Don’t Turn Around
By Michelle Gagnon
August 28, 2012
Ages 13 and up
Are you ready for a wild ride that would easily appeal to fans of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Harlan Coben? Have you ever wished to find more “geek” in your reading material? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to read a technological thriller for teens? If any of the above applies to you, then DON’T TURN AROUND by Michelle Gagnon should probably be your next read.
The book starts with an bang and your heart begins to race (and will continue to race for the duration of the story) when the orphaned hacker, Noa, wakes up on the very first page in a seemingly abandoned warehouse. The atrocities done to her are mysterious and alarming, the truth about her circumstances are revealed over the course of the book. The book is told in the alternating perspectives of Noa and the /ALLIANCE/ hack team leader, Peter. Their stories are initially told separately, but then quickly race toward the point in which the two perspectives intersect. Through their perspective you are able to see the larger picture of what appears to be a truly epic corporate/medical conspiracy and possible government coverup.
If you want romance, you ain’t gonna get it here. Personally, I love it when the character’s circumstances and their situations drive the story rather than romance and possible love interests. It was refreshing not to be tangled up in that sort of melodrama for a change. Yet, while the lack of a romantic sub plot was appealing, what I did not particularly care for was the fact that SO MUCH of the story was concentrated on the action and the character’s circumstances that some fleshing out of the characters (also known as “character development”) was sacrificed. I know that Peter was a rich boy who knew computers and was being kicked out of his house and dumped by his girlfriend. I know that Noa was an orphaned girl who also knew computers and was involved in some mysterious conspiracy. Aside from that, I really know very little about the characters. It’s the first book in the series, though, and for an action-packed installment, come lack of character development can be forgiven.
I enjoyed all of the little facts about hacking, online aliases and other geek lingo that were scattered throughout the book. The inner geek in me was jumping around a bit when sites such as 4chan and the quality of Mac machines were made mention of. And while I am pretty much like Noa at the mention of WoW, it did take me back a few years when I was surrounded by players of the online game. Yes geeks, eat your heart out. They are talking to YOU in this book.
In addition to the cool references, the events that occur with in the book are at times alarming. The medical discoveries and class differences (for example the manner in which kids in the foster system are treated) are not for the faint of heart. The topics involved in this story bring INTENSITY in YA to a whole new level. In addition, not all the characters will survive this installment, and those that do will likely need some serious therapy when all is said and done.
While lacking in the areas of character development, DON’T TURN AROUND is an exciting start to what promises to be an intense series. Your heart will be racing until the very last page. Luckily, you’ll have plenty of time to catch your breath, since unfortunately there is no set date for book two in the series at this time.