by Victoria Laurie
Published by: Disney Hyperion
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 thehow, 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?
When by Victoria Lane was an engaging paranormal with a neat concept. The protagonist has the ability to see everyone’s death dates. They hover around folks foreheads and even appear in photographs. The story shares what happens when a death she predicted ends up having her accused of foul play.
- The premise for When is interesting and a little creepy. Imagine knowing the date everyone will die. How Maddie came to do readings was believable and immediately allowed the reader to connect. It makes you ponder the questions, “Would you want to know your end date?”
- It is a standalone! In a sea of trilogies, series and serials it was fantastic to slip into a world and get a complete story.
- Maddie Fynn is an interesting character who struggles with her gift and dealing with her broken home life. Despite that, she is a good kid and tries to deal with her lot in life. She longs to be wrong, which is understandable. I immediately felt a connection to Maddie, and appreciated how realistic she was portrayed.
- Secondary characters are strong and added to the story. Stubby her best friend is both supportive and the catalyst that complicates things. The portrayal of Maddie’s mom and her disease was well done. I appreciate the way the author addressed it. From FBI agents, to the next-door neighbor Laurie gave them all unique voices and depth.
- The pacing of the tale keeps the reader engaged as Maddie struggles to clear names and keep her home life from falling completely apart.
- The author slowly increased the tension, with twists and turns. How people reacted as the case unfolded was realistic and a painful reminder of guilty to proven innocent. The final chapters will have the reader unable to set the book down. The conclusion was strong and left the reader satisfied.
- Police and FBI procedures are not exactly by the book here and while I suppose arguments could be made; I just rolled with it as the story was engaging.
- There is a love interest, and while it displays Maddie as young, and normal it did little for the storyline. It was just sprinkled in here or there. Romance is not a necessary ingredient for me, but the hint of one and minimal page time may disappoint some. Go into the story thinking no romance and all will be fine. While it served to lighten the intensity, it could have been cut during editing.
When was a fantastic paranormal young adult standalone and not to be missed.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
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