The Undercurrent

Paula Weston

The Undercurrent
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The Undercurrent

Paula Weston

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 a soldier - 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.

Paula Weston, author of the much-admired Rephaim series, returns with a standalone work: a near futuristic thriller that is utterly and undeniably thrilling. Great writing, heart-burning characters, probing questions about where technology is taking us - and a plot that zips and zings like an electrical current itself. This is a great young-adult writer at the peak of her powers.

Review

Julianne de Marchi has a secret. A secret that she’s being blackmailed for. A secret that people would kill her to protect. Jules has been laying low since she inadvertently started a fire at her school – with her bare hands. Jules has an electrical current that surges beneath her skin. She doesn’t know how it got there and she definitely doesn’t know how to control it. Who made Jules this way? Corrupt agritech business Pax Fed? A military experiment gone awry? Meanwhile, anti-Pax Fed political protest group the Agitators have turned to terrorism. But is someone else even more dangerous pulling the strings?

Unbeknownst to Jules, a privatised military unit has her under surveillance. Ryan Walsh has been tasked with shadowing Julianne but after a building explosion that results in them being trapped in an elevator together, their worlds collide. The incident forces Jules and her tough, investigative journalist mother to team up with Ryan and his unit in order to stay alive – even if the military may be in league with the very people out to destroy them.

Every character is well-drawn and intriguing. Jules is cautious and struggling to understand her power yet determined to uncover the truth, and Ryan proves himself to be more nuanced than his hot ex-footy star turned soldier persona would lead you to believe. Jules and Ryan have great chemistry, their attraction constantly fighting against suspicion.

The Undercurrent is gripping and action-packed, even managing to include romance and family drama in amongst the chaos without feeling forced. 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.


Daniella Robertson is a children’s and YA specialist at Readings Malvern.

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