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Friday, January 25, 2013

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: Don't Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon

Title: Don't Turn Around
Author: Michelle Gagnon
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Publishing House: HarperCollins
ISBN: 9780062102904
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


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 called AMRF threatens his life in no uncertain terms.

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.

Fans of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo will devour the story of Noa, a teen soul mate to Lisbeth Salander.

        (Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


Noa is always on the run. As a foster child, she knows how hard it is to trust someone, so imagine her horror when she wakes up strapped to a hospital bed with no recollection or whatsoever of how she ended up there. Peter Gregory may have the lifestyle of a carefree rich kid, but he's actually the founder of a hacker group that attacks cyber criminals. When he finds new company files in his father's laptop, Peter knows that the whole jig sounds exceptionally shady - especially when men in black come bursting into his life and threaten the lives of his family, and even his estranged college girlfriend. As Noa and Peter find themselves conspiring with each other to take the company down, they must move fast because the people they're attempting to bring down will only be too happy to make sure they are silenced as well.

I have never read The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo, so you can color me clueless as how to gauge this book on that front. What I do know is that Noa is street smart and different in a good way (no witticisms, no snark that is totally uncalled for, some things that typical young adult heroines are just known for). I was pleasantly surprised that it's a gritty and edgy book - I didn't even expect something like this from the publisher at all! The best thing that I liked about this book was how raw these teens are portrayed as, and that they're more than their feelings, and actually think and act far more mature than their age. These characters are so lifelike that I wouldn't be surprised if I walk past either of the characters in the grocery or at the mall. Peter wasn't someone I'd picture as a usual YA male protagonist either. He was handsome, of course. Cocky, well that goes without saying. But there's something about him that's so tangible that I could just tell where his sense of such vigilantism stems from, which obviously still goes beyond his brother's demise. I think Gagnon's characters have this uncanny ability to jump out of the pages and should they attempt it, can actually blend in successfully in our world. 

Another thing that I like is that there are no forced romantic scenes with regards to the two main protagonists. I just don't like it when characters are forced to go out of their way just to include romance when it obviously does not suit the progression of events, so props must be given for making the situation on that front credible and appropriate.

However, where characterization is Gagnon's forte, I couldn't say the same about the plot. In all actuality, it is a very simple plot - two teenagers on the run from the bad guys, and what fuels this book, I believe, are all the action scenes. Noa's involvement in it all wasn't exactly the most exciting thing in the book. When I found out the reason for all this relentless pursual, I was kind of indifferent, and practically went, "Wait, what? That's it?" I found all this running and chasing after the two protagonists getting tedious and stale as I was turning pages. I get that they're supposed to be always on the run given that they're both wanted, but all the running and hiding has had me thinking that Don't Turn Around would be better suited for the movie screen, instead of being confined in the pages of a book.

Despite it all, I obviously can't fault Don't Turn Around for only delivering what it promised, which is an action-packed book starring two rebellious teens on the run for their lives. . If Gagnon had given the plot the same amount of depth she gave her characters, I'm guessing this could have worked out better for me.



  1. Great review! I agree with you completely. I enjoyed this book, but I didn't LOVE it. There were also a few discrepancies in the technical aspects that bothered me.. since I'm a nerd and all. :P

    1. I had to trust the author on all the hacking stuff. I know nothing about it. :) Thanks for dropping by!