Author: Michelle Gagnon
Series: PERSEFoNE #1
Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Don't Turn Around is compared to The Girl with the Dragon's Tattoo, and I have to admit that it is a rather fitting similarity. A perhaps dumbed down, not quite as complex or dark young adult styled The Girl with the Dragon's Tattoo, but still a good novel for people to read that followed that series.
Noa wakes up, confused and rightly terrified. She's hooked up to an IV drip and can hear strange voices close by. She can't remember where she is or how she got there. When a doctor finally comes to see her, he tells her she's been in an accident, but Noa has enough critical thinking skills to realize that something isn't right.
As soon as Noa escapes, she is on the run and on a mission to figure out what the heck happened to her, setting the tone and the pace for the rest of the novel. Meanwhile, Peter is hacking his way merrily through other people's information when he stumbles upon some information that some very important people do not want him to have, which becomes clear to him quickly with a guy shows up and breaks down his front door.
Noa and Peter are seemingly connected through the group that Peter started for hackers called /Alliance/, and are linked when Peter calls upon Noa's hacking expertise to help dig more into this Persefone project that only has these strangers kicking in his door, but has his parents all worked up as well. On the run and in need of money, Noa decides to help Peter dig more into this mysterious group.
Seemingly unconnected elements and insignificant characters all wind up playing their parts in this debut novel of the series as the plot unravels, unfolds, and then becomes even more interestingly complex. While the plot revolves around the theme of teenage hackers, it has the element of a viral theme as well, as the PEMA virus is a majority concern in the world at the time and becomes increasingly important to the plot as they discover how deeply linked Noa may be to the Persefone Project and the PEMA virus.
While the characters do not seem completely developed yet, they are far from one dimensional and continue to gather strength as the narrative unfolds. And perhaps the hacking skills these youngsters possess is a little difficult for me to believe for 16-year-olds, especially one that has been in and out of the system her entire life and who doesn't seem like she would have had much access to computers in her foster homes, The Center, or juvie, it's still an engaging enough plot that I am willing to overlook the thought and not obsess over whether it is closer to fiction or nonfiction.
Don't Turn Around ends with adrenaline pumping through all circuits, so I am definitely excited for digging into Don't Look Now, which is enticing me easily from the bookshelf across the now.