[494]: When by Victoria Laurie

Disney Hyperion | E-ARC via Net Galley
January 13th, 2015
Young Adult | Suspense
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

When’s  plot line might be something that most readers will find a bit of a novelty. When in fact, the story of a girl who can read a person’s “expiry date” has been done previously by Rachel Ward. Her Numbers series was a bit more harsh than this one as it dealt with  realistic portrayal of the kind of life for a couple of kids in the foster care system of London.  This novel is slightly less jarring than that.

When is the story of Maddie, a high schooler who only wanted to get through life undetected. But with her uncanny ability of knowing the exact date a person is suppose to die, her classmates had labeled her,  a “freak”. Her mother’s continued descent down the abyss of a bottle has been a direct result of her father’s death in the line of duty.  And with all their money going into her mother’s drinking habit, she’d been forced to use her ability to earn some extra money.

When kids around her started going missing – and worst, started dying – the FBI was quick to focus their attention on her. But when a cheerleader turns up murdered, the investigation quickly shifts to her best friend. Maddie acquires the help of her uncle to prove her friend’s innocence while she begrudgingly tries to work hand in hand with the FBI to find the real killer.

If there’s one thing I can complain about this book is its lack of suspense. Because there were no clear suspects, the readers will miss the response a mystery novel requires for a successful interactive book/reader relationship.  I had no guesses, and no starting point to solve the mystery. While that gives readers the liberty to do their own guesswork, the lack of viable suspects made it look like the killers were chosen at random.

The lack of romance doesn’t bear no relevance in my inability to enjoy this book. In fact, it would’ve been an awkward element if there was one.

Much of the grievances that readers have expressed had to do with unrealistic portrayal of the murder investigation conducted by the FBI.  I didn’t really have a problem with this. A bit of advice, when you read a synopsis and it states something as unrealistic as a person having the ability to tell your exact expiry date, chances are, the author probably have taken artistic/creative liberties over and beyond your expectations. Relinquish your analytic mind and stop looking for something realistic, I say.

This book had such a great foundation. Unfortunately, it couldn’t build any further than what we’re given in the synopsis.

  • It’s a shame that this book wasn’t as great as it could have been. But it sounds like something I can enjoy in between rom-coms. 😀 As always, great review, Joy!

  • Not sure I am going to read this one. Your experience is the most promising one I’ve seen and it still doesn’t scream “READ ME” ya know?

  • I hated this book, and I will confess that I was one of the reviewers who complained about the FBI presence. Not so much that they conducted the investigation, but just that the two agents were such a-holes to Maddie, for no reason whatsoever. I do agree that authors should feel free to depict things in any way they choose, but this is one thing that made no sense to me.

  • I enjoyed reading When, it was different from others YA thrillers that I had read lately.

  • I have seen this book around, but I doubt I will read it for the reason you mentioned. I have read the Numbers trilogy by Rachel Ward and absolutely LOVED those, so I feel like I would constantly be making comparisons here that wouldn’t be fair to When. And it feels like this book lacks something more to make it phenomenal. I will say that the idea of no romance for once is interesting and appealing in this case!

  • K

    Hmm, this sounds very interesting but it’s a pity it’s lacking suspense, as a thriller needs to have some form of suspense! Great review, Joy! 🙂

  • I enjoyed this book much more than you did, but I actually really liked that the mystery kept me guessing!! I can definitely see where you’re coming from though.

  • I wasn’t a fan of When, as you saw from my own review. I thought I’d nitpicked it pretty thoroughly, but you touched on aspects that I didn’t think of complaining about or forgot to mention.

    Also, side note: I’ve been a bit uninspired about what to read lately, so I went a searched your five-star reviews on Goodreads. Prepare for a ton of my reviews to feature books you love! 😛

  • The concept of the book sounds really fascinating, but too bad about the mystery not being handled too well. I hate it when the synopsis promises excitement but the book doesn’t really live up to it. Great review Joy!

  • “A bit of advice, when you read a synopsis and it states something as unrealistic as a person having the ability to tell your exact expiry date . . . ”

    LOL. How right you are. But I’m am the worst for doing that kind of thing. *shrugs awkwardly* I willfully suspend disbelief about a lot of paranormal . . . things for lack of a better word, but just b/c I’m willing to believe that someone has an unnatural ability doesn’t mean I’ll accept shoddy research on the more realistic aspects. I’m difficult like that. *shakes head at self* Regardless, this looks like one I should avoid, so thanks for the heads-up 😉

  • I do like the sound of this book, but I don’t really know if it would be a ‘me’ sort of book, I’m sorry that you weren’t able to enjoy it more, like I said the concept sounds great!

  • THANK YOU! I thought I was the only one who was reminded of Numbers when I first read the premise for this novel. It’s actually one of the reasons I didn’t add it to my TBR. I feel like after reading Numbers, no book could really measure up to it and the heartbreakingness of it. I guess I am still not over the book even though it’s been years 😛

    Also as a fan of suspense, I would be sad by the certain lack of the suspense element… .-.

    I am sorry this didn’t work out as well for you, Joy 🙁

    Lovely review though, hon!! 🙂

  • I’ve seen this book around quite a bit, but I never knew what it was about exactly. I looked it up on goodreads, and even though it doesn’t seem like the type of book I would enjoy, I still MIGHT give it a go. I’m trying my best to tackle books that I normally wouldn’t bother with this year!

  • I’ve never heard of Rachel Ward’s Number series but if is goes a little like this, but better, I might give it a try. It sucks when some book synopsis say one thing but the writing tells another story. I love suspense so the lack of might turn me away from this book. Great review, I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy but at least it wasn’t completely awful.

  • Good advice!

    I sometimes catch myself being too analytical with fantasy books. On those instances when I do, I tend to rate the book low. I guess it’s how the story’s presented too, IMO. As for the book, shit I wouldn’t want to know when I’d die! That’ll make me go crazier!

  • Sounds like the suspense in this one wasn’t done very well, alienating the reader from caring about the ending. Thanks for the honest review, Joy!

  • Oh, I have read some books that felt like this one about the ”killer.” Kinda reminds me of Pretty Little Liars and ********spoilers********** Ezra being ”A”. It’s like, what the hell???

  • I’m sorry to see you didn’t enjoy this book as much, Joy. I loved it because of the emotional connection I had with the protagonist but without that, the suspense isn’t much to run on, I agree. I hope your next read is more satisfying!

  • Wonderful review, Joy. I’m pretty good with just letting this type of premise take me on a escape ride, but the mystery aspect being so open, and vague may be a problem. I’ll keep my eye on this one. Thanks! 🙂

  • Hm. At first, the fact that there are no obvious suspects sounds like a good thing, but the more I think about it the more I see your point. I like there to at least be a few red herrings here and there that completely fool me before the big reveal leaves me going I SHOULD HAVE SEEN THAT COMING. Too bad that wasn’t the case with this one, but fantastic review as always!

  • I was glad by the lack of romance but the blurb was misleading. And I have to politely disagree with you on your last paragraph about not expecting realism if it’s about a girl who can see expiry dates, then we shouldn’t expect realism when it comes to other aspects. For me, because the whole idea of seeing the expiry dates was so unexplained, I needed other parts of the book to be realistic. And of course, I’m not always the most stringent reader when it comes to things like these in books, but the portrayal was a bit too much for me. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this one more, Joy. Also, if you want a good crazy book that will make you suspect EVERYONE, I highly recommend Dangerous Girls and Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas! It’s crazy good and I think you would enjoy it.
    Great review, Joy! 🙂

  • Awesome review Joy. <3 I'm glad you ended up enjoying this book despite some issues 😀 I'm not sure it would be for me, probably not, since you mention no romance either :p Hmph. But I do think the cover is pretty 😀 Thank you for sharing your thoughts sweetie. <3

  • This sounds have a great premises, too bad it didn’t live up to it. I wanted to read this but maybe I will wait a little longer now. I am not sure if I would enjoy this as much as I was hoping I would.

    Wonderful honest review!!!

  • Hmm, I’m not sure if I like the sound of this or not. On the one hand the ability to tell when someone is going to die, intrigues me. But, the lack of setting up a proper mystery novel, sort of puts me off. I’ll have to think about it. ;] Great review though! 🙂

  • This book sounds fun and like a guilty, fun read that you do between other speculative books. At first the girl’s ability reminded me a lot of the Japanese manga Death Note, but I’m glad to hear that they’re nothing alike in the long run. Glad you enjoyed it! xx

  • Great review! I think I had given it three stars on Amazon as well. I did enjoy it. but it could have been better. I thought it was great that I had no idea who the bad guy was. Like you, I had no problem with the lack of realism in the FBI investigation. I had read about that in some of the reviews and it annoyed me only a little in the book. I mean, it’s fiction and we are already talking about a girl who can see the dates of when everyone is going to die. But sure, let’s focus on how the investigation is unrealistic. Ha.

  • I am not feeling like rushing out to get this one 😉

  • I’ll probably compare any book with visible death dates to Death Note, and even though I actually haven’t finished the manga, I don’t know if anything will compare. (That sounds rude of me to say LOL). But all these Goodreads comments glorifying the unique premise makes me derp a bit. But it does sound unfortunate that you weren’t able to fully become a criminal profiler (the ideal reading path for murder-mysteries).


  • I’m sorry that the book wasn’t as good as you thought it would be. I confess that I was surprised by it and finally really enjoyed it.