Don't Turn Around Book Poster Image

Don't Turn Around



Exciting, nonstop techno-thriller raises big issues.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Don't Turn Around deals fairly realistically with the subject of computer hacking. It certainly doesn't provide step-by-step instructions for online mayhem, but the author takes care to keep the story mostly within the realm of possibility.

Positive messages

The characters find the courage to continue their investigation in the face of mounting physical and emotional threats. The novel emphasizes working together for the common good and standing up to people and organizations that subvert personal freedoms and actively harm the unprotected.

Positive role models

Peter and Noa, the two main characters, engage in semi- and outright illegal computer hacking, but they do so mainly to protect themselves from the shadow forces that are actively seeking to harm them. At first understandably focused on their own predicaments, they come to realize that the injustices extend far and wide, and they work together in the face of great danger to save whomever they can.


Although suspense is high throughout, there's not a lot of physical violence. Peter takes a beating, there's a shootout, and news of the death of a secondary character is relayed second-hand. Some body parts are disposed of in a disturbing, somewhat nauseating fashion.


It's implied that Peter and his former girlfriend were physically intimate. There's a spark of attraction between him and Noa, but neither has the opportunity to act upon it.


Infrequent swearing includes "bastards," "hell," and "screw you." In a couple cases, stronger language is conveyed via acronyms like "FU" and "WTF?"

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Peter, a teenager, drinks a little bit at home. The brother of his girlfriend, Amanda, died of a drug overdose.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Don't Turn Around is a fast-paced techno thriller featuring characters willing to break the law to save themselves and protect others. The novel raises questions about online privacy and medical experimentation. There's some violence: a beating, a shootout, the death of a secondary character that's relayed second-hand, and body parts disposed of in a disturbing fashion. Language includes "bastards," "hell," and "screw you," as well as acronyms like "WTF?" and "FU."

User reviews

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

After years in the foster care system, 16-year-old Noa wakes up on a table with an IV in her arm and no idea how she got a big, fresh scar on her chest. As she tries to learn the truth about what's happened to her, she teams up with Peter Gregory, a high school \"hactivist\" who has received sudden, brutal attention from some very scary corporate security types somehow connected to his neglectful parents. As Noa and Peter team up to protect each other, they uncover evidence of a conspiracy that involves a worldwide epidemic and the disappearance of hundreds of teens.

Is it any good?


DON'T TURN AROUND is an exciting techno-thriller, full of nonstop action from its opening scene. Peter and Noa, are well defined and reasonably realistic characters, despite their phenomenal computing skills. The villains, however, lack complexity, and Peter's parents seem one-dimensional in their awfulness, even though some explanation is given for their bad behavior. Although not advertised as the first book in a series, the novel ends with enough loose ends to suggest that the story will be continued.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how a greater dependence on information technology can lead to a loss of individual privacy. What do you think about computer hacking? Is it always wrong? 

  • What makes Don't Turn Around a thriller rather than just a mystery? 

  • Should parents keep secrets from their children? In what circumstances is it better to hide the truth rather than discuss it openly?

Book details

Author:Michelle Gagnon
Topics:High school, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:August 28, 2012
Number of pages:320
Publisher's recommended age(s):13 - 17
Available on:Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of Don't Turn Around was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Exciting, provocative dystopian novel will make teens think.
  • Teens will relate to dystopian world where scores = status.
  • Sharp critique of gamer culture told as sci-fi story.
  • Sci-fi thriller puts a futuristic spin on social networking.

Top advice and articles

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?