Undertow by K.R. Conway
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I received an copy of this book from Net Galley in return for an honest review of the book..
This book had so much potential.
The writing was not half bad. The idea was pretty interesting, but the gleaming flaws, the world building or lack thereof, the immense amounts of info dumps, padding, telling rather than showing and petty cliches ruined this book for me.
1. The Cliche Characters
Ok. I can’t deal with this anymore. I get the whole “we’re attracted to each other because paranormal romance” thing, but it is just so LAME. It would make some sense if there had been any prompted reason, but no, Eila and Raef are just randomly attracted to each other like opposite ends of a magnet. Plus, Raef is goddamn 100 some years old. That is just plain creepy.
But not only so, the biggest problem I have with this romance is the fact that it’s a total “plain Jane meets her Mr. Rochester” romance. There’s not a single point of originality in it besides that.
I barfed at the moment Nikki and her minions were called “barbie dolls”. Way to perpetuate a cliche. Do all high school bullies have to be over the top idiots who are only on the top of the social hierarchy due to their sexy sexy bods and rich parents? So no fat people can be up there? No emo asshole could also be bully as well? Wow, this school is so damn unrealistic.
MJ, Ana and Eila are made from basically the same mold. MJ is just a slightly more goofy version of Eila and Ana is just a slightly more emo version of Eila. They share almost the same type of jokes and sarcastic remarks. It’s like they’re the same person born into three different bodies. Every time they talk to each other, I get that weird feeling in my gut when someone talks to themselves. It just feels so unnatural.
Let’s be honest, the whole Raef, Mr. Hot Sexy Dude hanging out with little Plain Jane newbie over there rather than hottie Barbie Doll is so cliche, I almost put the book down then.
Right, you’re slightly fat and you’re not the least bit suspicious of Raefs intentions of sitting near you?
2. The Lack of World Building
There was an attempt at world building in this book, and it was executed pretty decently, but not quite well enough. The entire premise of the book – the world, the different humans – literally gets blurted out in 2 chapters and it’s mentioned in such a way that makes it feel like you’re just suppose to take it in like it’s nothing all that big, but I can also tell the author was trying to get readers to feel mind blown.
Except for, 1. You were not very subtle in foreshadowing things. I suspected the Eila would be special the moment the book started. 2. If you want readers to be mind blown, maybe Eila’s reaction should have been more like “You guys are talking a bunch of bull! What the hell have all of you been smoking lately?” rather than “OMG! I’m special? I’m not going to question that at all, because as a normal human being, I will just simply accept the fact that I am not technically completely human without much of a second thought.”
The whole concept of Lunaterra and Mortis is really cool and different from the typical crapshit that is called vampires, but the concept isn’t explained well enough and I’m left with many questions about both races that feels much more like plot holes rather than a withholding of information on purpose.
Also, maybe next time, try not to info dump your entire world onto the reader in one chapter.
3. The Not So Good Writing
The writing style of the author was not bad. It was very readable and not at any point was I seriously bored, but the dialogue is completely unrealistic and awkward. Some authors have a knack for writing dialogue. Unfortunately, it seems like Conway is not. Don’t get me wrong here. There are some moments where MJ cracks a joke that is completely hilarious, but most of the time, they’re prompted incorrectly, so after I laugh I go ahead and think “but no real human would actually say that”. Plus, there are lots of moments where Conway should’ve used contractions, but doesn’t, which makes the dialogue sound stupid.
There’s a lot of padding, especially in the beginning where we’re informed of things that no one particularly cares about.
There’s a lot more telling than showing, which is “cleverly” hidden as dialogue, but that doesn’t actually work (the most extreme example being Sophie’s World, literally a textbook written in dialogue form).
And then the author’s use of cliches bothered me to the extreme.
While this isn’t one of the worst books I’ve ever read, I can’t say it’s very good either. Would I recommend it? Probably not. Would I read the second book? Maybe.
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