Review: When

Posted May 6, 2015 / Book Reviews / 3 Comments

Review: WhenWhen by Victoria Laurie
Genres: Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal, Young Adult
Published by Disney-Hyperion on January 13th 2015
Format: Audiobook (336 pages) • Source: Audible
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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 deathdates, 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 deathdate 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?

thoughtsI’m sorry for the inevitable rant that this review is going to become.

I was immediately intrigued by the premise of this book before it was released and thought it’d be a solid one to listen to on Audible. I was definitely wrong in that, and now I’m wondering how much the format of the book impacted my rating and feelings. Would it have been different to read this in print, or did I reaaaally just not like the book at all?

Anyway, this book was pretty painful to listen to for a variety of reasons:

THE AUDIOBOOK NARRATOR. This is certainly my biggest gripe, hence the debate above. The narrator read so fucking slowly that I wanted to speed up the narration. (Yes, I know that’s possible on Audible, but then the person gets a squeaky mouse voice.) She had the weirdest inflection on certain words and characters’ voices that I cringed so often. It can always be awkward when narrators try to change their voice for different characters, but this was just so bad.

THE MAIN CHARACTER. Maddie made me SO annoyed throughout the whole book. Coupled with the narrator’s young-sounding voice, Maddie was so damn immature and stupid sometimes I can’t even explain it. Her whining was so melodramatic; I rolled my eyes WAY too many times. I feel bad saying this because she went through so much, especially with the bullying from her classmates, but I can’t help it. Some examples where I wanted to punch my phone:

Lady at the school: *finishes reading Maddie’s GPA, birthday, full name, classes, etc.*
Maddie: “I now realize that she’s reading me my school transcript.”
— Really Maddie? She had to read your full name and personal information for a good three minutes before you FINALLY realized that she was reading you your own transcript? You’re not so quick, are ya?

Uncle Donny, who is a lawyer: “You’re not allowed to do X, Y, and Z because you need to keep a low profile until the investigation is over.”
Maddie: *gives him an attitude as if he has no idea what he’s talking about, even though he’s a lawyer and has done all of this before*
Maddie: *ignores him and does everything*

Detective Farraday: *explains how everything came together when the murderer was found*
Maddie: *acts surprised, for no reason, even though she already knew*

THE DESCRIPTIONS AND WRITING STYLE. I remember within the first couple of chapters, the book explained WAY too much about the town she lived in, the surrounding towns, how wealthy they each were, and other useless information about where things were located. There’s a chapter where Maddie takes her uncle to the school to show him where she got bullied and she’s explaining all these events in the past. Why wasn’t this just explained as it happened? I hate when I’m being told about something instead of shown it. The writing did not flow well together at ALL and it felt choppy. Nothing happened for the first half of the book! Two kids got murdered and she got blamed. Everything else that happened was just so boring and seemingly unnecessary.

THE ALCOHOLIC MOTHER. This whole plot point was frustrating. I get why her mom turned to alcohol, after her husband died, but there was no need for this to be a part of the book. Maddie is forced to grow up (I use that term VERY loosely) and take care of herself (and her mom) because she’s constantly drunk. Maddie has a chance to move in with her uncle and get away from it, but she decides to stay. I GET IT. I really do. But this book wasn’t really meant to be about family or the drama with her mom. It seemed like it was thrown in for extra drama instead of just making the rest of the plot well-rounded and interesting.

THE LOVE INTEREST. Okay, she decides she has a crush on this RANDOM boy from another school, Aiden, who she only sees a couple of times each year when their schools play each other in sports. She’s obsessed with him basically even though she’s never talked to him before. She has no reason to like him, especially THIS much. She sees him at Starbucks with some friends and a girl tries to give him her number. Maddie, even though she’s never talked to this dude, says that she literally wishes she was dead. YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW HIM! You shouldn’t say dramatic stuff like that about ANY guy, let alone one that you don’t know. At all. Just because another girl gave him her phone number. The ending of the book was the cutest part, and even then it was all very convenient (and something I predicted). It felt random until one little twist was revealed about WHY she was so obsessed with him. I thought that part was pretty cool.

THE ENDING. I kind of predicted who the killer was, even though I was convinced for a while that it was someone else. The whole thing was kind of cliche and boring.

Any positive thoughts?

Not really. I don’t have much to say. The very end was kind of cute, albeit cheesy. Again I can’t really say if reading the print version would have made a difference, but the audiobook was killin’ me. The reason this didn’t become a DNF was because I just wanted to know who the killer was. The action rose a little bit around the 80-90% mark, but otherwise not much happened. I was waiting for more victims or more drama or more SOMETHING but it was just so BLAH. This one got saved because of the action towards the end, the final ending of the book, and the intrigue of wanting to know who the killer was.

rating reportplot premise three-stars characterss two-stars writing style two-stars pacing two-half-stars feels swoons one-star addiction  two-half-stars


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