Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Don’t Turn Around Audio

Don’t Turn Around Audio

Michelle Gagnon
For ages 13 and up
Unabridged audiobook (Digital)
Performed/read by: Merritt Hicks
HarperAudio, 2012 

Noa’s parents died when she was just a little girl, and she has been in and out of foster homes and group homes ever since. She has even been in juvie a few times. For some time now Noa has been living alone in an apartment that she pays for. It turns out that Noa has a natural affinity for computers in general and for hacking in particular. She creates a fictitious foster family for herself, works for companies helping them to keep hackers out of their websites, and goes to school. All in all, considering what has happened to her already, Noa is doing well.

   Then one day she wakes up and finds herself lying on metal table with an IV in her arm. She has a big scar on her chest and cannot remember how she came to be where she is. Being a survivor, Noa manages to get out of the warehouse where she wakes up and makes a run for it. She very quickly realizes that whoever took her and operated on her wants her back. Her kidnappers are pursuing her and she cannot go home or access her bank account. They, whoever they are, have her IDs and everything else that she holds dear.

   For some time now Noa has been helping out on a hacktivist website, doing her part to expose people who prey on helpless people and animals. The website, /ALLIANCE/, was created and is run by a teenager called Peter, a young man who has lived a life of lonely privilege and who likes the idea of punishing the people who target those who are defenseless. When Noa gets a message from Peter asking for her help she responds and they meet for the first time.

   One day, bored Peter decides to break into his father’s desk to see what he is up to. He finds something that captures his interest, a file labeled AMRF. In the file something called Project Persephone is mentioned. Peter starts trying to find out what he can about AMRF, and soon after men break into his home, take his computer, and threaten him. One of the men, Mason, clearly knows Peter’s parents. Peter decides to appeal to Noa for help, saying that he is willing to pay her to find out what she can about AMRF. Desperately in need of money, Noa takes the job, not realizing that the men who are perusing her, and the men who came to Peter’s house, are one and the same. 

   After Peter gets kicked out of his house by his furious father, he and Noa join forces. Together, with Peter’s friend Cody, they start to put together the pieces of the puzzle and find out that AMRF and Noa’s abduction have something to do with PEMA, a disease that is killing teens and that has no cure. Someone is experimenting on street kids and now they want Noa back. Within her she holds answers and they will do whatever it takes to retrieve her.

   The plight of street kids is something many people prefer not to think about. Set against the backdrop of an exciting thriller, the author tells the stories of these kids, showing her audience what it is like to be a child who is homeless, friendless, and preyed upon. There have so few people who are willing to help and defend them and sometimes the only people they can depend on are street kids like themselves.