In Undertow, the first book in Michael Buckley’s trilogy, an underwater warrior species called “Alpha” emerges from the ocean, turning Coney Island into a war zone: humans versus Alpha. Problems arise when 16-year-old human Lyric Walker falls for the enemy, Alpha prince Fathom—until she realizes the Alpha may not be the enemy at all.
The second book, Raging Sea, picks up with south Brooklyn nearly destroyed, and almost all of Lyric’s family and friends dead or missing—including Fathom. Can Lyric bring the remaining Alpha together before a second invasion destroys mankind for good?
You won’t get answers to these questions until February 2016. But for now, EW has an exclusive cover reveal and excerpt to tide you over. Check them both out below:
RAGING SEA by Michael Buckley
I find Arcade kneeling in the yellow soil, a solitary figure among the rocks and cacti and desert flowers. Her eyes are closed to the blinding sun.
“Sit and pray,” she says.
I groan. I’m impatient. I want to hit something. I want to shake the earth, but every training session begins with this pointless praying.
“The true weapons of war are not swords and spears,” she preaches. “Far more deadly is the clear mind and the careful hand, the strong arm and the confident breath, the tireless legs and the keen eyes. These weapons are gifts from the Great Abyss, the giver and the taker, the beginning and the end, maker of the First Men, and they are worthy of your praise and appreciation.”
“I don’t believe in the Great Abyss,” I confess as I kneel down next to her.
“As you have told me many times, and as I have told you—”
“‘The Great Abyss does not need me to believe in it, Lyric Walker,’” I mock.
Exasperated, I close my eyes, less out of respect and more out of surrender. I don’t know a lot about the Alpha religion other than that its followers are nuts. Their prayers are not the kind of stuff you hear at Sunday school. They’re filled with pleas for success in battle and a death in glorious warfare. They make bloody demands—aid in slaying enemies, mercilessness in enslaving their children. They give gratitude for how much blood they have spilled. They bully their god with threats if he does not fill their paths with even more.
“Did you speak to your creator?” Arcade asks as she rises to her feet.
“He’s not much of a talker.”
“It is the same with the Great Abyss. The giver is stingy with words. Prepare your oracle.”
I stand and raise my hand into the sky. On my right hand is a glove made from a brilliant golden metal and carved with delicate designs—waves, lightning, wind, and other things I don’t understand. With a simple thought, the glove explodes with power and light.
Arcade raises hers as well, setting her beautiful face ablaze in blue energy. The flickering glow reflects off her taut jaw and the muscles coiled around her long limbs like ropes. She’s hot. There’s no other way to put it, but it’s hot in a frightening way, almost too hot. Her lips are full, her eyes are enormous, and her cheekbones are so high you need an oxygen tank to climb to her eyelashes. Looking at her is like staring into the sun. She’s just not good for human eyes. It’s the same with all of her kind. The sons and daughters of Triton have killer looks and killer instincts.
“Do you hear the creator’s voice?” she says.
A whisper tickles my ears, beckoning to me and offering its assistance. Is this the voice of the Great Abyss? Arcade believes so, but I have my doubts. I’m leaning toward it being a hallucination, my brain’s way of making sense of something that should be impossible. I nod without argument. We’re not here to have a religious debate. We’re here to teach me how to kick ass.
“Humans are weak and timid,” Arcade continues. “Your words and movements are those of a tiny silverfish, nervously avoiding the larger predators. It is your fear that keeps you small and powerless.”
“Don’t candy-coat it for me,” I mutter. “C’mon! Can we just skip the sermon about how my people are lame?”
She gives me a contemptuous look. Arcade does not like to be interrupted.
“Push your fears aside and allow yourself to feel the violence and vengeance that make up your blood. Embrace your desire to crush all the fools that stand in your way.”
Suddenly, my footing shifts and shakes, first left, then right, like I’m standing in the epicenter of an earthquake. A second later, mud, silt, and water belch from beneath me, shooting high into the sky and raining down on my head. I’m soaked to my underpants.
“To command an ocean, you must prove to it that you are larger than it,” she shouts over the rushing din and my angry swearing. “Call on your most powerful memory, whether it be pain or joy or terror, when you were sure you would unravel rather than hold on to it any longer.”
I close my eyes and drift back to a life that was torn away from me, one I’m determined to get back. I was fourteen when thirty thousand men and women marched out of the ocean. You couldn’t call them people. Some were gigantic, others grotesque, some downright terrifying, like a book of fairy tales had been upended until all the monsters fell out. They called themselves the Alpha. They carried weapons they made with their own hands, while others had hands that were far more deadly than a sword or trident. Humanity treated them like a curiosity at first. Mermaids! Right here in Coney Island! Who would have believed it? They gawked and took pictures while the Alpha built a tent city on the beach. When everyone realized the visitors planned to stay, things stopped being so much fun.
The Alpha kept their distance, refused to assimilate into their new home, and wouldn’t talk to our leaders. Their eyes said plenty, though. We disgusted them. We were weak and contemptible. As you can probably guess, it didn’t go over very well. Americans are suspicious of people who do not fall head-over-heels in love with our country. We have been taught to believe we are exceptional, blessed even, so when the Alpha refused to drink our collective Kool-Aid, people got angry, then scared, then ugly. Laws were passed, fences constructed, soldiers stationed, and both right-wing and left-wing talk-show hosts made a fortune railing against the “illegal aliens” who came here uninvited. They said their presence was ripping the country apart. Oddly enough, the Alpha brought Americans together in a way nothing ever had before. Skin color, sexual preference, creed, religion, gender—all the divisive forces that had defined our country since the Vikings showed up were now boring when stacked against seven-foot-tall copper-skinned teenagers who could bench-press a taxicab. Who cares what religion you are? There’s a kid going to the local school who has more teeth than a shark.
As we floundered, everything changed again. With the city government ready to forcibly evict the Alpha, we learned that there was something in the water that was much worse. The Alpha called them Rusalka. They were vile things, swept out of depths even the sun fears to go, and they butchered what stood in their way, feasting on the flesh and bones of the fallen. They brought with them a device, a glove, originally designed to ease their suffering, then used to enslave them, but one they quickly turned on their masters. It makes the ocean a weapon, and they used it to destroy Coney Island and as many Alpha as they could. Unfortunately, human beings were in the way. Tens of thousands of people were swept out to sea. Thirty thousand Alpha turned into less than three thousand in less than an hour. It was chaos, and in the midst of it, my parents were taken by soldiers to a camp where other families just like ours are imprisoned.
The few Alphas who survived fled, leaving the Rusalka and the military with a new enemy—me. I train now with the weapon the Rusalka used to destroy my home, one I’m going to use to free my family.
“Get on with it, half-breed,” Arcade snarls.
“Don’t call me that!” I snap, and her geyser turns into a baseball bat as big as a man. I send it swinging into her rib cage, and the impact sets her sailing across the sand. She lands with a thud, tumbling end over end and tearing brush and flowers out by the roots.
Horrified, I rush to her side.
“Are you okay? I didn’t mean to—”
A huge watery fist materializes before me and catches me in the face, knocking me backward with such force it feels as if I ran out into the road and got clipped by a truck. I crash onto my back hard, and pain stampedes through my hips, neck, and chin.
“I have told you to ignore your enemies’ wounds!” Arcade rages. She hovers over me, glowering and clenching her fists. “Your kindness will get you killed.”
The pain is magma rolling down my spine, but I force myself to stand.
The water forms a hammer that swings back and takes me out. I’m flung into the dirt. I think I might have dislocated my shoulder in the fall. It feels like someone just pressed a cattle brand onto my deltoid.
“The soldiers at the camp will not welcome us with open arms, Lyric Walker,” she continues. “They are there to protect the evil that happens within its walls. We both have spoken with Terrance Lir. He told us of the atrocities that happen inside Tempest, how they cut him open and emptied him out, filled his blood with poisons, and took saws to his bones. They did it to his wife and son, too. What is the word humans use to describe it?”
“Torture! What a disgusting human activity. Know this, half-breed, in my world, those who protect the criminals bear ten thousand times the guilt. Do you understand what I tell you? No one is innocent at Tempest, and they must be stopped before their poison can spread.”
Her oracle flashes, and the water turns into a spear. It hovers over me, eager to pierce my rib cage and tear my heart apart.
“When we enter the camp, will the soldiers see a fearful girl, or will they tremble as they would standing before a raging sea?”