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Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite
The Underminers by A.C. Thompson opens with an alien court in another galaxy, where two criminals are sentenced to exile on Earth for the rest of their lives. Then, the story shifts to a suburban southern California high school, where the arrival of a new algebra teacher named Mr. Veleno coincides with a series of vandalism and theft. Soon students and staff are targeted with maliciousness and manipulation, exposing their secrets and disturbing their normal lives. I like the concept of the story, and the idea of Earth being a prison or a ‘penal colony’ in the galaxy is quite thought-provoking.
There are quite a number of protagonists. It was somewhat overwhelming at first, but after a few chapters it wasn’t an issue anymore. Thompson keeps the narrative moving smoothly between the characters, both in the same and alternating chapters that are cleverly titled. The style of writing is engaging and the fast-paced plot sometimes leave you feeling like there’s scarcely time to catch your breath between pages. The POVs of Tory, Jason, Tony, and Helena are the most interesting to me. It was confusing to figure out Veleno’s/Bastien’s intention at first, and there are still some questions left regarding Nikita, as well as Jason and Tory after the story ended. Nevertheless, I’m sure that there is more to be revealed in the sequel. On the whole, this is a swift and entertaining read, full of threat and intrigue. It is well written for its intended readers, a solid debut from Thompson.