Don't Turn Around, the first book in the PERSEFoNE trilogy by Michelle Gagnon, follows hackers Noa Torson and Peter Gregory as they find themselves embroiled in a dangerous plot that is leaving children dead all over the country.
Noa wakes up on a metal operating table one day, completely unaware of what happened to her or how she got there. With a deep distrust of all authority figures, stemming from a particularly scarring time spent in the system, Noa makes a run for it and discovers that once you start running from the people who captured her, you can never stop.
Peter Gregory is the found of an Anonymous-esque hacker group known as /ALLIANCE/, and his curiosity becomes his undoing. After stumbling across some papers in his father's office that seem suspicious, Peter is accosted by men who make it clear that if he keeps digging, he will regret it. Turning to one of the hackers he had interacted with before on /ALLIANCE/, Peter is drawn into the deadly struggle Noa has found herself in and they both team up in order to get to the bottom of why the big men with guns seem so determined to have her back in their laboratory.
Noa is a very smart heroine, someone who has spent years living on her own and fending for herself. She is calculating and cautious, and it's refreshing to have a heroine that doesn't always need saving every five seconds. When bad things start happening to her, she doesn't crumble and hesitate, she starts finding a way out. Peter, while not as skilled as Noa at hacking, is really more of a behind the computer kind of guy. While he does help Noa out of her messes, it's interesting to see how Noa is much more adaptable than he is on the run.
The only unfortunate aspect of the novel is just how much time they spent on Peter and Amanda's relationship. While Noa was in the thick of her multitude of daring escapes, Peter was left whining about Amanda for chapters on end. Other than that, the pacing in this novel was spot on, and it was an easy book to read in one sitting. The characters were likable, and the situations were exciting enough that you keep flipping the pages and are done with the book before you even realize it.
PERSEFoNE is Gagnon's first YA series, with the second book, Don't Look Now, released last year and the third and final book, Don't Let Go, released earlier this week.
Similar Works: False Memory by Dan Krokos, Altered by Jennifer Rush, The Brokenhearted by Amelia Kahaney, Blackout by Robison Wells