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Agents Of The Undertow

Agents Of The Undertow - Novel


Book One in the Pan21 Trilogy

"McDaniel’s (The Future Is Short, 2017, etc.) wise choice to set a global-plague tale in the smaller Republic condenses his epic narrative and generates a swift pace, while descriptions of characters and environment are generally subdued—akin to the “colorless” survivors. But the muted prose is befitting of Pan21’s devastation (Helen walks the shockingly empty hallways of a Dallas hospital) and makes flashes of color stand out: a morning of “blood-red sunlight” or a photo of Helen’s now-dead 5-year-old son in a blue-striped shirt. Chaste’s administration poses an unmistakable threat, monitoring citizens with flying quads and HealthPals (devices inserted in skin) and ultimately branding Helen a terrorist. A romance between Helen and her boyfriend, Francisco Stiles, meanwhile, is fleeting, though it’s rich material for the planned sequel.

This gripping sci-fi–esque yarn ably incorporates social and political themes.”

~ Kirkus Reviews


Seven years after the end of Pan21’s reign, survivors like Helen Small—with their ashen skin and hair and eyes—are singled out, persecuted and vilified as living reminders of all the havoc and pain the virus had inflicted. In the Republic Of Texas a power-hungry politician has seized control, preying on people’s fears that the virus has returned and the role survivors play in that return. Helen is trying to make sense of it all, to uncover the truth but truth may be as irrelevant as it is malleable. As the Republic falls deeper into a dystopian and totalitarian state Helen Small is hunted as a terrorist.

Outside force aren’t all that conspire against her. Helen is haunted by her own guilt. Why didn’t she die like everyone else? Why did her husband and child perish from Pan21? Why couldn’t she have been with them when they died? How can she find meaning in this new world that fears her and sees her as a pariah? As she struggles to expose the truth she has to learn to overcome her own demons and shortcomings.


The novel is well-paced and almost breezy, moving the story along at a good clip. McDaniel’s strength is realistic dialogue that conveys a wide range of character emotions, often multiple emotions in the same scene.”

~ The BookLife Prize

Focusing, as it does, on a world in which the truth has taken a back seat to fake news and hysteria, it’s hard to imagine when AGENTS OF THE UNDERTOW by Jack McDaniel could have been more timely . . . a scathing dystopian novel filled with eerie echoes of the present day.”

~ IndieReader


in category Fiction

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