Letter Essay #3: Tyler Harris


A few days ago I finished reading the novel Don’t Turn Around, a 310 page mystery novel by award winning author Michelle Gagnon. Michelle Gagnon (Born in 1971) is an American Crime fiction novelist. Her best selling thrillers have been published in more than a dozen countries worldwide. Don’t Turn Around is the first book in the trilogy. I decided to read this book because the title intrigued me, and also library specialist Mrs. Quezada recommended it to me.

Sixteen year old Noa Torson (Hacker name: Rain) has been in and out of foster care for years, since her parents died in a car crash. Now living off the grid and trusting no one she uses her computer and hacking skills to stay safely anonymous and alone. But when she wakes up on a metal table in an empty warehouse with an IV in her arm and no memory of how she got there, Noa starts to wish she had someone to help her that she trusted. This is where Peter Gregory comes in. A rich kid and leader of a hacker group called Alliance, who needs people with Noa’s talents on his team. Especially after a shady corporation called AMRF threatens him and his families lives after looking into a project called Persephone. Will these two different characters meet and help each other? I guess you will just have to find out.

I was surprised, when after armed men break into Peter’s house after he was looking into their data, and took his computer, his parents seemed to be very easily convinced of what happened with little to no evidence, almost like they knew exactly like what going on. But after all of that, his parents were “treating Peter as if he had done something wrong (Page 54).” This surprised me, because there is supposed to be love between a kid and their parents, and there was no sense of that here. I think this was intentional though, because it establishes a baseline for the reader for what is to come next in their relationship, which if you read this novel you will see there is not a good thing to come.

I really liked the way the author included enough description in almost every sentence so that you could visualize everything that was going on in the story. One example of this is when the author says, “ the rooftop appeared jarringly modern, covered in an industrial light gray sheath that shimmered in the dark (Page 110-111).” This line occurs when Noa is once again escaping from the people who took her in the first place, and is in the middle of a rather high action scene, but this little sentence allows us to really be in her shoes for a moment, and see what she sees. It lets us make stronger connections to Noa, therefore making us care about her more, and really making us want to read on.

This novel reminds me of the Unwind series, because of the twisted plot lines and characters. For example the characters in both books relate, because they are all “unwanted” kids you could say, Noa being alone on the streets and peter being abandoned by his parents, and Connor in Unwind was given up by his parents. In addition to this, both main characters are leaders, Noa of a group who is trying to take down a bad company (I don’t want to give away too much), and Connor being the leader of the graveyard, a safehouse for kids in need.

Finally, I was interested in this passage, right after Noa escapes the warehouse she was in and needed to find out what had happened to her, and needed a new laptop. Michelle Gagnon writes:

“When she stepped through the doors into the cool white interior of the store, she was enveloped by a wave of calm. Funny how just seeing the giant logo of an apple with a bite out of it did that to her. For most people, home we represented by four walls and a roof. Not for Noa. She preferred a motherboard to a mother, a keyboard to house keys. Nothing was more comforting than the hum of a spinning hard drive (Page 36).”

What I love about this passage is that it really shows what kind of character Noa is, one of her main traits being independent. I think this is especially important at the beginning of the book, because you are still getting to know the characters. I also love how it uses that rich type of description like I mentioned previously to engage you in the story. The whole book is like this, which is why I would give it an 8/10 rating, a great rating for a great book.


Tyler Harris

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