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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Review: Don't Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon

Publication Date: August 28, 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins
Series: PERSEFoNE #1
Young Adult
Pages: 309
Genre: Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been a victim of the system ever since her parents died. Now living off the grid and trusting no one, she uses her computer-hacking skills to stay safely anonymous and alone. But when she wakes up on a table in an empty warehouse with an IV in her arm and no memory of how she got there, Noa starts to wish she had someone on her side.

Enter Peter Gregory. A rich kid and the leader of a hacker alliance, Peter needs people with Noa’s talents on his team. Especially after a shady corporation threatens his life. But what Noa and Peter don’t realize is that Noa holds the key to a terrible secret, and there are those who’d stop at nothing to silence her for good.
Filled with action, suspense, and romance, this first book in a new trilogy offers readers nonstop thrills.
*Digital galley provided by HarperCollins for an honest review*

Unable to be put down. Devoured in one sitting. High speed, all bets are off, an adrenaline pumping showstopper of a thriller. Don't Turn Around is a promising first installment to a high stakes trilogy where the good just keeps on getting and there is no stopping the wheels from turning. You're going fast, and you just cannot stop until you finish. And even after you're done, you want more.

Waking up on an operating table, cunning enough to escape from guards, quick on her feet, Noa gets my badge for badass main character. She has brains; a computer hacker who is able to stay aloof and undetected. But someone has found her. There is something that she has and they want it. I liked Noa from the very beginning, her actions spoke louder than her words did. But that was all that I could process from her. The spectrum of her character is very short, and her background is very translucent with vague uprooting in the story. She seemed much more mature for her age, her upbringing in foster care (an abysmal childhood for the record) and the events graced in the very first chapter of the novel show that Noa is not your average sixteen-year-old girl. She can handle her own and she'd rather be alone . . . until she meets Peter. Then she has no choice.

Another intelligent hacker and the leader of his own hacker alliance, Peter is the rich kid whose snooping allows for the attention of an unwanted corporation watching his back willing to silence him if necessary. The very same people who are looking to get Noa back in their clutches. Unfortunately, the back story for Peter was sparse and sprinkled along the book rather than weaved strongly. The only things that I can say for Peter is that he is one hell of a hacker. His brother had died from this unexpected and unknown virus. He's a rich kid lacking in respect and blowing off his parents. The underdeveloped establishment of his character doesn't give me as a reader the chance to connect and understand who Peter really is and why he became this computer hacker with this complex to change the world and weed out the bad people in the world?  Another thing regarding Peter, I couldn't find the attraction to his girlfriend, Amanda. She is this vegetarian, volunteer who had lost her brother to an overdose after he ran away, but it is never shown or felt as to why Peter loves this girl. Who is she? What attracted him to her? What does he see in her? What did she see in him? Who are these two teenagers? There are details but they fail to scrape the surface.

So character development was the lacking department from this wonderfully executed thriller of a novel. The scales had been tipped with action and plot holding the most weigh and character bring empty and unpolished. I actually count my lucky stars that there was no strong ties to romance between any character. Sometimes romance happens to make or break a novel, and Don't Turn Around, bring a thrill-ride of a novel, would have sunk if romance ended up being a main and determining element for the plot or any type of subplot. I hope that Michelle Gagnon keeps romance, between any of the characters, at a distance for the whole duration of the trilogy, but I have this gut feeling that there might be something that develops in the second novel. I can cross my fingers and hope for the best, right?

After finishing the novel, I found that the ending left for many unanswered questions and explanations that the second novel will hopefully take the time to expand upon. The book merely tip-toed into the major plot points of the novel that I am expecting the second novel to make an even bigger splash with. I am especially interested in knowing more about these characters and what is beneath the surface with them as well as getting to know more about this strange and fatal virus and the Persephone project, being what the trilogy is named after.

Final Summation: Fast paced, the stakes set, a thriller that keeps the blood pumping and the adrenaline high, and an ending that makes you crave the second book, DON'T TURN AROUND makes it so you can't turn the pages fast enough without hurting yourself. Book-adrenaline junkies, this is your read. Come and get it. Eat your heart out.

First Line: When Noa Torson woke up, the first thing she noticed was that her feet were cold.
Story: S
Cover: A