- Longlisted, Book of the Year: Older Readers, CBCA, 2018
- Shortlisted, Aurealis Awards, Best Young Adult Novel, 2017
Eighteen-year-old Julianne De Marchi is different. As in: she has an electrical undercurrent beneath her skin that stings and surges like a live wire. She can use it—to spark a fire, maybe even end a life—but she doesn’t understand what it is. And she can barely control it, especially when she’s anxious.
Ryan Walsh was on track for a stellar football career when his knee blew out. Now he’s —part of an experimental privatised military unit that has identified Jules De Marchi as a threat. Is it because of the weird undercurrent she’s tried so hard to hide? Or because of her mother Angie’s history as an activist against bio-engineering and big business?
It’s no coincidence that Ryan and Jules are in the same place at the same time—he’s under orders to follow her, after all. But then an explosive attack on a city building by an unknown enemy throws them together in the most violent and unexpected way.
The characters are endearing and believable, the romance is meaningful without being saccharine and the plot races along with impeccable timing.
Paula Weston conjures a frighteningly believable vision of near-future Australia in this incredibly timely read.
This is an explosive action thriller with a superpowered heroine, layered and complex supporting characters, an awesome romance, a high-octane adventure, and basically everything I need to make me a deliciously happy reader.
The Undercurrent is gripping and action-packed…Paula Weston has created an ambitious thriller that presents us with an alarming look at Australia’s near future and where our technological advances could be taking us. This is a novel full of twists and turns perfect for older teens. You won’t know who to trust until the very end.
Paula Weston raises the bar for an intelligent, page-turning speculative young adult thriller full of complex issues and wonderfully varied and sculpted characters worth caring about.
Big themes like bio-engineering, genetically modified food and what it does to small farmers trying to hold onto their land like Ryan’s parents and brother, and the power of big companies to manipulate the government, all get a fascinating treatment here, and the reader will be swept along questioning the role of government in addressing environment and economic threats. However it is the plot and the idea of an electric current zinging along in Jules body that makes it a stand-out read. This is a book that readers will want to finish in one sitting as I did. It is a fantastic stand-alone novel.
A scary and plausible vision of the future, The Undercurrent is a high-voltage read recommended for older teen readers.
The characters are engaging, the revelations are well-paced, and the action scenes are cinematic. It is perfectly pitched for its slightly older YA audience.