Saturday Smackdown: UNDERTOW by Michael Buckley


Once a week, editor Nicole Brinkley breaks down book trailers and explains whether they’re championship material or worth tossing in the trash. This week, she looks at the book trailer for Undertow by Michael Buckley.

I have four words to describe the Undertow trailer:

I love this trailer. It makes me want to see Undertow become a full-length feature film, and given my general hesitation for book-to-film adaptations, that’s hard to do. But it works really, really well.

Undertow by Michael Buckley is about Lilac Walker, who witness the appearance of Alphas (five-nations of ocean-dwelling warriors) who wash up on the beach of Coney Island. Awe fades away to tension and a potential war between them, but an alliance with the Alphas may be the only chance the humans have to survive the enemy that’s coming next.

This isn’t a trailer that builds on seeing characters and how they interact. We hear Lilac, of course; she tells us what the story is about. But it’s the images here that build the world, that add to the story. Lilac never mentions it, but we see the hatred and the tension between the Alphas and the humans. We see what the Alphas are without them ever being shown to us. We see glimpses of what this dangerous new world is like.

We see a world that we can only glimpse at from a book cover, and it’s done so, so very well. The details in every shot are remarkable – the mermaids on the signs, the text on the signs of the protestors as they storm the streets. We recognize aspects of our world and see how they’ve been distorted and changed.

This trailer can wear a championship belt with pride.

There’s only one tiny smidgen of an error for me, and that’s throwing the E. Lochart blurb at the end. Whether or not author blurbs (or recommend-y review quotes from the author) actually work is a huge big question mark for publishers. Still, on the off chance it does help, they throw it on the cover and on promotional material and mention it in email blasts to bloggers. Those are the places it might work. For here, it just left me confused as to why were were showcasing a lengthy quote that I didn’t have enough time to read anyway before flipping over to the cover.

Next time, just leave the blurb out.

What do you think of the Undertow book trailer? Sound of in the comments below!

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About Author

Nicole Brinkley

Nicole is the editor of YA Interrobang. She has short hair and loves dragons. The rest changes without notice. Follow her on Twitter at or Tumblr at . Like her work? Leave her a tip.

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