so good too!

  • oh this story sounds very interesting here hun. I do love aussie style of books. Glad to see this YA thriller worked so well for you.

    • It was very interesting! Thanks!

  • This one sounds like a good one. Thanks for the recommendation as this book is going onto my wish list right now. Great review (as always), Nick!

    • Always happy to give book recs, Rowena. 🙂

  • Fav futuristic thrillers…ehhhh, no idea, no idea…honestly I can not think of any except movies lol

    • Movies tend to do thrillers well!

  • I haven’t read a futuristic thriller in a long time. This one sounds really good and exciting. Thanks for putting it on my radar.

    • No problem, Heidi!

  • Oh, it’s times like these where I wish I could buy this in the US. Can I? Did you get this through EW?

    This really sounds like my kind of book, even though futuristic thrillers make me a bit nervous. Well really thrillers in general, since I never have good luck with them. Jules sounds like an amazing character though, as does her ability. Everything about this plot appeals to me ahhhhh.

    Awesome review Nick! Also have definitely heard of Paula Weston, but haven’t read anything by her (thanks to being in the US, womp womp

    • You can get it though the Book depository. I got mine through my sister who is in Australia now.
      Yeah, thrillers make me nervous too, but this was one of the good ones, I promise! 🙂
      I think her Rephaim books are available in the US??

  • Since I’m Aussie I couldn’t resist the awesome title of this post and was so thrilled to read your review! And I have to say I agree — one of the things I always not in reviews and books is what role parents play in YA stories and I love it when an author integrates them so well into the story

    • Right? I always want more YA parents in books! Paula Weston did it really well here.

  • Isn’t it lovely when you follow an author and have a good surprise, Nick? I love it when that happens. And that, in turn, may make me read more in that genre I don’t usually read much in 🙂
    Great review!
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    • It sure is! Only my favorites can make me do that. 🙂

  • Well developed characters and an action filled plot sounds exactly like a story I’d love. Thrillers are a favorite kind of read for me. Can you believe I’ve never read her other series? I need to check and see if they come in audio form from the library. Wonderful review, Nick! I’m going to investigate this further! 🙂

    • Oh Rachel you’ve got to read her Rephaim books. THey are incredible. I’m unsure if they are available on audio however, but hopefully they are.

  • I was like you, a little on the fence with this one. I mean, it’s available on Book Depository (or it was) and I haven’t immediately bought both because of my spending ban but also because I don’t know if I’ll like it. Your review has reminded me it’s Paula Weston! of course I’ll like it because if the Rephaim series is anything to go by she knows how to hook you in to a story straight away and she knows how to write good characters. I think I’ll still hold off on buying but not because I don’t think I’ll like it but instead because it costs a bomb and I’m holding out hope for a UK release. If not I will own this by the end of the year somehow. I just need to ship a friend off to Oz to buy me a copy.

    • I’m pretty sure you’d like this one, Becky. I’m not sue if it’s being released in the UK, but I have my fingers crossed. Or hopefully the price on TBD goes down. Or you could do that haha!

  • Dystopian standalone you say? Hmmmm, I’m intrigued. Normally this isn’t a genre I’d reach for either, but I’ve heard SO many great things about Weston’s Rephaim series (mostly from you and Becky 😂) that I’m eager to read something by her. I’ve been in the mood lately for a thriller, so I might have to see if we’ll be getting a copy in at the library.