Book Review : When by Victoria Laurie

January 13, 2015 Book review 24 ★★★½

This book had me so excited.  The creepy cover and the “would you want to know” tagline hooked me right in.  And if you like a Sc Fi/Cri Fi genre mix-up then this might be just the book for you.

Book Review : When by Victoria LaurieWhen by Victoria Laurie
Published by Disney Hyperion on 13th Jan 2015
Genres: Law & Crime, Mystery, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

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?

First Line of When by Victoria Laurie:

“I’m not exactly sure when I first started to seeing the numbers.”

My thoughts on When by Victoria Laurie:

I did really enjoy When but I can’t say I was blown away by it.  I loved the concept of Maddie’s gift – she can see death dates – but I feel it wasn’t carried far enough in the book.  It just was what it was.  It wasn’t explored any further or developed throughout the book, it was just a psychic quirk that Maddie had.  I wanted MORE from this element of the book.  What we got was great, I loved it but it wasn’t enough.

On the other hand the crime fiction/mystery story and Maddie’s own family circumstances kept me invested in the book.  Maddie was a thoroughly sweet main character.  She is humble about her abilities, caring, a great friend and an awesome daughter, it was a pleasure spending time with her.  This girl has powers but never abuses them.  And rather than exploiting her gift, it is something that causes her immense personal pain.  Maddie feels helpless to do anything about these dates and they become a heavy burden for her which is totally understandable.  I felt like I got into her head during the book and could feel her despair at times.

Her mother was a car crash waiting to happen but it made for an interesting and humane angle to the plot.  Her uncle and her best friend Stubs were two other absorbing characters and I liked that I didn’t know what to expect from them.  They weren’t cliched and came across as unique characters who piqued my curiosity.

I thought the pace of the book was reasonably good but it did lag a little at times.  When it comes to crime fiction, the Young Adult versions can’t compete with the adult versions in my personal opinion, they just don’t have the same chill factor or relentless pace.  I did like that I was kept guessing during the book though and I didn’t guess the full extent of the plot until near the end of the book which was great.  But in a toss up, I’ll pick an adult crime fiction any day.

One interesting part of the book was the lack of romance which is refreshing.  Instead it became about Maddie, her family and friendships and her coping with the hurricane of events that she is swept up in.

Overall a very enjoyable read and if the paranormal aspects had been advanced further, I would have loved this book.  I’ll be keeping an eye on this author as she definitely has something to offer.


Rating Report
Did I feel it?
Overall: three-stars


Who should read When by Victoria Laurie?

I’d recommend this to those who like Sci Fi light Young Adult books or to those looking for a Young Adult Mystery book.  If you liked The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes then I think you’d also like this one.

Thanks to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest unbiased review.


Bookish Chat : And I’ve got to know!  Would YOU want to know?  If someone could tell you what date you would die, would you let them tell you?  I wouldn’t, I would just rather not know as I know it would alter my whole life.





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24 Responses to “Book Review : When by Victoria Laurie”

  1. Cynthia

    Great review. I preordered it so I received it on my Kindle today. Looking forward to reading it. It is disappointing to hear that the psychic element isn’t developed enough. Oh well.
    Cynthia recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday

    • trish

      I was disappointed by that too but then the mystery element makes up a bit for it. Overall I was happy enough with it. Hope you enjoy Cynthia!

    • trish

      I know, I love when I find YA books that don’t focus solely on romance. This was a lot going on in this book and the lack of romance really worked for me. And yes the premise is fab, even though I was a bit let down by the paranormal aspect.

    • trish

      I have had a few recommendations for the I Hunt Killers series now so I guess I need to start checking it out! I love suspense so it sounds perfect for me.

  2. Alma @ Journey Through Fiction

    I’d prefer not to know – I think it would freak me out a bit too much!

    I love Victoria Laurie’s adult books, and I’m really curious about When. Both of her adult series are quite light on the romance angle too, so it’s interesting to see she carried that over to her YA book as well 🙂 I’ll probably get around to reading it at some stage – but I might keep my expectations a little lower… just to be safe 🙂 Great review!
    Alma @ Journey Through Fiction recently posted…Ten 2014 Releases I Meant to Read, But Didn’t Get To

    • trish

      It would terrify me to know! Imagine counting down to that exact date and time. Urrrggh, no thanks!

      I haven’t read any of her adult books but I do definitely want to try them out. A lot of people seem to really like them and it’s good to find books that are romance light as it makes for a refreshing change.

    • trish

      I need to try some of her adult books. I liked this one well enough to want to explore her further, especially outside of the YA genre. Good to know you like the Psychic Eye series, I’ll keep them in mind 🙂

  3. Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library

    While I’ve always enjoyed Laurie’s paranormal cozies this book didn’t really grab me. It does sound like that despite it’s flaws I need to reconsider. Definitely putting this on my TBR. Have you read any of her other books? I’m curious to how the writing and characters compare. This sounds like it’s much more compelling than her others.
    Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library recently posted…A Fifty Year Silence – Review

    • trish

      Everybody is recommending this authors adult books to me so I definitely need to check them out. And yes, it’s worth adding in to your tbr as you like mysteries and so it should work out for you.

    • trish

      I definitely enjoyed this one Kim. I just think I might have adored it if the paranormal aspect was pushed further. But it was well worth checking out.

  4. Ana @ Read Me Away

    Ooohhh, this sounds so deliciously mysterious and interesting! I love LOVE mystery stories, and the premise of the dates above a person’s head sounds so cool. I think I’ve only encountered it once elsewhere, and that was in a manga. 🙂

    Great review, Trish! I’ll keep my eyes out for this one.
    Ana @ Read Me Away recently posted…Talk To Me 54: Noisy reading

    • trish

      That’s exactly why I grabbed it Ana. I just thought that concept was so cool and so exciting. It added a creepy angle to the book but I was sorry that it wasn’t explored a bit more. The mystery part was good though.

  5. Lola

    I am bit sad to hear Maddie’s gift isn’t really developed more, it sounds so interesting and original with the whole seeing death dates thing. Maddie sounds like a nice main character! I haven’t read a lot of mysteries so far, hope to read more of them this year. Great review!

  6. trish

    It’s sad it didn’t fully deliver on the paranormal side but I still found a lot to enjoy in this one. Like you I love the death date concept!

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