Review: When by Victoria Laurie

WhenWhen by Victoria Laurie
Published by: Disney Hyperion on January 13, 2015
Genre: Crime, Mystery, Paranormal, Thriller
Pages: 384
Source: NetGalley
Book Details
Rating: ★★★★½

Pretty Little Liars meets Medium in this fast-paced thriller and fantastic YA debut from a New York Times bestselling author.

Maddie Fynn is a shy high school junior, cursed with an eerie intuitive ability: she sees a series of unique digits hovering above the foreheads of each person she encounters. Her earliest memories are marked by these numbers, but it takes her father's premature death for Maddie and her family to realize that these mysterious digits are actually death dates, and just like birthdays, everyone has one.

Forced by her alcoholic mother to use her ability to make extra money, Maddie identifies the quickly approaching death date of one client's young son, but because her ability only allows her to see the when and not the how, she's unable to offer any more insight. When the boy goes missing on that exact date, law enforcement turns to Maddie.

Soon, Maddie is entangled in a homicide investigation, and more young people disappear and are later found murdered. A suspect for the investigation, a target for the murderer, and attracting the attentions of a mysterious young admirer who maybe connected to it all, Maddie's whole existence is about to be turned upside down. Can she right things before it's too late?

WOAH! When totally ROCKED! Let me put this in perspective for you… I was struggling to get through Love and Other Theories. Like, really struggling. It took me two or three days just to get to 40%. It sucked. Then I got approved for When on NetGalley and I decided to switch gears immediately. I tore through Death Gate in less than a day! I stayed up until 2am finishing this epic book!

I guess the best part about When was how freaking thrilling and un-put-downable it was! I had no idea who the killer was and the book kept me guessing constantly. There were SO many twists and turns! Every time I thought we’d figured out who the killer was, there’d be another awesome twist that changed everything. I loved it! It was awesome how the author even made me start to doubt Maddie’s best friend ( View Spoiler » ).

To make things even better, When had no romance. I know, usually you don’t hear me say that like it’s a good thing, but in this book it was a good thing. The lack of romance let the mystery/thriller parts of the book completely dominate, as it should have. There is a little bit of a high school crush in When but it doesn’t play a bit role at all. It’s basically just mentioned in the beginning, in the middle, then again at the end. It tied the story together perfectly, without turning it into a romance. I’ll admit I was worried at first when I read this at the beginning:

“I’d never spoken to him, and I’d only see him a handful of times each year when his high school played against mine, but each time I felt inexplicably drawn to him. It was as if I knew him. As if I’d always known him.”

I was like “Shiiiiiit!! Insta-love!! Kill me now!” But thankfully, it basically ends there. It’s just a crush. It doesn’t become this book-long insta-love romance thing. Phew. It turned out just fine. Crisis averted.

My only complaint about this book is actually kind of petty. I thought it was pretty convenient how View Spoiler »

Overall, When was a fantastic read and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved it. Huge props to the author for pulling me out of my mini slump. It’s books like this that make me fall in love with reading again.

The Verdict


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  1. Haha, my review sounds pretty much like yours x) Save for the fact that I didn’t find it petty in this way, since Maddie saw most of the people only once, so how could she keep track of any numbers changing? I see your point, though. However, if it had happened before, she wouldn’t be this insecure freak show, but much rather her mother would have put her through the media circus, no? Plus, it seemed like she had to work towards this flickering, or she wouldn’t get to see all the extra numbers in the last scene — which didn’t happen before either.

    Caro @ The Book Rogue recently posted: January Releases on my hitlist
  2. Yay! I loved this one too! And I was oddly happy about the lack of romance, but then that super adorable ending happened and made me cry!

    I do agree that the *spoiler* was super convenient, but I didn’t mind it at all. Maybe she just hadn’t tried hard enough before, so it didn’t happen until now? I don’t know.

    Angie F. recently posted: Favorite Book Titles of 2014
  3. Okay, you have OFFICIALLY made me excited for this book. Like, wow. I love mystery and thrillers and have always found myself disappointed when books advertised as are actually romance-dominated, making everything else pale in comparison. The fact that it has none (OMG YESSS! FINALLY) is making me giddy! I received a Netgalley Widget of this a while back from the publisher, but the cover made my shy away. I am now going to take advantage of that and read this ASAP!

  4. A YA book without romance?? Say whut?? I’m interested already but damn that premise sounds amazing! That would be terrifying to see death dates over people, I have to read this!! Awesome review, Ashley. When I saw this on GR, I paid no attention to it but so excited now!

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