Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Review: When by Victoria Laurie

Maddie Fynn is a shy high school junior, cursed with an eerie intuitive ability: she sees a series of unique digits hovering above the foreheads of each person she encounters. Her earliest memories are marked by these numbers, but it takes her father's premature death for Maddie and her family to realize that these mysterious digits are actually death dates, and just like birthdays, everyone has one.
Forced by her alcoholic mother to use her ability to make extra money, Maddie identifies the quickly approaching death date of one client's young son, but because her ability only allows her to see the when and not the how, she's unable to offer any more insight. When the boy goes missing on that exact date, law enforcement turns to Maddie.
Soon, Maddie is entangled in a homicide investigation, and more young people disappear and are later found murdered. A suspect for the investigation, a target for the murderer, and attracting the attentions of a mysterious young admirer who may be connected to it all, Maddie's whole existence is about to be turned upside down. Can she right things before it's too late?

I was intrigued by the premise of this book and the book did not disappoint.

In When, Maddie is a sixteen-year-old girl with the ability to see people's deathdates on their foreheads. After her father dies, her mother starts to hit the bottle pretty hard. With their household money going to her mother's drinking habit, her mother forces Maddie to do readings for people who would like to know their or someone else's deathdate. Things start to go south, however, when a reading for a client turns complicated and the client accuses Maddie of being involved in the murder of her child. As bodies turn up, the FBI starts scrutinizing Maddie and her best friend Stubby.

The question of whether or not you'd want to know when you die is one of those things you've probably thought about one time or another. Personally, I think it would be a good idea since you'd be able to prepare and if it's something preventable, you may be able to do something to prolong your life, but at the same time, the dread when the day finally comes must be terrible. I think that's why I found this book so interesting.

I like mysteries and thrillers, and this one is a regular whodunit. The mystery of who was actually doing these things, and if Maddie and her friend was involved somehow, kept me on the edge of my seat. The plot twists where usually pretty unexpected, which I appreciated since with most novels, I can usually figure out the solution or outcome by at least 3/5th of the way through the book. Red herrings abound and thankfully, it's not the type of red herring that you recognize right away.

I felt a lot of emotions while reading this book. I felt angry, sad, happy, intrigued, irritated, among others. Most of these was caused by my conflicting feelings towards Maddie. There were moments when I wanted to scream at her, the way you do at the girl in horror movies who goes outside even when she knows there's a killer out there, and there were moments when I felt bad for her. Mostly, though, my real issue with her was her being so emotional. There were a number of moments when she would start tearing up and I would find it irritating. It's a good thing she had adults who helped her do the right thing.

I'd say more but this book is the kind of the book you won't want to be spoiled for you. Let me just say that I think this would make for a great movie. I imagine someone like Chloe Moretz or Elle Fanning as Maddie. I hope Hollywood filmmakers take a look at this book. It would certainly be a good change of pace from the YA romances and action-adventure movies we've gotten recently.

Thanks to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for the e-ARC.


  1. The premise is intriguing.
  2. The characters feel real.
  3. The mystery isn't super easy to solve. 


  1. Maddie can get pretty emotional. 


  1. You want to take a break from YA romances and action-adventure books.
  2. You like mystery books.
  3. You like books that make you think "What would I do?". 



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