Category Archives: Mystery/Suspense

Don’t Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon

Don't Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon

Gagnon, Michelle.  Don’t Turn Around. HarperCollins.  2012. ISBN 0062102907 (Note: This is based off the advance review copy)

Reader’s Annotation: Noa wakes up on an operating table with a new scar on her chest and doesn’t know what’s going on or who to trust. Peter stumbles across an unusual corporation in his father’s business files & next thing he knows he’s being beat up and threatened. Can the two work together to find out what is going on?

Plot Summary: Noa is an orphan who has been in and out of foster homes for most of her life until she uses her computer hacking skills to create a fake foster family. One day she wakes up on an operating table in a warehouse not knowing what’s going on or who she can trust.

Peter is bored one night and starts searching through his father’s business files when his door is kicked down, he’s beat up and they steal his computer.  Angry, Peter uses his hacker alliance to try and figure out what’s going on and he pulls in Noa aka Rain to help him out.

Soon the two realize their questions are all tied together and there are very few people they can turn to for help.

This book grabbed me from the very start.  Noa’s character is a strong, street smart teenager who has not just survived being shuffled in and out of the foster care system but managed to get herself out, create a new persona and even gained a lucrative employment position.   She’s quick thinking in situations that would leave most people stunned and unable to move and yet shows some vulnerability when she realizes she was chosen as a victim because no one would notice if she disappeared.  Peter’s character was also interesting.  He comes across initially as your typical spoiled rich brat who is incensed that he’s manhandled and his parents don’t react how he wants them to.  We begin to see his other side as the founder of the ALLIANCE group of hackers who try to right injustices using their hacker skills.  His family life is also sad to see and having a lot of money and being spoiled doesn’t make up for the miserable home life he’s been raised in.

The story itself is action packed and Noa and Peter are constantly on the run.  Some of the twists are expected but still make for an interesting read.  This is the perfect read that I think would appeal to both teenage girls and boys.  There is a hint of romance but the focus is on the action and suspense with strong male and female characters.

About the author

Michelle is a bestselling author of adult thrillers such as The Tunnels, Boneyard and The Gatekeeper.  Boneyard was a finalist for the 2009 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense.

Don’t Turn Around is her debut young adult book and is the first in the PERSEFoNE Trilogy and she will also be releasing a standalone young adult book in 2013.

Genre

Contemporary

Curriculum Ties

English

Book talking idea

If you had the skills to do so what type of identity would you create for yourself?

Reading level

Ages 14 and up.

Challenge Issues

N/A

Why did I include this book?

Hacker stories always have great appeal because really what teen wouldn’t want to have to skills to bring down those they feel have done them an injustice?

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Fiction, Mystery/Suspense

Ten by Gretchen McNeil

Ten by Gretchen McNeil

McNeil, Gretchen.  Ten. Balzer + Bray.  2012. ISBN 0062118781 (Note: This was an advanced review copy)

Reader’s Annotation: The exclusive party on Henry Island was supposed to be a last hurrah before best friends, Meg and Minnie, go their separate ways as Meg goes away to Los Angeles for college. One by one people start dying and Meg must figure out who the killer is before she and Minnie are the next victims.

Plot Summary: this story is a retelling of Agatha Christie’s book And Then There Were None.  Meg and Minnie are best friends but Meg will soon be going to Los Angeles for college and Minnie will be staying behind.  Their friendship has become strained through Minnie’s emotional issues that make Meg feel strangled by their friendship at times and the fact that Meg and Minnie are in love with the same boy.  Hopes that this party will be a great chance to have a last bit of fun are dashed when a girl commits suicide (or so they thought) and then slowly the body count begins to increase. Meg must figure out who the murderer is but is there anyone she can truly trust on the island?

Critical Evaluation

I am a huge fan of Agatha Christie’s book And Then There Were None and it creeped the pants off of me and had me guessing what would happen in the end all through out the story.  Ten was an enjoyable read but not quite on the same level.  Happily it is not a straight retelling of the story and McNeil adds her own flavor to the story like basing the deaths off of a teen’s diary instead of the children’s nursery rhyme.

Meg’s character is very likeable and you can’t help but feel sorry for what she goes through out of loyalty towards Minnie.  Meg is introverted and is forever grateful to Minnie for befriending her even to the point where Minnie is ostracized from her own group of friends.  Still you can’t blame Meg for wanting to break away and have a life of her own. The rest of the characters were harder to like but that was fitting for the storyline.

For those who enjoy thrillers and mysteries this is a great read and those who have not read Agatha Christie’s book before will probably enjoy this one even more.

About the author

Gretchen McNeil published her debut book, Possess, a YA paranormal story in August 2011.  Ten is her second novel which is due out in the Fall 2012.  In addition to writing McNeil also sings and is currently singing with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Berzerk according to her author page on Goodreads.

She is also the voice of Mary on the G4 show Code Monkeys and is active on vlogs and blogs such as YARebels, The Enchanted Inkpot and The Apocalypsies.

Genre

Horror/Thriller

Curriculum Ties

English

Book talking idea

The parallels and differences from And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.

Reading level

Ages 14 and up.

Challenge Issues

N/A

Why did I include this book?

And Then There Were None was a classic thriller/suspense read and this sounded like a great way to introduce a whole new generation of readers to the story line.  Personally I was curious to see how well it would be done and if the retelling would contain any original elements.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fiction, Horror/Thriller, Mystery/Suspense