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I Belong

Review: Don’t Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon

Title: Don’t Turn Around

Author: Michelle Gagnon

Genre: YA Thriller/Mystery

Series: PERSEF0NE Trilogy (Book 1)

Publication Date: August 28, 2012

Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062102907 (Harper Teen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062102904 (Harper Teen)

Reviewed by: Kayla


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.

Quick & Dirty: A girl tries to find out who is behind the kidnapping of runaway teens (including herself). A boy leads a hacktivist group that eventually leads to Project Persephone.

Opening Sentence: When Noa Torson woke up, the first thing she noticed was that her feet were cold.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Noa Torson wakes up in a “hospital” with a huge blank hole in her memory. How did she arrive at the hospital? No, why is she even in the hospital? Not one for detainment, Noa escapes from the building, only to find that she was in a boat storage unit in the middle of nowhere. With an ingenious plan, Noa makes her way back to Boston, Massachusetts, determined to find out why someone would kidnap her and hold her for two weeks. At the same time, Peter Gregory is snooping through his father’s desk when he finds a folder labeled Project Persephone. Intrigued, Peter decides to use his hacking skills to research the folder. But just as he opens a internet window, a man named Mr. Mason and his men break down his door, steal his laptop and warns Peter to forget about Project Persephone. Of course Peter doesn’t oblige, but searching comes with a price. His parents kick him out of the house and his girlfriend in college, Amanda, is drawing farther and farther away. After a ironic coincidence, Peter and Noa join forces against this new threat to runaway kids on the streets.

Fabulous. Ingenious. Absolutely incredible. Just to name a few. This book blew my mind with the intricate plot and deep characters and witty dialogue. It reminds me of an Artemis Fowl book for teens with less criminal mastermind and more crazy plots and adventure. Some of the plot is a tad predictable but there was enough action and suspense that I looked over it.

This book is a great example of a YA book that doesn’t revolve around romance. Sure there are some aspects of romance such as Peter and Amanda. But that’s a relationship that is falling apart. Peter is starting to like Noa by the end of the book, but throughout the entire book, just about 10 sentences are dedicated to it. BUT those who like a little romance in a story, there’s enough to satisfy, but I doubt you’ll be paying attention to the relationships with everything else that’s going on.

The most important factor in this book — the thing that makes this book original and applies to this day and age — is the fact that Noa and Peter live in a hacking society. Both can hack a computer or system with ease. Before I read this book, I wondered how Gagnon would describe hacking without overloading on computer codes or specific details. Gagnon creatively uses analogies to describe Noa or Peter hacking. Breaking through a castle wall or playing hide and seek are (according to Noa) similar to hacking a system. Peter also leads a “hacktivist” online group called /ALLIANCE/ that seeks out criminals, abusers or companies that cheat the law. Then they use their hacking skills to create a type of justice (i.e. closing their bank account, putting classified articles online, etc.)

Overall, I loved this book and cannot wait for the next book. There’s not a terrible cliffhanger, but just enough to leave you hanging on to the last page or rereading the ending. Narrated in third person from both Noa and Peter’s objective point of views, Don’t Turn Around is a stunning debut that is worth every minute of reading and every hour of no sleep.

Notable Scene:

Just get /ALLIANCE/ up and running again, we’ll need it. Check in here every day. Don’t worry, we’ve got a plan.

Sounded like she was still with that guy, the one he’d dubbed “Molotov cocktail man.” The thought bothered Peter more than he’d like to admit. But at least Noa wasn’t alone, he told himself. It was good that someone was watching her back. Even if for the moment, it wasn’t him. Peter typed, Better than the last plan, I hope.

Definitely. This time we’ll be the cavalry.

And she signed off.

Peter spend a long moment staring at the screen, then logged off and powered down the phone and laptop. He tapped his finger on the steering wheel, thinking. Did he really want to get involved in all this again? Risk his parents, and Amanda?

Yeah, he thought, remembering Cody. Hell yeah. He’d do whatever they needed him to.


1. Don’t Turn Around

FTC Advisory: HarperTeen provided me with a copy of Don’t Turn Around. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Review: Don't Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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