ARC Review: When

When by Victoria Laurie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Release date: January 13, 2015

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?

When has quite an interesting concept – Maddie can see when a person is going to die, kinda like the Shinigami (reapers) in Death Note. So, when a young person whose death she predicts turns up murdered, she gets into trouble with the police, since she looks like the suspect. More than the paranormal aspect of it, the mystery is emphasized, leading to an interesting hunt for the perpetrator. The plot doesn’t go the usual teen detective route either, rather focusing on the implications such an accusation has on her and her best friend’s life. She is bullied, and stalked, and constantly underestimated. The authorities are skeptical of her abilities, and she is out to prove her innocence as well as her friend’s.

Overall, the plot and subject matter was handled very well; innovative in execution, in fact. Maddie gets through it all with the resilience of a strong YA heroine, and also saves the day. Her situation with her mother is also kind of rough, and she has learnt to take care of herself for quite some time. The mystery, well, was out of left field and left me surprised, which is a good sign. I would really love to read more of this world, and what the last line of the book meant for the future. Also, some insight into how she has this power would be quite good, although that is not really the main focus of this novel. It is more of a mystery with a paranormal twist, which reminds me of The Body Finder series. Recommended read!

Received an ARC from Disney Book Group via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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