Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Raging Sea: Undertow Trilogy Book 2

Raging Sea: Undertow Trilogy Book 2

Michael Buckley
Fiction  Series
For ages 13 and up
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016   ISBN: 978-0544348448

Lyric had a very ordinary and happy life until she was fourteen. Until that time she was popular, vivacious, “a hurricane who blew people away.” Then her parents finally told Lyric that her mother Summer was not a human. She was a person from the sea, one of the Alpha, and no one could know their family secret. Other Alphas had come to live on land when Summer did, and had integrated with the human world as she had done. Some of those Alphas had been discovered and were taken away to a place called Tempest, a terrible place where they were dissected and tortured. After finding out about her heritage Lyric tried to make herself as small as she could so that no one would pay attention to her and Summer.

Then a group of Alpha, composed of several ‘mermaid’ species, came onto the land at Coney Island. They were quarantined on the beach and treated very badly. Some attempt was made to help them to assimilate with the human population, but the experiment was not a success. Distrust between the humans and Alphas was ever present, and violence simmered under the surface. Just a short while ago the king of the Alpha decided to ally himself with a particularly violent Alpha tribe, the Rusalka, and he attacked Coney Island with a tidal wave that killed hundreds of people, including many of Lyric’s friends and the Alpha king’s own son Fathom.

Since the terrible tidal wave incident, the alpha have been attacking cities all along the east coast. The fabric of American society is falling apart, and the country is teetering on the edge of complete collapse. Lyric’s mother and father were taken to Tempest and now she, her best friend Bix, and a foul-tempered Alpha called Arcade are heading inland to find Tempest. Lyric is wanted by the authorities and she has no money or resources to help her reach her goal, so her only recourse is to steal vehicles, food, and supplies when she can.

In fits and starts she heads for Tempest, which is in a desert in Texas, constantly dodging the police and anyone else who wants to get their hands on her. The situation is not helped by the fact that Arcade and Lyric do not get on at all. Arcade was affianced to Fathom, and Lyric was in love with him, which creates a tense situation between the two girls. The face that Arcade despises Lyric for being a weak “half breed” does not help things.

In spite of all her efforts, the people from Tempest eventually find and capture Lyric and she begins to understand that the only reason she got as far as she did was because they wanted her to. They were manipulating her all along and now they have her in their grasp.

Lyric and Bix soon find themselves in the heart of Tempest, where are they treated with shocking cruelty. Both suffer terribly and for a while Lyric just wants to give up. She is able to talk to her father, who was badly injured back on Coney Island, and finds out that her mother is being kept in a tank along with the other captured Alphas. Then she finds an inner strength, that part of her that used to be alive and bright, and she slowly but surely begins to take her life back. She may be a prisoner, but she does not have to let them break her.

In this sequel to Undertow, Michael Buckley carries forward the story of a girl caught between two worlds, two worlds that are now at war. Lyric has to pick who she is going to help, a decision that is made especially hard because powerful and dangerous people on both sides are trying to manipulate the increasingly chaotic situation to their advantage. What makes everything even harder is that the people Lyric cares about are stuck in the middle with her and more than anything she wants to protect them and keep them safe.

Readers who think they understand what is going on are going to be shocked when they discover that their preconceptions were wrong. In Lyric’s world nothing is what it seems.

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