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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Review: Don't Look Now by Michelle Gagnon

Publication Date: August 27, 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins
Series: PERSEPHoNE #2
Young Adult
Pages: 336
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

The jaw-dropping sequel to breakout YA thriller Don't Turn Around, which Kirkus Reviews named a Best Book of the Year, calling it "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for teens, a surefire hit"

     Noa Torsen is on the run. Having outsmarted the sinister corporation Pike & Dolan, Noa and her friend Zeke now move stealthily across the country, protecting runaways before they become test subjects for P&D's horrific experiments. Noa knows all too well what that feels like: Whatever they did to her has left her exhausted and scared.

     Back in Boston, Peter anxiously follows Noa's movements from his computer, using his hacker skills to feed her the information she needs to stay alive. But he's desperate to do something more, especially when he learns what P&D has done to his ex-girlfriend Amanda.
     Then, in an explosive confrontation, Noa and her team are trapped in the one place they thought was safe. It will take everything Noa and Peter have to bring down the corporation before it gets them first. And with no one to trust and enemies hiding at every turn, they may be the only people alive who can.
     This stunning second book in the critically acclaimed Don't Turn Around trilogy raises the stakes to their absolute limit and will leave readers begging for the exciting conclusion, Don't Let Go.
*Digital galley provided by HarperCollins for an honest review*

Another daredevil of a novel, Don't Look Now takes up a little while after the first novel, Don't Turn Around, had ended off--with Noa safe, fighting along side Zeke on the front lines, and Peter working his way through the mainframe behind the scenes. It's all out war against the illicit company of Pike & Dolan, going around and testing on runaway children, murdering them in the end. Noa and Peter are fighting to save them all, but the stakes are amped up this time and child's play is finally over. It's all or nothing, and Peter and Noa have so much to lose this time around.

Action and adrenaline pumping thrills set this novel on the move from start to finish. I don't know which one claimed the title for giving me the most rush, Don't Look Now or it's predecessor. Character development did enhance a little more with Noa, I could get a good feel for her and how she felt--that she was still just a kid no matter how dominant and mature she had to act for the brigade she commanded. Peter was still the same, only the genius computer hacker, but now he was getting torn between his feelings. And this was where I gave a large, exasperated sigh.

As I was expecting, but hoping wouldn't happen, romance starts to seep its way into the characters. Whether it's between Peter and Amanda, Noa and Zeke, Teo and Daisy, or the idea of attraction towards each other in the thoughts of Peter and Noa, these little pesky romantic scenes show up continuously while reading. The lack of character development in Zeke and the few details given about his past with Noa and the Center makes for his cliched "I love you the moment I laid eye on you," last words before he sends Noa on her way to safety brushed right off me. There was no real feelings that could be generated out of any of these so-called "relationships." It was a sad attempt to try and help roll the plot along when it was doing find by itself in suspense and thrill. I worst fear happened to come true.
"Peter sighed. Girls should really come equipped with some sort of instruction manual. Computers were so much easier."
-quote taken from DON'T LOOK NOW uncorrected e-galley

The romance subplot creeping in every now and again bumped down the rating I was going to give for this book. I hated to do it, but I had too. I just didn't feel it this time around. And I wish that there was so much more back story given out on the PEMA virus that is infecting these teenagers. Vague details and untold pasts from the first book were still unanswered in the second. Where are my answers, Ms. Gagnon? I'm dying to know just an inkling more than I did in the last book, not left in the dark two straight books in a row. And I was very disappointed in Zeke and Amanda. Zeke being completely flat and underdeveloped it was upsetting. Amanda having this burning rage of jealousy towards Peter and his jumbled up feelings for Noa after she basically admitted that he was just a high school relationship that would dissipate after she entered college. I just felt like the awkward romantic elements could have been substituted for much more substance surrounding characters and information to help clarify the PEMA virus which happens to be the focal point for everything in this trilogy. The final novel will hopefully answer my prayers on the matter, but I was still hoping for a little more depth and back story in Don't Look Now.

Final Summation: Action hits this book out of the ball park, just like the first novel had. Characters and development/explanations were the weakest links of DON'T LOOK NOW. The ongoing romance being honed in on as a major construct of the novel rather than the underlying, unexplained subjects of PEMA, what it stands for and what the virus actually is and how one can contract it, and deeper indulgence of character back story. Unfortunately, DON'T LOOK NOW does not live up to the expectations that I was hoping for, but the intensity and the action does keep at a constant. There is always another twist coming around the corner to keep your heart quickly beating.

First Line: "I though California was supposed to be warm," Zeke grumbled, rubbing his arms.
Story: A
Cover: B