ARC Review – Undercurrent by Paul Blackwell


   Title: Undercurrent
  Author: Paul Blackwell
  Series: Not sure.
  Source: Received for review from Edelweiss
  Release Date: 7/23/2013

 Description from Goodreads:

In this suspenseful teen thriller with a touch of the otherworldly, perfect for fans of Neal Shusterman, a boy goes over a waterfall and wakes up to find himself in a twisted version of the life he knew.

A shadowy figure. An intense roar. The sensation of falling—fast.

That’s all Callum Harris remembers from his tumble over the waterfall. But when he wakes up in a hospital bed and finds his best friend trying to kill him, Callum knows something is seriously wrong. Unfortunately for him, the mysteries are just getting started.

Why are his parents acting like he’s some big sports star all of a sudden? And why are all the buildings in town more run-down than Callum remembers? Worst of all…what happened to Callum’s brother? Either Callum has gone seriously crazy or something happened when he went over the falls. Something impossible. Callum needs answers, and now. Because in this twisted new version of the life Callum knew, his former best friend isn’t the only one who wants to see him dead.

Filled with mind-bending suspense and unsettling thrills, Undercurrent is a grippingly paced teen debut that will pull you under and never let go.


This is another HarperTeen book, so it’s safe to say I heard of it on Tea Time (not that I remember for sure). I’m slightly obsessed with all things HarperTeen, so when I see a book of theirs on Edelweiss, I request it, and I was lucky enough to be approved to read and review an e-ARC of Undercurrent.

I’m having a hard time even collecting my thoughts on Undercurrent, and I finished it two days ago. I really liked the beginning, and how it jumped right into the story. The very first page talks about Callum going over the Crystal Falls and waking up in the hospital. It doesn’t take him long after waking up to realize that things have changed for him, though. People he thought were his friends aren’t around, and people he barely knows are buddying up to him.

From there, though, I kind of felt like I failed to connect to it. I don’t know exactly what it was about it that made me feel that way. I think part of it was probably a mood thing. You see, Undercurrent is a bit darker of a story than the other alternate reality books that I’ve read and loved, and I’m just not sure that’s what I was in the mood to read. I gathered from the description that it would be a bit of a thriller, but I felt like everything in Callum’s new world was twisted and dark. Also, I found myself very confused. We don’t find out until close to the end of the book how or why Callum is in this new reality or a lot of what is going on around him, so I just found myself often confused. One other thing that bothered me, but not to the extent of what I’ve already mentioned, was that there was a bit of predictability in the ending of Undercurrent. Not the full thing, but from the very beginning, there is a mysterious character that Callum sees, and I quickly predicted who he was.

Also, I wasn’t a huge fan of any of the characters. Callum specifically grated on my nerves. He very quickly realizes that things aren’t as he remembers them, but he almost seems to spend most of the story in denial, rather than trying to figure out what was going on. Also, I felt like he was really isolated a lot of the time. Unlike other stories I’ve read, he didn’t really have a confidante or that one person that was always by his side, and it was kind of depressing.

I actually really liked the ending. Finding out the full story of how and why Callum ended up going after the falls was pretty surprising. That was one thing that I definitely didn’t predict. However, I did feel like it ended kind of abruptly. I can’t find anything to know for sure whether Undercurrent is going to be part of a series or not, but I feel like the ending left it so that it could really go either way. I felt like we got a decent resolution to the events of this story, but it also left an opening for a future book, if Blackwell decides to go that way. If there were to be a sequel, I would probably read it, since I enjoyed the ending, though the story as a whole didn’t really do it for me.

Overall, I don’t think that Undercurrent was a bad book. If you’re in the mood for an alternate reality story with a lot of mystery and a bit of a dark, creepy story line, you would probably really enjoy this book. Honestly, I think it was more of a case of the wrong book at the wrong time for me, so I can’t really recommend whether to read or avoid it. I guess read the description, think about the things I didn’t like about it, and make the decision for yourself. I really wish I could be of more help and give a definitive answer, but I’m still just not really sure how to rate this book. I guess because I enjoyed the very beginning and the very end but felt mostly detached throughout most of it, I’m going to just say that it’s okay.

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One thought on “ARC Review – Undercurrent by Paul Blackwell

  1. […] Undercurrent by Paul Blackwell (2 stars) […]

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