Monday, March 30, 2015

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?

Picture and synopsis from

Overall Summary:
   Death note anyone? I liked this book. It is easy to understand, but still entertaining. Although not all of the characters felt all that developed, most of them where. There are some darker themes in this book, such as drug abuse, but it would still be reasonable for, say a middle school student. Now, I'm a highschool student and I still found this read good.
   As I said before, seeing death dates isn't that original of an idea. (Minor Death Note spoiler) For example, it has been done in the anime, Death Note, where one of the characters had the ability to see the name and death date of everyone. It was the first book I read with the concept though. I know there is more, but I haven't read them. The idea could have been developed on. There could have been a little bit more to her ability to make it unique and different from other's ability to see death dates. Maybe a person who had a different ability could have been thrown in to make the book a little more twisty.
  Reading through Maddie's point of view felt refreshing, because of her honesty. This book does contain some romance, but it is not the main focus. If you're looking for a romance novel about teen love this won't be something you are going to reading any time soon. I didn't really mind though. Not every book has to have a punch of romance in it. The ending was also surprising to me, but, of course I won't spoil it. In the end, if you want an easy read this would be a good book to pick up.

Spoilers ahead!! Don't read beyond this point if you don't want to be spoiled!!

 The murder of Tevin and the other victims was interesting. I thought I knew where the plot was going throughout the whole book and I was pleasantly surprised when my predictions weren't right. I didn't expect Payton to be murdered and Stubby to become a suspect. I would have liked it if the story followed stubby a little bit more. I wanted to know what happened in prison and I think it would have been good character development. I also didn't really understand why Stubby suddenly reverted back to his old self when he was in prison for a while. He hit a couple bumps in the road, but his transition back into regular life was unnaturally smooth. Maddie's mother's transition to drug addict to normal person was also a little ishy, but it's understandable that her transition was cut short because the book was close to ending. The ending itself did surprise me.
  I was, however expecting people's death dates to change. I would have been more surprised if it couldn't. There is a slight plot hole to his idea though. If Maddie can change people's death date by telling them about it or rescuing them from it, isn't it possible that she changed the death dates of some of her clients without knowing it? Her record as a reliable death day teller would go bad if someone didn't die when she predicted it. Imagine if they went out and spent all of their money because they thought they were going to die anyway. But anyways nothing is set in stone and (as like my favorite character would like to say), "Anything can change." For these reasons, I would give the plot a 8.

   The good side: she is honest; the bad side: she cries a lot. I can't really hold the crying part against her though. If I were a suspect in a murder and my mom was severely messed up, I would probably cry a lot, too. I liked her honestly though. We see a lot of characters that lie, do that the story takes a dramatic turn or it takes a toll on the main character's view of his or herself. Reading through an eyes of a honest character feels refreshing. When the other characters don't believe Maddie and you know that she is being honest even if it hurts, makes you really feel bad for the character. Other than honesty, she didn't have much going for her; not counting the seeing death dates thing. There was nothing that new: a shy, nice girl who doesn't have that many friends. The sides characters were good as well.
  I liked Aiden, Agent Faraday, Donny and all those characters as well. I liked Donny's determination and love for his niece, but I didn't always support the decisions he made when it came to how to deal with Maddie's living location. Agent Farady confused me a bit. I don't know what made him seem more open than the other Agent Watson. He was nicer though. The only character I didn't really like was Maddie's Mom.
   She was a bad parent, because of her drug addiction and the large amount of trauma she suffered after her husband died. The author did a good job of making her unlikable. There were places where there could have been more character development for her. When Maddie went to visit her in the hospital, her mom tells her to go away. I think it would have been good if her another eventually explained to Maddie why she turned her away. Maybe she didn't want Maddie to see her like how she was.
    The relationship between Maddie and Aiden wasn't really anything romantic. (In an odd way) The lack of relationship felt real, actually. Not every teen has the confidence to go up and talk to the guy or girl they have a crush on especially if they're shy. There wasn't a lot of chemistry between the pair though. For these reasons, I would give the characters a 8.5.

  At the end of the book, I was basically screaming it's Wes, it's Wes! He is the murderer! Boy, was I surprised. I didn't expect it to be the nice man Rick. The author did a good job of leading the audience away from the idea that Rick could be one of the culprits. Instead, she inserted Wes, who seemed like an obvious culprit. It was so obvious that it annoyed me (because I thought that he was the murderer). I wasn't expecting a surprise at the end and I expected to be pretty bored with the ending.
  Although the ending was surprising, I think the author could have dropped more hints throughout the story. I like it when there is some kind of plot twist in mystery novels, but the hints to reveal the real culprit is still there. It's like connecting the dots and maybe missing one dot then finding that you missed it at the end of a story. Doing a face palm feels nice every once in a while. The end of the book was a fairytale ending. My brain can't really decide if that's a bad thing or a good thing. On one hand, I'm happy that Maddie's life is going to be great and she'll have a happy life with Aiden. On the other hand, it would have felt more satisfying and realistic if the ending was a little less perfect. For these reasons, I give the conclusion a 9.
Overall Rating: 8.5

- Kalee

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