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Hack The Planet

Like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, minus the sex and IKEA references.

Hack The Planet

BOOK REPORT for Don't Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon

Cover Story: Totally '90s
BFF Charm: Maybe
Swoonworthy Scale: 2
Talky Talk: Straight Up
Bonus Factors: Hackers, Conspiracy
Relationship Status: Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am

Cover Story: Totally '90s

This cover isn't terrible, per se. It looks like something you'd see in the "Thriller" section of the airport bookstore, but it's fine. There's just something about it that feels so '90s. Hmm. What could be it? The colors? No. The hand? No. The cyber grid? Maybe.

Or maybe it's the fact that I NOW HAVE AN ACE OF BASE SONG STUCK IN MY HEAD. DAMN YOU, COVER!

The Deal:

After bouncing around foster homes and stewing in juvie, Noa Torson (I KNOW, I know. But at least the rest of the names in the book are normal) has finally figured out how to live on her own, away from the prying eyes of social workers and the police. Thanks to her impressive hacking skills, she's got a steady income and takes part in an online community called Alliance, where she uses technology to help bring justice to perverts and other assholes who Do Bad Things. But when she wakes up on an operating table with no memory of how she got there or how she got a huge scar on her chest, her isolation goes from a blessing to a liabilty. On the run and desperate for cash, she agrees to take on an assignment from the head of the Alliance, Peter Gregory. Peter's trying to find out the secrets behind a company called AMRF and why something called Project Persephone has now made him the target of some very ruthless men. Noa and Peter form a begrudging partnership and quickly learn that AMRF is tied not only to Noa's mysterious surgery, but to the disappearance of dozens of runaway teenagers. Now they must discover the truth behind the experiments and expose AMRF before others go missing... including themselves.

BFF Charm: Maybe

Noa and Peter are both good kids, but this book is way more about the plot than character development. Therefore, we never really got close. Plus there's the whole thing about how Noa is prickly and private, and Peter is kind of preppy and obnoxious, and while I was definitely rooting for them to take down AMRF, I couldn't really picture us grabbing some Sbarro at the food court and gossipping about our secret crushes. BUT! If Noa and Peter wanted to take me to a sweet hacker club with, like, roller bladers and video games and shizz, I WOULDN'T SAY NO.

Swoonworthy Scale: 2

It's obvious that there will eventually be something between Noa and Peter, but Michelle Gagnon made a wise decision by not rushing it. Noa is kind of an ice queen, due to her foster kid emotional baggage, and Peter just got dumped by his self righteous prig of a girlfriend, Amanda. As they learn to trust each other, Noa and Peter form a friendship with a few flashes of chemistry, but the real action in this book isn't the horizontal kind.

Talky Talk: Straight Up

Gagnon doesn't mince words, so there's no flowery text or abundance of emotion to trip you up as you race through the pages. The dialogue is realistic and the pacing is quick, although it never really got my heart rate up. There's just enough hacker speak to make you believe that Gagnon knows what she's talking about without veering into Linux overload or cartoonish slang. (Although, as someone who thought Hackers seemed legit back in 1995, my opinion might be suspect.) Overall, this book feels written to be a thriller and nothing more, and I'm fine with that!

Bonus Factor: Hackers

Maybe it's because I was a YA in the '90s, but hackers still seem SUPER COOL to me. They're smart and weird and a little bit crazy, and while I'm sure most of them don't look anything at all like Jonny Lee Miller and Angelina Jolie, I couldn't help but picture Noa and Peter in sleek vinyl outfits as their fingers flew across the keyboard. ACID BURN!!!!

Bonus Factor: Conspiracy

I don't want to spoil anything here, but let's just say that AMRF is part of something much, much bigger. THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE.

Casting Call:

Mae Whitman as Noa

Thomas Lacey as Peter

Relationship Status: Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am

The other night, I was out looking for some thrills, and this book got the job done. There were a few awkward moments when I realized that it reminded me of a former flame with a dragon tattoo, but we still had a relatively good time together. It wasn't the most exciting night of my life, but it certainly wasn't boring, and when this book calls me again for a sequel, I might be tempted to hack hook up with it again.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book from HarperCollins.  I received neither money nor cocktails for this review (dammit!). Don't Turn Around is available now.

Posh Deluxe's photo About the Author: Sarah lives in Austin, TX, where she programs films at the Alamo Drafthouse. Sarah enjoys fancy cocktails, dance parties and anything that sparkles (except vampires).