Thursday, January 8, 2015

Review: When


WhenAuthor: Victoria Laurie
Series: Standalone
Released: January 13th 2015
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Length: 336 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

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 is a very impressive and incredibly compelling standalone book by Victoria Laurie. It’s the sort of book that pulls you in from its first sentence and refuses to let go. The opening chapter does an excellent job in making us care for Maddie, our protagonist, and at the same time, it gives us a great idea of what lies ahead. This suspenseful, surprisingly well-written book kept me on the edge of my seat throughout, which wasn’t achieved through cheap tricks and tropes, but through a story so well-built that it would leave anyone breathless.

Maddie has been seeing numbers on people’s foreheads since she was a baby, but it wasn’t until her father died that she realized what they actually mean. The numbers she sees are people’s death dates and she is never mistaken. She has also never succeeded in changing someone’s date, even though she tried on several occasions. But being who she is, she can’t help trying again, only this time her attempt puts her in a world of trouble.

From the start, Maddie won me over with incredible ease. Forced by her alcoholic mother to abuse her gift and read people’s death dates for money, Maddie still found a way to be herself and help where she could. She made smart choices from the start, and even when she ended up right in the middle of a murder investigation, she did the best she could for everyone. I felt everything she felt in this book, the grief over her father’s death, the shame over her mother’s drinking, her love for her best friend and her desire to help.

When has a movie-like quality to it and every scene is shaped to achieve its full potential. The tension builds slowly but steadily, all the way to a heart-stopping finale. The mystery is well-done, clearly the work of an experienced author, and it kept me guessing throughout. When the killer was finally revealed, I was completely taken aback, but it made sense in retrospect, which I think is the holy grail of crime fiction.

I adored the romance aspect of this book mostly because there was no romance, not until the very end. With everything going on around Maddie, pushing her into a relationship of some sort would have been a bit ridiculous, and I’m so happy Laurie chose not to take that route. As it is, the small glimpse of romance ahead was tasteful, well-timed and simply delightful. It’s just one of the things that make this book stand out.

In short, Victoria Laurie did a fabulous job with what seems to be her YA debut. Hopefully we won’t have to wait too long for her next book, but even if we do, I have a feeling it will be worth the wait.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.


26 comments:

  1. Yay! I'm so glad you loved this one too! And I completely agree about the romance. It would have felt really out of place while the plot was developing, but that ending was beyond adorable! :D

    ReplyDelete
  2. I most definitely agree! Who would have the time to think about love, when you have such a morbid insight? I can't wait to read this one!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've really enjoyed Laurie's Psychic Eye series, and it sounds like she hit this YA debut out of the park. Great review - I totally agree about the "holy grail of crime fiction". I'll definitely be checking this out.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh hah I just read a review of this on another blog! Maddie sounds like a lovely character-it's interesting because the other person hated the decisions Maddie made. I think I should just read this and find out myself!

    Lovely review, Maja <33

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've been quite curious about it and reading your review makes me want to read the book even more! I feel like I need to read more thrillers, YA or otherwise!
    Thanks for the great review, Maja!

    ReplyDelete
  6. We are review twins today, Maja, but my reaction was completely opposite to yours. Unfortunately, I had a hard time loving this book. There were just so many things in the book that bothered me, especially those lousy FBI agents. It did have an interesting concept though. I liked that there wasn't an romance either, but it would have been better if the mention of Aiden had been removed from the blurb because I went in expecting more, so I was disappointed a bit.
    I'm glad you enjoyed this, Maja. Lovely review!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I've been having a hard time with YA reads lately but I love the sound of this and the fact that it's a standalone! Sounds like a strong story and heroine. Wonderful review, Maya! :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yay for loving this! I must read this one now!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I just came from Nick's review Maja, so it's really interesting to read such a differing opinion of this one! I'm a little bummed there's no romance until the very end, I'm a romance girl at heart, but I do have to admit that sometimes there's no place for romance in a story:) Glad this worked so well for you!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I didn't bother requesting this one from NG because I was afraid it was the same old, same old teen suspense that didn't work, but I'm glad to know that it wasn't. I'm glad the romance wasn't forced and that you didn't figure out the prep until the end of the book. I'll be adding this one to my library order. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  11. This review makes me so happy! I adore her adult books so I HAVE to read this! I'm disappointed in the cover but I'm so glad the story inside is fantastic. I can't wait to read it!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hmm... I read Nick's reviews this morning and she was disappointed in the unrealistic feel, and I have to admit that would bother me as well. How did you fell about that part?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Well you had me at well written! I'm such a sucker for good writing that I'm now willing to read this one even though I wasn't really lucky with recent contemp reads. But anyhow I'm really glad you liked it :) Great review, Maja :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Ooh, I really like the set-up of this one and the fact that the romance comes in only at the end is a relief. This definitely seems up my alley and 4 1/2 Stars is no small feat from you, Maja. Thanks for putting this one on my radar, dear--I can always trust your judgement when it comes to new-to-me authors and debuts. :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. This sounds like a great book. I'm so glad you read it, liked it and reviewed it!! I can't wait to read it. I wasn't totally in love with the cover but with a review like that I'm so willing to read it! :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. I wasn't sure about this one, Maja, but still requested it. I've just finished the first chapter so it's good to know that you thought of this one so highly.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I can't wait to read this book. It's on my list very shortly! It sounds like such a compelling pace driven book. Great review, Maja!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I was curious to see how she would manage with this genre and in the end I really had a great time with it and it was interesting to discover the whole story. I'm curious for more.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I liked her character as well and the premise had me from the get go

    ReplyDelete
  20. Oh this sounds good and the fact that you said that she makes smart choices from the start really has me wanting to read it. Too often do I get frustrated with the protag and the stupid choices they make! Brilly review!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'm hearing nothing but good things about this one. Definitely going to have to add it to the tbr pile.

    ReplyDelete
  22. This book sounds so similar to Numbers by Rachel Wards! I am not sure how I feel about that but I was reassured when it seemed as though the books don't have similar plots. Just a similar premise. It's so hard to read a book though, when you've loved a book that had the same premise. Then there is so much compare and contrast happening in your head (or would be in mine at least), that's it's hard to lay back down and just go with it *sigh*.

    I am glad that you enjoyed it though, Maja! I will definitely keep an eye on this one! :)

    Fantastic review!

    Rashika @ The Social Potato

    ReplyDelete
  23. This sounds like an intriguing read, and your review gives me high hopes! Going on the TBR list!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I enjoyed this too and the concept is creepy. However the romance to me felt like a thread that didn't quite fit and wasn't needed. So glad you loved this too

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for stopping by and commenting. If you're a fellow blogger, I'll visit and return the favor as soon as possible. If your're using Google+ to comment, please make sure that your blog link is clearly visible on your profile.

Unfortunately, this is now an award and tag free blog, but I do thank you for your consideration.