Michelle Gagnon's thrillers -- The Tunnels, Boneyard, The Gatekeeper, and Kidnap and Ransom -- come with blurbs from well-known writers at the top of the thriller trade, like Harlan Coben and Jeffrey Deaver. With DON'T TURN AROUND she's brought out a "young adult" thriller, with high-tension plot, compelling characters, and a techno motif that gives us a heroine and hero from that mysterious group we love to imagine: the top teenaged hackers.
When 16-year-old Noa Torson wakes up in a strange bed, her chest aching from a mysterious operation, and an IV dangling from her arm, instead of her trademark jade bracelet, she snaps into action far sooner than anyone around her expects, and in a matter of minutes, she's on the run. But from whom? And what's been done to her body -- and why?
From a background completely different from Noa's street-life self-taught hacker existence, Peter Gregory, wealthy but distressed teen, has only known Noa through the wall of online anonymity. But he knows enough to respect her, and to believe her, even though the story she's engaging him in is scary, powerful, and increasingly dangerous.
The guy scanned the room, eyes glancing off Noa. Had they hesitated before continuing on to the girl behing the counter?This is the fiction you've been waiting for if you picked up the YA medical thriller Virals from Kathy Reichs but regretted the lack of daring science and Internet stuff in it; or the one you realized might get written after you got a look into We Are Anonymous, the (presumably) nonfiction book that explores the world of hackers. Underneath all that, it's a girl-and-boy suspense thriller with plenty of chase scenes and risk.
Maybe she was being paranoid, but it felt like a weird tense energy had overtaken the room. Like something really, really bad was about to happen.
Amaze the teen in your life: Give a copy of DON'T TURN AROUND. She or he will be totally amazed that you get this kind of thing.
Oh yeah -- make time to read it yourself, before you give it away. If you've ever savored a medical thriller, a fierce work of speculative fiction, something by Michael Crichton, or (admit it) Jules Verne or Madeleine L'Engle, DON'T TURN AROUND may delight you. I like it -- and I absolutely endorse the cover art, which to me feels like Psycho updated.
One last note: Is a thriller a mystery? After you read this one, let me know how it's shaped your opinion.