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UNDERTOWN by Melvin Jules Bukiet

UNDERTOWN

By Melvin Jules Bukiet

Age Range: 11 - 13

Pub Date: March 5th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4197-0589-2
Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Two suburban teens ride a sailboat into Manhattan’s storm drains and meet quirky residents aplenty in this wittier-than-thou crossover effort.

Suddenly and uncomfortably thrown into one another’s company by their widowed parents’ romance, Timothy and Jessamyn express their displeasure with a prank. It backfires, sending them rolling down a Washington Heights street aboard the inaccurately named X-tra Large into a hole opened at a construction site. Disturbed but willing to go with the flow (so to speak), the two contrive to elude a massive police search, escape the clutches of the ruthless queen of a gang of subterranean art thieves and ultimately (by converting a stolen Turner canvas into a sail) survive the disastrous effects of a rainstorm. Unsurprisingly, they also bond. Bukiet chucks in such New York types as a stunningly gifted young graffiti artist and a seen-it-all police captain, along with the obligatory mentions of alligators, egg creams and dog-sized rats. He also pauses frequently for touristic disquisitions on Manhattan’s topography and the sights beneath which his protagonists are passing. Mannered references to, for instance, the flood’s “chthonic fury” (“A million drops are more than the sum of their splatters. They are voluptuous and deadly”) and analytical remarks on such topics as the craft of writing or art and money as social constructs will play better to older audiences.

Though classically modeled, this journey tale founders. (Fantasy. 11-13)