Book Review: Michelle Gagnon’s Don’t Turn Around

dont-turn-aroundMichelle Gagnon’s Don’t Turn Around

Noa, a victim of the broken foster care system, has ingeniously broken free from “the system” through her computer hacking abilities and has set up a nice life for herself…until she wakes up in a warehouse, wearing only a hospital gown and an IV. Using her street smarts and a spunk I wish I had, she escapes, but those who were holding her aren’t just going to let her go. The chase is on.

Believing that she cannot trust any authority figure, she works with her “hacktivist” friends and makes a chilling discovery: A new disease is afflicting adolescents, and there are people who would do anything to stop it – including experimenting on unwilling subjects.

When it comes to reading, I want something that will take me away from reality. I want to be someone else, be somewhere else. So when I review a book, these are the questions I ask:

• Did I identify with the protagonist, antagonist, or other character?
• Did I ‘buy in’ or believe the story could really happen?
• Did the world envelope me?
• Did my heart race?
• Could I put the book down… or did I have to keep turning pages?
• Did I think about the book when I wasn’t reading?
• Was the ending satisfying or full of #$%$?

The picture that Michelle Gagnon paints of the foster care system is, unfortunately, a reality. Not all foster care systems are that bleak, but there are problems that seriously need to be addressed worldwide. Noa is a character that I could get behind, rooting for her at every twist and turn. Her hactivist friend, Peter, comes from a well-to-do family, but even though he has pretty much every physical thing he could want, his life isn’t perfect either. These two come from completely different backgrounds and circumstances, but I can identify with both of them on different levels. I am totally in their corners.

I must admit that I rarely read a book more than once (Adams’s Watership Down is the only book that I’ve read more than twice), but I was so intrigued by the setting and circumstances in Don’t Turn Around, that I read it again. The second time was just as exciting as the first time, too. Another rarity for me: I finished it in one weekend (and my weeds in the front yard can attest to the fact that I didn’t do anything else the whole weekend except read). The ending, though, was greatly disappointing to me – only because I wasn’t ready for it to end! Yes, everything was tidy, no loose ends – normally what I would consider a very satisfying end, but I cannot wait for the sequel. Hurry up, Michelle! I need it now!

Contact your local independent bookseller to get your copy of Don’t Turn Around. Support your indies!

Or, if you simply cannot wait, you can get a copy from Amazon at

To keep up to date on Michelle Gagnon, check out her site on the web at

Michelle also blogs on two sites:

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