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Don't Turn Around

Review

Don't Turn Around

I don’t know about you, but if I were to wake up chained to a hospital bed, having no idea what day it is or why I’m there, I don’t think I would think as clearly as Noa, who immediately figures out that this is a place where she’s not safe. The highly skilled computer hacker thinks on her feet and makes a run for it, and that’s when you know that DON’T TURN AROUND is going to be a heck of a ride.

Noa can’t remember what happened to her—the last thing she remembers is being grabbed by someone—but she just keeps running. Knowing that the people who took her are still after her, Noa has to keep thinking fast to stay a step ahead, with no one to rely on but herself. Or so she thinks.

"Coming from a bestselling author for adults, DON’T TURN AROUND is a gripping read... And Gagnon even manages to get some social justice in there without seeming self-righteous or preachy."

At the same time, Peter Gregory, also a computer hacker, is home alone, living his “poor little rich boy” life. His parents are out, and he’s digging through his father’s home office when he finds a bunch of files with mysterious acronyms and a weird-sounding title, Project Persephone. Before he can do much research, though, Peter is accosted by men breaking into his house, and they steal his laptop, tell him to stop digging, and then, most creepily, tell Peter to tell his parents hello.

Kind of like Noa’s situation, I would be a little too fearful to do anything after that. But Peter’s not just anyone. He is the founder of an organization called /ALLIANCE/, a group of vigilantes who use hacking as a way to level the playing field and put bad people in their place. Peter makes sure his organization never does anything physically threatening or technically illegal, but they’re known for doing things like hacking into pedophiles’ computers and exposing their secrets to the police.

After the break-in, Peter is more eager to learn what Project Persephone is about. So he writes an email to an /ALLIANCE/ member, Rain, to ask her to help.

I can’t tell you much more than that without ruining the plot. Suffice it to say that DON’T TURN AROUND is fast-paced, full of adventure, and mysterious. It has all the elements of a good action movie, along with a few elements of dystopia. Like any good thriller, there’s a conspiracy at work, and when Noa and Peter end up meeting, they realize they are both tied to it.

I don’t read thrillers. I don’t read mysteries. I’m tired of dystopia. And yet, I had to stay up reading for hours, unable to put this book down. Coming from a bestselling author for adults, DON’T TURN AROUND is a gripping read, and it’s clearly written by someone who is interested in what she can do with teen characters, not somebody phoning it in for a piece of the big trendy pie. It’s the beginning of a trilogy, but it won’t leave you feeling like you’ve only read a portion of a book that was unfairly cut off before you were done reading. Taking place all over Greater Boston, it features two main characters who might be geniuses, but in the context of a thriller, they’re still believable characters. And Gagnon even manages to get some social justice in there without seeming self-righteous or preachy.

I’ve been saying I’m done with trilogies, but I’ll be waiting for the next installment of the Persephone thriller with bated breath.

Reviewed by Sarah Hannah Gomez on September 21, 2012

Don't Turn Around
by Michelle Gagnon