Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Review: Don't Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon

Title: Don't Turn Around
Author: Michelle Gagnon
Series: PERSEFoNE Trilogy #1
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: August 28, 2012
ISBN13: 9780062102904
Format: hardcover
Genre: YA, sci-fi, action, thriller, suspense
Source: borrowed from library
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.

The opening chapter of Don't Turn Around begins with Noa waking up in a warehouse, on top of a table with an IV in her arm. Ring any bells in your head? It's obvious she's the product a medical experiment of sorts, and if anyone's caught in that position, what do they do? Run. Get away. Go far, far away and never look back. On the other side of the spectrum, Peter Gregory, who's basically a computer prodigy, has his house broken into and his computer taken away because he hacked into the company AMRF's files. He had already previously entered databases of the Pentagon, Scotland Yard, as well as the FBI unnoticed, but what information does AMRF hold that makes them put up such tight security?

Don't Turn Around has a very good plot line. Never slow, never too fast. The beginning didn't drag, as you can see the initiating event happened straightaway. Michelle Gagnon didn't take the first few chapters to build the world, but instead let the reader slowly learn about the setting and lives of the characters as the story went on. The only thing I had against it was how both Peter and Noa had been found several times by the guys who broke into Peter's home but never caught. Repetitive much? There's not much to be said about the setting, as Don't Turn Around is a story based around action. Time wouldn't be spent to world-build, but that definitely doesn't bother me. It was still a throughly enjoyable story.

One part of the story I was very intrigued with was Michelle Gagnon's explanation of a possible reason for Noa's erratic eating, lack of sleep, and basically why she's acting weird through Peter's friend, Cody, who works at a hospital. Another is her very much believable virus that's plaguing the people all over, which pretty much makes teenagers invalids and quickly die, something that Peter's brother fell victim to. Firstly, they seemed plausible, in an odd way. Chances are, it'd never happen since a lot of things that happen in the world of fiction don't, but she had me sold. She could've easily been feeding me a ton of bull but it was the conviction behind her words that would make me fall for it.

Now to the characters. Since this story rotates viewpoints between Noa and Peter, with one or two interjections of Amanda, Peter's ex-girlfriend, I got to get behind both the characters and understand them. Though I didn't feel that intense connection between myself and them, I still liked them both very much. I could clearly see both of them progress; Noa from her slighly cold, unattached demeanor to someone a bit more friendlier and open in the end, and Peter from his very sheltered life thrust into something so much bigger than he could've thought existed.

A minor character that I thought deserved some recognition is Amanda, previous girlfriend of Peter's and a viewpoint other than the two protagonists we see the world from. She had devastated Peter when he saw her hanging out with another guy, but though it never says in the story, I don't think she was cheating on him. She only fell out of love with Peter, but eventually, the two moved on. This I love about Michelle Gagnon's writing. Michelle didn't make a huge scene in which Peter freaked out at Amanda and she dropped to her knees and begged for forgiveness. She kept the breakup drama free and didn't antagonize Amanda.

Don't Turn Around is an amazing sci-fi read, for those that want a plot that pushes and pushes. There were some flaw in here, such as the repetitiveness and me not able to connect with the characters, but overall it was a great story that I'd like to recommend to sci-fi and action fans.
False Memory by Dan Krokos
Erasing Time by C.J. Hill
Origin by Jessica Khoury

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