Don’t Turn Around | Michelle Gagnon | Book Review

Sometimes I have totally weird dilemmas, that normal people would be all, yo that is absolutely not a dilemma Ms. First World Problems. Last year, in 2012, I received probably five copies of Don’t Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon and I was filled with GUILT! You see, if that many copies come in the mail for me, I take it as a sign from the universe that I should probably read the book. Of course I put off reading Don’t Turn Around until December when I had to work a very rare overnight shift. Then again, this review was written about 7 months after reading the book, LOL. So, lots of failing for me all around. Luckily it’s not like I forgot my reactions or anything PLUS I am in the middle of reading the sequel thus I feel like I could write a halfway decent review.

Don't Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon | Good Books And Good Wine

After her parents died, Noa Torsen was placed in the foster care system. It was not exactly a happy life or anything. As soon as she gained some hacker skills, she got out and started living on her own, making money as an anonymous consultant. All good things, however, must come to an end. You see, one day Noa wakes up on in a warehouse, on a table with an IV attached to her arm. She’s been experimented on. She then runs away and comes across another hacker with skills that equal hers – Peter. Peter is the son of some very wealthy adults. He has a pretty great life, until one day he goes a little too far with his hacking and basically uncovers the corruption of this very large corporation that’s operating on kids. And basically, that’s the gist of the plot and if I am wrong, it’s been like 7 months I have a great excuse, ha ha.

I did not actively dislike Noa or Peter. I actually remember really thinking Noa was a total badass because she has these mad hacker skills you guys. I also remember feeling super bad for Noa because of her crappy life situation and how it’s not like she made bad life choices or anything. As for Peter, I remember not really feeling a whole lot for him in Don’t Turn Around. He was not a character I identified with. Instead I was like, oh yeah, he’s cool I guess, but I don’t really feel all that invested in him. So really, I guess the point I am trying to get across is that I cared more about Noa, but overall I was not terribly in love with the characters.

It’s kind of hard for me to classify Don’t Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon. It takes place in our world. There are no paranormal mythical creatures. However, it is not contemporary. So I suppose you could just straight up call this book a conspiracy thriller. Is that a category? Anyways, there is this disease in the book that only affects adolescents called PEMA. It is a very fatal, very bad disease. It’s also the hinge around which the book pivots. There is no cure or anything and the whole purpose of abducting the kids is to find a cure for PEMA. Straight up, diseases will always have me sitting up and paying attention. Fortunately, this book does deliver on the disease front.

After reading three Gagnon books, I have come to realize that there’s a distinctive writing style. While it is not my favorite overall, it is not awful either. Her books have this race against the clock pace which really lend to late night reading. The action and the plot come across as much more emphasized than the characters, which again is totally fine. Not everyone wants to read a character study. I honestly think that this series will work for kids who are reluctant readers and who would rather watch a high octane movie. There are not exactly a ton of dull moments when it comes to Don’t Turn Around and overall I am glad I took the time to finally read one of the many copies I received as it totally did entertain me and keep me awake during my overnight shift.

Disclosure: Received for review

Other reviews of Don’t Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon:

Alice Marvels – “an intense, finish-in-one-sitting hacker thriller
Xpresso Reads – “Wildly exciting with never ending action
Jenna Does Books – “Yes geeks, eat your heart out. They are talking to YOU in this book.”

Books by Michelle Gagnon:

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I love the idea that Noa is a hacker! There aren’t enough female protagonists who are involved with computer programming, etc and I think this is such an inventive concept. From the sounds of things this novel focuses more on plot than character development, which might be a problem for me as the latter is key to my enjoyment of a story. I hate to say it but both Noa and Peter sound a little like formulaic stock characters in a typical action story. That said, sometimes you’re in the mood for this sort of action-packed thriller, so I certainly won’t rule out reading it! 🙂

  2. I remember reading this book and thinking hackers were the coolest people ever. Like, I think I can credit this book to me finally taking the steps to starting to learn stuff like HTML, CSS, and currently Javascript. I love its high action pace. I know what you mean by it’s not a character study, but it’s thrilling and I also stayed up late reading it. I’m also the type that loves action movies so this book was kind of perfect for me. The one really weird thing I noticed is that for the longest time, I called this book “Off the Grid” in my head. That’s the part of the cover that stuck with me. Heh.

    Anyway, I don’t think you enjoyed this book as much as I did but in the least you were entertained. 🙂

  3. Seven months? O_o

    I would be lucky if I remember that I’d read it by that point.

    Noa was pretty badass. Peter was pretty meh.

    The narrator for this one was awesome, but the book was just sort of okay, I think, in and of itself.


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