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Saturday, February 28, 2015

When All YA Paranormal Sleuth Books Feel Exactly the Same ...

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Maddie Flynn possesses a unique gift, although it feels more like a curse than a blessing.  When the 16-year-old looks at a person, she sees a date hovering near their head.  As a small child, she doesn't pay much attention to these random-seeming numbers.  It's only after her father dies—on the exact date Maddie predicts—that she and her mother finally understand what the numbers really mean.  Spying a golden opportunity to make a pile of cash, Maddie's alcoholic mom forces her to do readings for desperate clients.

When Maddie foresees the death—the date, not the cause—of a 13-year-old murder victim, she quickly falls under police suspicion.  As more teens are killed in a similar fashion, Maddie becomes their prime suspect.  Now, she and her best friend, Stubs, must find the killer not just to stop the violence and clear their names, but also to avoid becoming the next victims.

Although I've read about a million YA books with pretty much this same setup, I hoped the whole death date thing would set When by Victoria Laurie apart.  No such luck.  Its story and characters felt too familiar, too generic.  Add tell-y prose and gaping plot holes and yeah, it just wasn't that great.  I wanted something memorable.  When wasn't it.

(Readalikes:  Reminded me of The Body Finder series [The Body Finder; Desires of the Dead; The Last Echo; and Dead Silence] by Kimberly Derting and the Bang [Crash; Bang; and Gasp] and Wake series [Wake; Fade; Gone] by Lisa McMann)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (no F-bombs), violence, and intense/scary situations

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of When from the generous folks at Disney/Hyperion via those at NetGalley.  Thank you!


  1. Well dang! This one looked good to me. I'm so tired of the same story being told. And what's worse, they all feel the same! Ugh. At least there's other unique books out there.

  2. That's disappointing, when I read your summary (or was that the blurb?) of the book I thought that it sounded different to many of those other books and I was already planning to go search for it in the local library. It's tough on writers, but it would be nice to see some different plots out there.

  3. Just reading the plot synopsis here sounds familiar. I've seen this done before--the whole seeing someone's death and then falling under suspicion of murder when it happens. But since no idea is really new, I always hold out hope that the execution will be fresh! Sorry this one wasn't.


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