*I received a free copy of When from Disney Hyperion via Netgalley. This has in no way influenced my voluntary review, which is honest and unbiased *When by Victoria Laurie
Published by Disney Hyperion on 13 January 2015
Genres: Mystery, Paranormal, Young Adult
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 the story about a girl who can see when people will die – the exact date of their death – but she doesn’t know what to do with the information, and suddenly she’s the main suspect in a murder investigation.
My When review:
The mystery with the serial killer is well done in When, and it was impossible for me to figure out who the killer was, and how it tied in with the fact that Maddie could see when people would die. Those dates, however, weren’t ever really explained, and Maddie didn’t figure out why she could see these dates, or what she was supposed to do about it. The writing is good, even if the voice was a little juvenile to me, it is, however a young adult story, and the heroine is seventeen, so this really is a personal observation. Written in past tense first person, the readers get to see what Maddie sees, and feel her anguish at her difficult situation both at home, at school and in general.
There wasn’t a lot of character development until the very end, and I would have enjoyed When more if there had been some changes to Maddie and the way she thought about things a little earlier on. There were also some other small things that didn’t completely add up for me, like Maddie stating that she didn’t watch much TV, but she spent quite some time on her couch, channel surfing.
I did get into the story of When, though, especially when it was obvious there was a serial killer in Maddie’s neighbourhood, things did become very interesting. The FBI quickly thought Maddie and her best friend Stubby were of great interest to their case, and it was scary to see how that impacted their lives negatively. I found it quite hard to suspend my disbelief when it came to the FBI’s involvement so early in the case, and I didn’t understand why they thought Maddie was really involved in some very violent deaths. Maddie’s life at home wasn’t good, either, her mom was always drinking, and used Maddie’s ability to see death dates as a means of earning some money… Seeing her mom taking advantage of her that way was very hard, and I was almost relieved when something happened to keep the mom away from home for a while.
Several of my fellow bloggers absolutely loved When, so you definitely shouldn’t take my word for it because I didn’t enjoy it that much.
Some of my favorite When quotes:
That’s another question I can’t seem to answer. How come I can see the exact date that someone will die, but nothing else about the how, where or even why? What good does it do to know the when, if you can’t know at least on of the other three?
They hover over the foreheads of everyone I see – even in a photograph or video, they’re visible to me. It’s why I don’t like going to the movies or watching a lot of TV. I know when every star in Hollywood will fall.
It was yet another example of how little Ma and I mattered to a world without Dad. He’d been our center, the glue that held us together and gave us purpose. his absence was greater than the sum of our parts, and I didn’t think we’d ever feel quite whole again.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: