UNDERTOW by Michael Buckley
As she heads to school on the first day of its integration, Lyric Walker has strict instructions from her father: keep your head down. Don’t do anything that would make them suspect you are anything other than fully human. When the Alpha emerged from the sea three years sgo, Coney Island was thrown into turmoil. The government claims to want to help the Alpha assimilate with the humans, yet nearly all of the original Alpha who assimilated in secret 17 years ago have disappeared along with their families. Lyric’s mom might be the last one left. And being taken by the government might not even be as bad as the lynchings and beatings administered by so many hateful civilians. But even knowing what is at stake, Lyric can’t help but try to break up a fight between a human and Alpha student and finds herself punished by being assigned to tutor the Alpha prince. As violence at the school escalates, Lyric hopes she can keep herself safe and her secret hidden until her family is able to make their escape.
I had trouble putting this book down! With political tensions reminiscent of the last century’s school integration movement (and some timely commentary on building walls), family tensions and danger for the Walkers, friendship issues for Lyric, a love triangle, and some fantasy battles, there is no shortage of reasons to turn pages. Yet the story flows well and does not seem overburdened by its many complex attributes. I highly recommend this book to teen readers who enjoy dystopias and urban fantasy! I am excited to read the sequel.