Don't Look Now

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Don't Look Now Book Poster Image
Don't Turn Around sequel maintains hacker thriller suspense.

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Don't Look Now presents a fairly realistic picture of computer hacking strategies, without providing information that could be abused. The teen characters are more adept at breaking into servers than their real-life counterparts probably would be, but the book emphasizes that online security is not always as impregnable as people sometimes like to pretend.

Positive Messages

Don't Look Now emphasizes that resourceful individuals can resist the underhanded tactics of corrupt corporations and governments. Even disenfranchised teens can make a difference, if they're organized and brave enough.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Noa and Peter are the dual protagonists in Don't Look Now, and each is brave, resourceful and empathetic. They both put themselves in physical danger when their friends and loved ones are threatened. As they fight against the corporations that seek to exploit them, they sometimes use illegal methods to achieve their goals, and they're sometimes forced to use violence (although they always try to do only temporary damage).

Violence

There's a large amount of violence in Dont' Look Now, but the teen characters strive to use it only as a last resort, for example employing non-lethal weapons like tasers instead of guns. Nevertheless, a corporate goon is tortured and beaten to death by one of Noa's compatriots. There are multiple gunfights, the use of nerve gas, a couple of instances of arson, and supporting characters are struck by bullets, sometimes fatally. Teens are also infected with a deadly fictional disease. The description of this mayhem is not particularly graphic, but the violence ratchets up significantly in this volume's climax.

Sex

Noa and Peter are attracted to each other, but they are thousands of miles apart. Peter's also hung up on his former girlfriend, and in one scene they end up in bed together (though it's not clear whether there's any sexual activity). Noa and Zeke are also attracted to each other and indulge in a little making out, although they're interrupted before things can proceed too far.

Language

"Hell," "damn," "bitch," "bastard" and "ass" are used with some frequency, "s--t" once or twice.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Noa's mother was an addict. Some of the runaway teens use drugs, but they are not allowed to be part of Noa's gang.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Don't Look Now, the sequel to Don't Turn Around, is a fast-paced, fairly realistic cyberthriller about teen hackers waging war against a sinister corporation that performs illegal medical experiments on unsuspecting runaways. There's a good deal of violence, including gunfights, the use of nerve gas, and instances of arson. Until this volume's climax, little of the mayhem is deadly. (An exception is the beating death of man.) The final scenes include many fatalities, among both the teens and the villains. The language is occasionally salty, with a "hell," "bitch," "bastard," "damn" and "s--t" here and there. The various teen characters flirt and sometimes make out with each other, but they're usually interrupted before things proceed too far. (Peter falls into bed with his former girlfriend, but it's unclear whether they engage in sexual activity.)

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What's the story?

DON'T LOOK NOW picks up where Don't Turn Around left off. Noa and her friend Zeke are in the West, on the run from the sinister corporation Pike & Dolan, which is using teens as guinea pigs in medical experiments. Back in Boston, Peter uses his hacker skills to feed Noa's team information about secret research facilities. Never really sure whom they can trust, Noa and Peter put themselves in grave physical danger to protect their friends and fight against a vast, well-funded conspiracy.

Is it any good?

Don't Look Now continues its predecessor's agreeable mix of physical action and technical wizardry. Noa and Peter are compelling protagonists, with complementary strengths and weaknesses, and the strategies they use to fight against Pike & Dolan are described with suspense and emotional feeling.

As the middle volume of a trilogy, Don't Look Now sometimes feels as if it's running in place, but there are enough reversals at the end to leave readers primed for the final installment.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the dangers of unauthorized snooping in computer databases. What should be the penalties for "hacking"?

  • What makes an effective thriller? How does this second installment compare with the trilogy starter, Don't Turn Around?

  • How can online information be used to hurt people? Check out our tips on keeping teens safe online.

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