Published by: Disney Hyperion on January 13, 2015
Genre: Crime, Mystery, Paranormal, Thriller
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 » [which is crazy, because OBVIOUSLY it wasn’t him, right? But the author planted this seed of doubt in my head and I couldn’t not go along with it! « Hide 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 » [Maddie went through her entire life with the numbers NEVER changing. Then suddenly when she can save someone’s life, the numbers flicker. Then they start flickering/changing for multiple people. If this happened, then surely it was like this her whole life (the idea that there is no “destiny” and your fate can change based on your choices and circumstances) but how come she had NEVER seen it in like all her 13 years of remembering the numbers? I just couldn’t buy that. She must have seen it at some point in her life before this story… but she hadn’t. It just appeared like this in a convenient moment. Bleh. « Hide 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.