Book Review: Michelle Gagnon’s Don’t Turn Around

Posted June 21, 2013 by Kathy Davie in

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Michelle Gagnon’s Don’t Turn Around

Don't Turn Around

on August 28, 2012 and has 309 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

First in the PERSEFoNE thriller series for Young Adults, which revolves around Noa and a group of teens who have survived an infection and are pursued by the government.

My Take

Whoaa, this was excellent! It’s chases and theorizing for the most part with lots of tension and drama. Gagnon is consistent in dropping in hints and slowly releasing possibilities, and she does a nice set-up, teasing out clues that Noa picks up right along with Amanda, but not connecting the two girls, leaving them each their particular subplot. Ones that will connect down the road.

The part I don’t get is if Peter is such a hot computer hacker, how come his browsing about resulted so quickly in the home invasion? I do like that Gagnon has Peter cocky, but then shows him as just another kid as Mason tracks him again and again, as his parents berate him. But Peter does learn along the way as does Noa. It’s a nice real-world progression, sadly slow in one instance, but definitely realistic.

Who are these parents?? Can we trade them in? Maybe send them to an animal shelter that puts dogs down within 24 hours and hope the two are mistaken for beasts in need of being put down? I can’t believe these people!

I like that Noa is smart enough to not go straight home. I also liked the problems Gagnon created for Noa by not having cash/ID drops. She may have figured out a way around the foster care system and done well, but she’s young, and it’s not an issue she’s encountered in the past. So it makes sense that she’s not prepared for the current pursuit.

That ending scene was intense. I really thought Noa had a brilliant plan. I would never have guessed the angle that Gagnon threw in here. What I really hate about it is that I’m going to have to wait for Don’t Look Now!

Lessons learned: set up cash drops and spare IDs.

The Story

Waking up on a surgical table in a warehouse is not what Noa was expecting. Nor does she intend to hang around and ask questions! Unfortunately, she needs cash. Now. And a lucky chance — or is it? — brings an email from Vallas at /ALLIANCE/, needing someone to hack into a company’s website after thugs break down his door and take his laptop, leaving him with some nasty threats.

Threats that Vallas ain’t takin’ lyin’ down!

The Characters

Noa Torson, a.k.a., Rain, a.k.a., Nora Latham, is a sixteen-year-old runaway from the foster system. She’s smart and very computer-savvy, doing freelance computer security as “Ted” Latham. She thought she had covered her tracks.

Peter Gregory, a.k.a., Vallas, is a bored high school senior who discovered his own computer skills, putting them to use with /ALLIANCE/, a secret vigilante group that “targets Internet bullies, animal abusers, sexual predators, and everyone else who took advantage of the weak”. His parents—Bob is a “do-gooder investment banker more interested in appearing good” while Priscilla is a high-priced defense attorney—pretty much ignore him. Well, actually, they view him as the wrong child who lived. Jeremy is/was their older son who died of PEMA.

Cody Ellis was Jeremy’s best friend; they were rooming together at college when Jeremy got sick. Pam is Cody’s neighbor; Ethan is her baby. A6M0, a.k.a., Zeke, is another runaway with a secret.

Amanda Berns is Peter’s college-age girlfriend. She’s obsessive about social work and volunteers at the Runaway Coalition; Mrs. Latimar is in charge at the Coalition. Drew is the new boyfriend; he’s pre-law and a community organizer wannabe.

AMRF and associated people include:
AMRF is an organization associated with Pike & Dolan, a pharmaceutical company. Mason is its primary thug along with Cole.

Missing runaways including Dulcie Patrick, Randy Quinn, Alex Herbruck, Rob “Tito” Garcia…and more. PEMA is a teen-focused virus that’s incurable.

The Pratts were the type of foster parents who had to ensure you knew how lucky you were, how wonderful they were for taking in older foster kids.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a gold-to-brown gradient with a flexible grid as someone’s hand presses against it, trying to escape. I do like the consistency of the angled text as it also goes through a color gradient from a bright yellow at the top to a bright red in the bottom text. It conveys a sense of urgency.

I suspect the title is the first rule in being chased — Don’t Turn Around, as you’re likely to slow down and be caught!