A lot of the time I feel like I have very different taste than most people. For example, I couldn’t wait to read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, the first book in the hugely popular series by Swedish author Stieg Larsson because so many of my friends loved it. I was so disappointed when I read it, though, because I was so bored I could barely make myself finish it. When I saw that heroine of Michelle Gagnon’s book Don’t Turn Around was billed as a teenage version of Dragon’s Tattoo’s main character Lizbeth Salander I almost put it back on the shelf. I’m so glad I didn’t, though, because I raced right through the novel in one night and now I can’t wait for the sequel. The book opens with sixteen-year-old Noa waking up on an operating table in an abandoned warehouse, having no memory of how she got there. Noa had been a product of the foster care system since she was a little girl and finally decided that with her computer hacking skills she could live on her own without anyone finding her. The problem with being on her own, though, is that once she escapes the warehouse she has no one to help her find out what happened to her. Luckily she has been part of an underground hacking league led by another teenager, Peter Gregory. Peter has also had his own problems with a couple of thugs breaking into his house and confiscating his laptop. Even worse, his parents aren’t sympathetic at all and seem to know the guys, leading Peter to think that his parents might be involved in some nefarious activities. Even though Noa and Peter both have some trust issues, they decide to team up to try to find out if their experiences are linked in any way.
Don’t Turn Around is extremely action-packed and takes place in and around Boston. The setting made the book even more fun for me, since I actually knew a lot of the places that Noa and Peter went. I also liked how the mystery unfolded and the fact that the book ended with a lot of questions answered while at the same time leaving some loose ends so that there is the promise of more books in the series. I especially liked the fact that Noa and Peter learn to trust each other as the book progresses, but the author didn’t put in an unnecessary love story which would have slowed down the fast-moving plot. I can see how people could draw comparisons between Noa and Lizbeth Salander, who is also a loner and a hacker, but I think Don’t Turn Around is a fresh, exciting thriller/mystery and I hope that it’s the beginning of a long series.