Summary: After surviving going over Crystal Falls, Callum finds the small town where he lives is not quite as he remembers it. Buildings and businesses are missing, his parents are still together, and his older brother Cole has been in a terrible accident leaving him ventilator dependent. But the most surprising thing of all is how others are treating him. Suddenly he’s a football star with such a badass reputation that no one will cross him. Except for a handful of people that want him dead. Somehow he has to figure out what is really going on, preferably before one of them succeeds.
Number of Pages: 312
Age Range: 15-17
Review: I was most intrigued by the possibility of Undercurrent by Paul Blackwell. In my life there are parallel universes that I have imagined, resulting from choices I have made or events that have happened in my life. But I never considered a parallel universe based on a choice I wasn’t even aware that I was making. Callum finds himself in just such a parallel universe, and his alternate self is taken aback when he realises the choice he wasn’t aware of was the decision that changed everything. It’s a powerful idea that lost a bit of strength in its execution.
Undercurrent is meant to be a psychological thriller of sorts, but when I started reading I was just confused. At first I thought perhaps Callum had swapped bodies with his brother Cole, then I realised Blackwell was trying to imply that perhaps Callum had injured his brain from his trip down the Falls, even though he did rule out that possibility pretty quickly. But it turned out he found his way into a parallel universe.
I love stories about parallel universes. Except Blackwell doesn’t reveal that it is a parallel universe until over 270 pages into the book. The book is only 312 pages, and even though there were hints along the way about the true nature of what was going on, Callum, the main character, doesn’t notice them or follow them up. I found myself to be extremely frustrated with his complete lack of initiative. Good thing he was able to convince alternate reality Willow to be his friend, otherwise I think it would have taken him even longer to figure things out.
By the time the ideas were flowing, it was the last forty pages of the story and things wrapped up very quickly. I was left wanting to know more because Blackwell had me hooked. It was a frustrating read because the emotional punch came right near the end and then it was just over!
Blackwell has potential, and I would read future books of his because I know that even though I had a love/hate relationship with Undercurrent, I am interested to see if he can harness it.
“I have yet to come you with anything better when the school comes into sight. Hearing the first bell, I realise I’m running late and have to jog the last block. My legs are feeling better, at least. The human body is an amazing machine, I have to admit, automatically repairing itself without any instructions or assistance. Unless it’s really broken, that is. Unless things are really hopeless.” – Callum from Undercurrent by Paul Blackwell, page 189