Thursday, January 22, 2015

When by Victoria Laurie {review}

♦by Victoria Laurie
♦publisher: Disney-Hyperion
♦release date: January 13th, 2015
♦hardcover, 336 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦trade show 
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?

Review:  When is a page-turning murder mystery with a morbidly fun (is that a thing?) paranormal twist.  When reading a story about a person who can see death dates, it definitely begs the question, would you want to know? But this story touches more on what people do with that information once they have it. 

Maddie is a sweet kid, weighed down by the darkness of her gift and the guilt that she could have stopped her father’s death if she’d only known what the dates meant.  She wants nothing more than to someday help someone avoid an early death just by telling them their date, in hopes that they are extra careful driving that day, or get themselves to the doctor, or stay in to completely avoid whatever it is that takes their life. If only just to prove that a date can change—because she’s never seen one do it.  But her most innocent, helpful intentions suddenly go horribly wrong.

I think this would be perfect for younger teens, there’s no language that I can recall and Maddie and Stubby actually came across as a little younger than 16 to me, especially Stubby.  They had such a sweet friendship that gets tested to its very limits and had me rooting for them both to come out of the awful situation they found themselves in unscathed. They faced challenge after challenge with their classmates and teachers bullying, a caring but cocky uncle, her alcoholic mother, and two exceptionally unfair and cruel FBI agents.   The adults around Maddie were all unlikable to me, except for her kindly neighbor, Mrs. Duncan and one other surprising turnaround character that I ended up loving by the end.

The main issue I found with this one was the way the investigation played out and how the agents working on the case and almost every adult in Maddie’s school were made out to be so cruel and villianous to the point of being unrealistic. And everyone seemed to own the same shoes!  :)  The killer left a shoeprint that the cops used as evidence and it seemed everyone up for suspicion wore that same brand!  There were definitely some things that required some suspension of disbelief.  Still I couldn’t fault it too much ---hey, we often have to do that with TV shows, too lol---and the fast-twisting mystery made this a super quick and entertaining read.
Find Victoria Laurie online:  Website  •  Twitter  •  Facebook

Purchase When:  Indiebound  •  BookDepository  •  Amazon


  1. This sounds like an interesting read! Great review. :)

  2. I've seen the cover of When here and there, but never really knew what it was about. Now I find my interest piqued. Someone who can see the date of the day you die? I've never heard of that. I'm not sure how much I want to read When, but if I decide to do so, I hope I like it as much as you did! :D

  3. Bri (Books and Ashes)January 23, 2015 at 5:11 AM

    I've been a bit on the fence about reading When since I wasn't sure if it would actually work, but I'm thinking that I'll give it a chance when I get to pick it up! :)

  4. Yay :D Great review Becky. <3 I'm so glad you enjoyed this book. I do like the cover :) Though I haven't heard about the book before. Hmm. But the main plot thing, seeing death dates. I remember reading about that thing before. Think it was seconds before dying. Wonder if it was a Twilight fanfiction years ago. I cannot remember.. lol. But I think so :) (Okay, I know it is probably not the same at all, just made me think of it ;p) Thank you for sharing sweetie. <3

  5. When sounds really interesting. It would a creepy ability, but could be useful. I hope it turns out good!

  6. This looks really good! Nice review!

  7. This book has flown under my radar. It sounds very interesting, and that cover!

  8. The story sounds really original and cool! I would like to see how it plays out.