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Sunday, 9 February 2014
Buy or Borrow: Buy!
Source: ARC Courtesy of NetGalley
Lindsay Sterling's niece has gone missing in the New York underground. The cops will do nothing about it, except pass along a name. Jack Cole. Back in High School they where best friends, but the death of Lindsay's entire family, and her subsequent guardianship of her Niece, not to mention the two years Jack spent held captive in New York's underbelly by sub-humans, more animal than human, has changed them both. Jack's experience was soul destroying and life changing, he's been left a shell of a man.
Jack refuses to descend in to that hell again, especially for a girl who's most likely dead already after being down there a week so far. But Lindsay will go down there with, or without him. When she attempts the latter, she's nearly killed, luckily Jack's friend Reggie showed up to help her out. Jack feels compelled by years of feelings to help her, and so he agrees to go down there and find her Niece. Jack navigates Lindsay through the strange territory, an entire underground civilization. It's populated by the eccentric, the insane and the desperate. Each encounter gets them closer to Lindsay's niece, but it also gets them closer to the insane creatures, determined to have their pet back, but Jack's found a reason to live again.
This book was insane! And I mean that in the good way, it was incredible! Right from the first page you're hooked by the plot and the prose. Then, when we first go into the UnderCity, Stelmack starts to weave an incredible world.
The world building is so incredible, that you can practically smell the rank air, hear the Moles scuttling about. The atmosphere created with words, glides off the page and surrounds you, your vision is fixed on the book, unable to put it down, and you're instantly transported straight in to the world, tagging along behind our characters, observing. I was oblivious to anything else, and that's a hard feat to accomplish with me these days.
The prose is incredible, it creates this incredible story, that's so unique, so different from anything else, it's a breath of fresh air and makes you sit up and pay attention, reluctant to put the book down. The flow is smooth, the past as fast as someone running from the Moles. There's never a dull moment, each word is carefully chosen to create the world, and keep you engaged, there's no pointless filler scenes at all.
Stelmack manages to create an entire world, believable, and incredibly detailed, with the different communities, and the names of the areas and passageways, not to mention the creatures living there, the myths and legends of the UnderCity and the intrigue surrounding the Gallery. I will never, in my life, be able to go on the tube again without wondering....what's really under London? What's down those "disused" passageways? What's through those secret doors? The story and the world sticks with you when you're finished reading, truly unforgettable.
Lindsay is an amazing character. I'm going to admit right off the bat that I would never have the lady balls to go down in to the UnderCity with Jack, let alone by myself. I'd be too terrified. Lindsay has so much drive, determination, and she is fearless. Yeah she has a fear of heights, but she overcomes it in the tunnels, doing what she has to do to get Seline back. What can I say about Jack? He's resilient. He's brave. He goes back to the place he barely escaped, the place that broke him, to help Lindsay. He's an incredible character.
All of the characters where so full of life, from our main characters, right down to the Moles themselves. Each unique. Each community in the UnderCity had their own beliefs, their own story. Each character had varying personalities, varying issues to deal with. They all jumped off the page and grabbed your heart, and your imagination. Even the tiny baby Mole who played with Jack.
The plot was fantastical. The idea of an underground City beneath New York, populated by different people, is unique. As I've said, I've never read anything like it, and I doubt I ever will. The plot was quite complex, we had different parts to it. Some of it was laid out straight away, providing the original engaging factor. Other parts where hinted at, Jack's past, what's down in the underground, and so on. You where kept intrigued the entire way through, and honestly, I don't even know how anyone would be able to guess the plot twists. Every twist totally blind sided me, and it's so so rare for me to find a book that can genuinely surprise me the whole way through!
Undertow is probably the most unique book you will ever read. Fast paced, intriguing plot, incredible world building, intense mythology and legends. I'm half convinced there's a portal in the book that sucked me in to the book, that's how great the world building is. The atmosphere, this sense of a dark, dank place overwhelms you. The romance was perfect. Absolutely perfect. We have an old relationship, that both wanted to be more at the time, and blossoms back. A damaged character needing that love to heal him.
Undertow is a smooth blend of romance, intrigue, pulse racing action and imagination. I honestly cannot recommend this book enough. It was truly mind blowing for me.