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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

New YA Techno Thriller Gets A "Meh" From Me

Waking up in a strange place with no recollection of how you got there is never a good thing.  Especially when you find yourself restrained on a hospital bed in a place that's obviously not a hospital.  When Noa Torson, a 16-year-old runaway, surfaces in just such a situation, she's shocked, confused and very angry.  She remembers nothing about being captured, but she's a hostage, which means someone has been taking advantage of her.  For what purpose, she doesn't know.  All she does know is that she has to get away from them.  Now.

After she escapes from the "hospital," Noa prays the organ snatchers—or whatever they are—will leave her alone.  No such luck.  Goons trail her wherever she goes.  As Noa sneaks around Boston, trying to evade her trackers, she searches her dark memory for clues as to what happened to her.  Whatever the "doctors" did, it must have been something big.  The men aren't giving up the search for her.  Plus, Noa feels ... different inside.  

Strange things are also happening to Peter Gregory, a 17-year-old computer "hacktivist."  To find the answers to his questions, he teams up with the best hacker in Boston—Noa.  Together, they set about solving the weird mystery of which they both seem to be a part.  With a powerful enemy only one step behind them, Noa and Peter need to figure out what's going on before they both end up in the "hospital" or worse—dead.

Don't Turn Around, the first YA thriller by adult crime writer Michelle Gagnon, starts off with a bang (not a literal one, but still ...).  The cat-and-mouse adventure keeps up a frantic pace until about the middle of the novel, when it starts to drag.  Part of the problem is the plot itself—it's not just unrealistic, it's unoriginal, a combo that also makes it predictable and boring.  Add to that a hero and heroine who aren't particularly likable or even rounded-out enough to feel real.  Given all that, I found this book disappointing.  I may be the only one, since it gets good reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.  For me, though?  Meh.     

(Readalikes:  Kirkus called Don't Turn Around "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo for preteens and teens."  As I haven't read Stieg Larsson's book yet, I don't know if this is an apt description or not.  What do you think?)

Grade:  C-

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  PG-13 for language (1 F-bomb, plus milder invectives), violence and depictions of underage drinking

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of Don't Turn Around from the generous folks at HarperTeen.  Thank you! 


  1. Someone else just recently wasn't wowed by this one either. I don't think I'll read it but I still think the cover is deliciously disturbing.

    1. It is "deliciously disturbing," one of the reasons I had such high hopes for the book. But, yeah, content-wise it was just meh.

  2. Ok, I have this one waiting for me and all I can think when I see it is that 80s song that I'm too lazy to look up. Don't Turn Around...

    1. I know EXACTLY which one you're talking about. It pops into my head every time I see the cover of this book: "Don't turn around, I don't want you to see my heart breakin'. Just walk away-yay ..."


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