Author: Victoria Laurie
YA – Realistic Fiction with a Twinge of Psychic Ability
Release Date: January 13, 2015
So tell me this. Would you want to know the date of your death in advance? Not how or why or any of the details, just the date? Would you want to use that time to prepare, get your affairs in order, and hug your loved ones a little tighter? Or would you prefer to be blissfully ignorant, letting nature run its course?
What if someone came up to you, claiming to know that date? Trying to warn you so you would be aware? Would you write them off as a fluke or a quack? Would you pay for a professional reading? Or would you get angry?
As far back as she can remember, Maddie has noticed strings of numbers hovering above the foreheads of the people she encounters. She can also see those numbers on television and in photographs. But it isn’t until her father dies in the line of duty that her family figures it out – those aren’t just any numbers, they are each person’s unique death date. As her mother succumbs to the pull of alcohol, she relies on Maddie to do professional readings to bring in additional income. But after Maddie warns a mother that her son’s death date is the following week, the son is brutally murdered – and Maddie is implicated.
Reading this novel was like watching an episode of CSI with a supernatural, psychic twist. It was full of drama and action and plenty of those coincidences that you just can’t fully believe, but you’re more than happy to accept because they move the action along. It was light and fast-paced and didn’t take very much time at all to read. And it had the added bonus of being just thriller-y enough to freak me out when I was lying in bed at night, wondering who the murderer was.
Just like watching those uber-dramatic crime shows, though, I often found myself wondering why the main character was so dumb sometimes. Seriously. When your lawyer uncle tells you not to do something because you’re being investigated for murder and it could make you look even worse, you don’t do that thing. You don’t knowingly put yourself in danger. You don’t implicate yourself even more. Just like the helpless main character in a horror movie always walks into the dark house alone asking “Who’s there?”, sometimes Maddie wasn’t the brightest crayon in the box. But she was fiercely loyal and passionate and persistent, so I guess that’s something.
YA murder mysteries/thrillers aren’t really a thing these days. Today it’s all about sparkly supernatural vampires, magical boarding schools, zombies rising from the grave, fantasy assassins, and horrific future dystopias in which kids are pitted against others or the government in order to survive. We don’t see enough thrillers for teens, and that’s not a good thing. Because sometimes you just need a light, chilling read like When. Even with its flaws, it’s unique, with a hint of romance, and plenty of action to lure even the most reluctant teen. And that’s definitely a good thing.