Don’t Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon

Don't Turn AroundDon't Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon
Series: PERSEF0NE Trilogy #1
Published by: HarperTeen on August 28, 2012
Genre: Mystery, Science Fiction, Technology
Pages: 310
Source: Purchased
Buy on AmazonBook Details
Rating: ★★★

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been a victim of the system ever since her parents died. Now living off the grid and trusting no one, she uses her computer-hacking skills to stay safely anonymous and alone. But when she wakes up on a table in an empty warehouse with an IV in her arm and no memory of how she got there, Noa starts to wish she had someone on her side.

Enter Peter Gregory. A rich kid and the leader of a hacker alliance, Peter needs people with Noa's talents on his team. Especially after a shady corporation threatens his life. But what Noa and Peter don't realize is that Noa holds the key to a terrible secret, and there are those who'd stop at nothing to silence her for good.

Filled with action, suspense, and romance, this first book in a new trilogy offers readers nonstop thrills.

A Young Adult sci-fi thriller book for computer nerds. YESSSS!! Where have you been all my life?

If you read my blog regularly or if you’ve at least seen my Bitchin’ Book Blog section, you probably know that I’m a huge computer nerd. I love coding websites, I love learning PHP (but I’m still a noob), I love watching my boyfriend write out complex code stuff that goes way over my head (I think it’s sexy), and I was one of only two people who signed up for the Computer Science class in high school. Hi, my name is Ashley and I’m a computer nerd. Don’t Turn Around called to me!

This book is insane. There’s conspiracy, crazy scary medical procedures, hacking, evil guys in suits, more hacking, and more hacking. It’s awesome O_O The cool thing about this book is that it keeps you guessing. It’s classified as a “mystery” because the whole point of the book is trying to figure out WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON!! The main characters Noa and Peter have to hack into web servers to steal information, then try to decipher that information, and figure out who the hell is trying to kill/capture them!

As a computer nerd, there were a few things about this book that didn’t quite fit that I couldn’t ignore. Most people probably won’t be bothered by these things, but as a computer nerd who has a boyfriend with leet programming/web developing skills, they were small details that irked me. 😛 They just made the story a little less believable for me, but anyone who’s less of a nerd than I am probably wouldn’t notice! Really, I’m just nit-picking. So just keep in mind that these will probably only jump out at you if you’re really into computer stuff!

Issue Why I didn’t like it
Noa uses a MacBook Pro for all her hacking. It’s perfectly possible to hack with a Mac, but it’s certainly not the norm. Most hackers use Linux because it gives them more control over the operating system.
Noa didn’t immediately recognize “WoW” as “World of Warcraft.” Any teenage computer nerd would immediately know what WoW means, especially when said in context (“It’s the name of my avatar in WoW”). Noa didn’t seem to know what it was at all, and even when Peter explained it was World of Warcraft, she clearly wasn’t that familiar with it, although she was at least able to identify it as “a video game”. WoW is huge in the online community. Even if computer nerds don’t play it, they all know what it is!
Apparently Noa had never heard of a domain name being stolen. This happens all the time in the online world. It can be done a variety of different ways, the most common probably being social engineering. I’m not even a hacker and I’ve seen this happen to websites I work with many times.

Okay, that’s enough of my nit-picking! Other than a few details, this book had some really interesting computer elements that I loved! I was fascinated by the Anonymous references, because I know some people who have gotten involved in hacktivism. And if you don’t know much about it, you’ll probably love reading about it. It’s interesting stuff! It’s all about people who ‘voice’ their political opinions through internet hacking, which includes defacing ‘evil’ corporation websites, organizing denial-of-service attacks, hacking into private servers to leak information that they feel should be made available to the public, etc. It’s illegal… but interesting.

Don’t Turn Around was actually a huge surprise for me, because it took a really unexpected direction.. but I loved it! I thought it was going to be all about computers and hacking and conspiracies, but I had no idea that Michelle Gagnon was going to throw viruses into the mix! I’m talking scientific disease viruses — not the computer kind! It kind of came out of nowhere, but it was great! I love books and movies about viruses. That’s probably why I like dystopian books so much, because they’re so often about viruses killing off the population and society having to rebuild. Don’t Turn Around combined my two loves: computers and viruses.

So why the three stars? Although I liked the characters, I never got hugely invested in them. I almost don’t even know how to explain it. I just felt a little distanced. There is also a lack of romance. I’m the kind of girl who likes a little bit of romance in all my books, and Don’t Turn Around was missing that. There is a bit of blushing and hints of a possible future romance, but other than that, it practically didn’t exist. Finally, the ending wasn’t very satisfying. I didn’t feel like there was much closure or resolution. I was left with more questions than answers and that frustrated me. I will definitely be reading the rest of the series when it comes out, because I’m dying to find out what happens, but I would have liked more of a wrap-up at the end of this book.

I loved this quote!! It’s kind of funny, but it totally resonated with me!

“You want to touch another hacker’s computer?” She arched an eyebrow.
“I know, I know,” he said, grinning. “We don’t know each other all that well yet, so it’s early to be sharing computers—”
Noa was loath to let anyone else touch her computer. It was kind of a geek thing, the way chefs brought their own knives to work. No one else handled the tools of your trade.
Don’t Turn Around, Page 222

When I see someone else on my computer, it’s like someone is looking into my soul. I feel naked and exposed. I feel like I need to supervise their browsing, or whatever it is they’re doing on my computer. It’s not that I have things to hide, it’s just that it makes me feel uncomfortable. My boyfriend is the only person I allow on my computer unattended, lol!

The Verdict


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I'm a 30 year old California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). My three great passions are: books, coding, and fitness. more »

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  1. OMG, I love you right now. The computer-nerd stuff you noticed was awesome. I wouldn’t have noticed it at all but because you did you went up like 3 cool points in my book, true story. hehe. I have seen this book around everywhere but the cover really turned me off and I am not a huge fan of sci-fi thrillers, but this actually sounds pretty cool. I might try it out.

    PS: You have already gained 5 cool points when I meet you and within two hours you told me how sexy it was when your guy talked code to you. I was like “Insta-bestfriend!!!!!”

    Jennifer Bielman recently posted: Spotlight: Crewel by Gennifer Albin
    1. Hahaha! I love you Jennifer! My boyfriend was talking code to me all morning when I asked him if he could make me a smarter Related Posts plugin ♥ ♥ *Fangirl sigh*

      The thing that is cool about this book is that it’s like two teens vs. the evil corporations. It’s the kind of thing that would probably never happen in real life outside of the online world. It’s fun to think about!

    1. That’s great! If you’re not too bothered by the lack of romance and computer things, then you’ll probably love this book! The mystery, action, and excitement are all awesome aspects of the book and make it a great read! 🙂

  2. Loved the review Ashley! 😀 I’ve actually been hearing lots of people say they couldn’t really connect with the characters. And I’m a romance girl too so the lack of romance will probably bother me. >.<

    As for the computers, I think it'll really interest me! I'm not a huge computer nerd, but I think it may be possible in the future for me to grow into one. 😀 Some of the things that bothered you probably won't irk me but I think it's so cool that you were able to point them out! xD

    1. Yeah, the lack of romance is lame. 🙁 Give me kissing and swooning and flirting and blushing!!! YUM!

    1. Oh my gosh, Little Brother sounds awesome! Holy crap. That sounds like a thriller, action, hacker movie LOL! Definitely going to check that one out — thanks!!

  3. Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm in all the computer-nerd stuff 🙂 Your review is so energetic and I love it! Have you read the “Don’t Turn Around” short story called “No Escape”? It’s free and I believe it’s offered on kindle and kobo right now.

    Henrietta recently posted: Swipe – Evan Angler
    1. I downloaded it but I haven’t read it yet. 🙂 I’m not sure when I will, but hopefully soon!

      ..too many books, not enough time LOL!

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