Monday, April 4, 2016

Review: Raging Sea (Michael Buckley)

Raging Sea (Undertow, #2)
Title: Raging Sea
Series: The Undertow Trilogy, Book 2
Author: Michael Buckley (site)
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Genre: Young Adult Speculative Urban Fantasy
Told: First Person (Lyric), Present Tense
Content Rating: Older Teen (violence, murder, mental and physical torture, child soldiers, shoplifting and grand theft auto, driving without a license, some sensuality and language)
Format Read: ARC (publisher)
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Purchase OnAmazon | B&N | Book Depository
Summary:

Lyric Walker was there when the Alpha arrived. Like many, she wondered if they were invaders, never suspecting that they were on the run from a greater terror. When the real threat arrived, it came with a tidal wave that destroyed Coney Island. Everything and everyone Lyric ever cared for, including the Alpha prince Fathom, was either killed or lost forever.

It changed the world. Now the military fights a war it cannot win against an enemy that will not die. Walls and roadblocks pit state against state. Refugees are public enemies, and a new nightmare approaches that is even more terrifying and deadly.

In the midst of this chaos, Lyric, along with her best friend, Bex, and the prickly Alpha girl Arcade, search for Tempest, a rumored top-secret camp where her parents might be imprisoned. But once they find it, she is captured as well, and offered a deadly deal she cannot refuse. The world’s last, best hope is a group of thirty-three children who possess the same powers as she. It falls on her to train them before the second wave of a cataclysmic invasion eliminates mankind for good.

Lyric will protect the ones she loves but may have to sacrifice her heart—and her life—to do it.

*          *          *

Review copy provided by publisher for an honest review. Thank you, HMH!


In a Sentence: A seriously disappointing sequel due to an unbalanced story and lack of character ingenuity.

It's rather heartbreaking when a sequel doesn't live up to the first book. Undertow was an intense and engrossing read for me (see my review here), and after its explosive climax I couldn't wait to get my hands on Raging Sea for more of the same. But to my great disappointment, the intensity and power of the first book did not carry into the second.

Right from the start both the story and characters let me down. Opening several weeks after the end of Undertow, Lyric and teen associates are on the run. This seemed an intense place to begin, but instead turned out to be a tedious road-trip from hell that was not only a torture for everyone involved (especially me) but also rather unbelievable as they did little more than drive and steal and were bad at both. Yes I could understand they were teenagers and didn't have much life experience to work with, but they had shown the capacity for ingenuity in the first book so I couldn't understand how they somehow lacked it in this one. Despite consistent roadblocks that should've been engaging I struggled to maintain interest for the first third of the book, and by the time it took a completely predictable but possibly more intense turn my expectations weren't very high.

The only high point in the beginning was Lyric's "wild thing." I'd been excited when she discovered it in the end of Undertow, and at the open of Raging Sea I felt she was on the path to really embracing it. But then only a few chapters in the wild thing up and deserted her, and it took her brain and backbone with it. She soon had little confidence in herself and her new abilities, and in turn I expected little of her.

And then came Chapter 13. Like a switch was flipped Lyric got her s#!t together (pardon my symbolism) and turned into a completely different character, and while I really didn't buy it I didn't look the gift horse in the mouth. Her ingenuity returned and she was confident, competent, and cunning...for all of a chapter. Then she began acting completely on whim, impulsively throwing herself into things without considering the consequences (namely getting her family tortured or killed) only to give up at the first difficulty when her "plans" hit a snag. Within a chapter or two she was back to being incompetent and indecisive, and although the story had become a bit more engaging I was just as frustrated as Lyric by the outcome her poor decisions had wrought.

Another serious disappointment was Lyric's relationship with Fathom. The boy had an even smaller part in this book than the first, and since his scenes in Undertow were its highlights I painfully felt their absence in Raging Sea. Even when he was present though he was little more than an object for Lyric to direct her emotions at, and most of the time sadly could've been played by a waterproof cardboard cutout since she rarely let him speak let alone do anything of much note. I was aggrieved by how Lyric treated him, refusing to understand his position or listen to him even though he clearly knew more about what was going on than she did. Instead she continued to do things her own incompetent way and dumped all her frustrations on him, which only made me dislike Lyric and in turn her story even more.

The climax was really the book's only highlight, just as intense and engrossing as the first book's climax with good action and movement. As it hit its peak and Lyric finally re-rediscovered her wild thing I actually found myself tempted to read the final book, imagining the trilogy might be worth finishing after all. And then came the last page. I expected the cliffhanger but not the content, and the content elicited a groan and head shake that meant there probably won't be a third book for me. I have since read the summary for the final book (Heart of the Storm) and it does intrigue me a little, but after how everything went down in this book my interest is currently extremely low to continue Lyric's story any further.

Conclusion: While I really enjoyed the first book, this sequel was a disheartening read due to the main character's incompetence and the story's flip-flopping. While the second half was better than the first and the climax a thrilling ride, thanks to the last page I doubt I'll be finishing the trilogy.


Scribble Rating
2.5 of 5 Scribbles


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