Hi there! Today I’m reviewing a newly released YA book that captivated me from the first page. Victoria Laurie’s WHEN centers on Maddie, an ordinary girl with an extraordinary gift–she can see the death dates of every person she meets.
About the Book:
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?
Maddie has a had a traumatic life. Seeing the death dates of every person she meets, or on any close-up picture she sees, is personally horrifying, but she’s also forced to rely on this macabre talent in order to support herself and her alcoholic mother. She’s only 16 and didn’t realize the significance of those funny numbers on people’s foreheads until her father’s number was up. That was ten years ago and she and her mother are now limping along in a bedroom community about 90 minutes from Manhattan.
When she informs a client that her son will die in the coming week, the client freaks out. Maddie attempts to call a second time, urged by her best friend “Stubby” Shroeder, to impress the seriousness of the situation–and is rebuffed, with hostility. That is, until the young boy goes missing. Only, Maddie knows he’s not just missing–he’s dead. The Feds are in on the case, and Maddie finds herself at the center of their investigation. Her Uncle Donny, a slick lawyer, does his best to cast suspicion away, cautioning Maddie against doing any further readings–but she inadvertently sees a local girl with a looming death date–and Stubby insists they try to help.
Their interference only lands both of them in huge trouble, and the Feds are mounting a case file that could put both Maddie and Stubby in jail for a good long time. Meanwhile, Maddie fights the system, trying to prove that her “gift” is what gives her insight, as small as it is. She’s got the added trouble of bullying at school, and her mother going on increasingly more dangerous benders. I honestly got chills reading about Maddie peeling her mom off one floor, or another, and putting her back to bed safely–when her mom managed to make it home.
Maddie’s world has become an even more frightening place as strange trucks chase her down dark streets and yet another child is kidnapped. The FBI is, at first, hostile, but Maddie fights to win their support against Uncle Donny’s wishes–he’s sure they’re going to set her up. Proving her gift is legit is nearly as hard as proving the Tooth Fairy exists, however.
Still, Maddie never gives up trying to demonstrate her (and Stubby’s) innocence. Not when her mom takes a turn for the worst. Not when Stubby’s the lead suspect. And not when it seems the FBI wants to name her as an accomplice to a serial murderer. It’s a taut, emotional drama that moves with grace. Several suspects exist, all of whom are equally likely, keeping the reader guessing until the closing scenes.
The adults are very real people, not simple characterizations. Maddie’s mom is pathetic and sympathetic. Uncle Donny is a champ, and keeps the Feds from steamrolling two awesome kids. Stubby is the kind of best friend I would dream my kids find–selfless, kind and cheerful to a fault. Even the FBI agents who threaten Maddie at every turn aren’t as ruthless as they first seem. I expected the ending, but that’s like chocolate sprinkles on the thriller sundae. When, not if, WHEN is turned into a movie, I’m gonna get an extra large popcorn and enjoy it again.
About the Author:
As a professional psychic, Victoria’s protagonists – psychic Abigail Cooper, and spiritual medium M. J. Holliday – tackle the tricky world of the paranormal while fighting bad guys and demons with plenty of plucky humor and determination. And using that keen understanding of the paranormal, Victoria also created the character of Maddie Fynn, a teenager with the unique intuitive ability to predict the exact date of someone’s death.
To showcase her writing range, Victoria has also penned a children’s epic adventure series, The Oracles of Delphi Keep. Victoria loves to connect with her fans, and you can find her on Goodreads, her website, twitter and Facebook.