The real threat of today does not come from a foreign enemy, a natural disaster, or even a medical mystery. It lies in the bits and bytes of cyberspace, where crimes can be committed and identities erased faster than you can blink an eye. Those who navigate this modern-day battlefield are the true soldiers, and they are the catalyst for thriller author Michelle Gagnon’s first novel for teens, Don’t Turn Around. Knowing how to manipulate the system has kept sixteen-year-old Noa alive. She has been in foster care for over five years, using it when she needs to and then escaping into online anonymity. When she wakes up on a cold, metal operating table in a warehouse surrounded by doctors, guards and thugs, her survival instincts kick in and she escapes. Without money, clothing, or access to her online identity, Noa needs help fast.
Peter is a rich kid, the only surviving son of a lawyer and an investment banker. After his brother’s death, he retreated to the world of online gaming, eventually becoming accepted into the brotherhood of elite online hackers and creating the group ALLIANCE. While breaking in to in his father’s desk one night to help himself to the bourbon hidden there, Peter finds a set of files that seems to allude to large sums of money and terrifying medical experiments. Before he can discover more, the door is smashed in and a small army of black-suited men throw him down, grab his laptop, and tell him to give a message to his parents. Peter calls on ALLIANCE for help, and Noa answers his call, for a price. The two soon discover that they are running from the same enemy, and Noa is one of the test subjects in a twisted plot to cure PEMA, the disease that killed Peter’s brother.
Echoes of Lisbeth Salander ring through in Noa, a computer genius with few social skills who is distrustful of anyone in authority and who prefers to be alone. Gagnon twists threads of corporate espionage, bioterrorism, and government corruption into an edge-of-your-seat thriller. A good choice for teens who are asking to read Stieg Larsson or for readers who like a good corporate thriller that is not too graphic.