Book Review: Don't Turn Around

Don't Turn Around
Don't Turn Around
By: Michelle Gagnon
Published by HarperCollins
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Genre: YA science fiction thriller
310 pages 
Buy it on Amazon, IndieBound
 or Barnes and Noble
Source: Kindly Provided by Publisher

My thoughts: 
This is one of the most impressive YA plots I've read in a long time. It's nicely streamlined for younger readers, yet doesn't lack for fast-paced plot points. Gagnon avoids the pitfalls of obvious predictability and ridiculous implausibility, both of which can be commonly found in YA thrillers. This alone makes me want to read more by this author.

Characters are usually what hooks me into a read, and in this book, they are really well-done. The interpersonal relationships are amazingly realistic- impressive, since they have to develop during an adventure that is gaining speed as the pages roll by. The main character, Noa, is a girl who grew up in the foster system: a kid who wouldn't likely be missed, yet is smart and tough. She is such an appealing underdog character; you'll quickly be rooting for her. Her compatriot, Peter, is a great example of a YA male character who doesn't have to rely on being a jock or a jerk to carry a storyline. I love them both. I especially love that they don't take a hokey time-out from running for their lives to have a "romantic moment." The subtext of the relationship is there without having to slow the plot with a sappy love scene, thank goodness.

I've see several comparisons of Noa to Lisbeth Salander, which doesn't make sense to me beyond that they are both hackers. Don't Turn Around reminds me much more of a favorite of mine, Neal Shusterman's Unwind. I am certain that the two share a target audience, and that readers, both male and female, who enjoy one will love the other.  

Summary from GoodReads:
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.


  1. Noa and Peter sound like characters I would enjoy as well. Hooray for no hokey romance on the run. I need to pick up this one and Unwind.

  2. As if I wasn't already anxious to read this one... Such a great review, I really can't wait to start this one! I'm a character driven reader so it's nice to hear they are well written. My daughter really enjoyed Unwind so I'll have to push this one at her as well.

    1. Ali, it sounds like we share the same taste in books. You daughter will love this one, for sure!

  3. Ohhhhhhh when you compared it to Unwind I was like, SOLD! I'm going to her signing next week so I'm going to have to read the book ASAP! Awesome review!!

    Literary Exploration

    1. Anna, isn't Unwind a great read?? I would love to hear your thoughts when you get to read Don't Turn Around. :)

  4. I can't wait to read this! You had me at the Unwind mentioning.

  5. Great review and absolutely spoiler free! I actually haven't read any hackers stories, and this seems like a good one to start! The cover looks a little eerie to me though, doesn't look like a YA book...

  6. It's good stuff, Andrea!

    Allyson, it's very much YA, just very fast-paced. I hope you give it a try. :)

  7. I'm really looking forward to checking this book out. I've heard nothing but great reviews on it.


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