When By Victoria Laurie
Genres: Fantasy-ish, Contemporary-ish, Mystery, Paranormal/Supernatural, Suspense
Published January 13th 2015 by Disney-Hyperion
“So I wait and hope for a day when a client sits down in front of me, and I tell them their date, and then a miracle happens: I’ll see the date change… And I’ll finally be more than just the messenger.”
~ Maddie, pg 4
(Taken from Goodreads but we edited and added our own bits and pieces)
Maddie Fynn is a high school junior (S: Like us 😀) who has an ability to see a series of digits hovering above foreheads which her family later finds out are actually death dates. And just like birthdays, everyone has one. (S: Nope. Not me. I’m immortal. Seriously.)
Her alcoholic mother takes advantage of Maddie’s ability to make extra money, but because it only allows her to see the when and not the how, she’s unable to offer any more insight. When the son of one of her clients goes missing on the exact date that she had read, law enforcement turns to (and against) Maddie.
Soon, she is entangled in a homicide investigation where more young people are beginning to disappear and are then found murdered. She is now a suspect for the investigation, a target for the murderer, and attracting the attentions of a mysterious young admirer who may be connected to everything. Maddie’s life is about to be flipped, shaken and stirred (S: and nope this ain’t no cooking show. F: What will be cooking will be your anticipation… boiling to the point where you just can’t take it anymore). She’s somehow the epicenter of it all. Can she right the wrongs before it’s too late?
What was great or gross about the book?
S: To start off, I would like to take a moment to appreciate the beauty of this cover. Personally, it looked even better up close, and I seriously wish I owned a copy. What can I say, I’m really petty ~ and I judge books by their covers. (Which coincidentally is a Book Nerd struggle… F: Woo we have struggles like every other human being on Earth. And to be honest we all judge book covers, alright?)
F: To be even MORE honest, personally the cover didn’t intrigue me that much. Goes to prove how everyone has different opinions about covers! This book was great. It was different. Well of course there are books that are similar to it but the enjoyment level of the plot was pretty high and I just couldn’t stop gaping about the ending. Especially the last pages. (But no spoilers, I promise! Just go read it and we won’t spoil it for you. 😉 )
S: Something I really liked (other than the plot) was that I could relate to the characters. Not in a “I FEEL YOU WE ARE NOW SOULMATES” way, but rather they weren’t so dumb that I couldn’t stand them, that I wanted to whack them in the face with their paranormal powers. Of course, Maddie did do some dumb things, but they were forgivable. I mean, even fictional teens have the right to make mistakes. (
F:Except for fictional possible-love-interests-to-the-main-character who apparently never seem like they make mistakes unlike reality and real humans.)
Oh yes, Faith reminded me… there is actually very little romance in the story, which is odd with YA. But the lack of it made it so much easier to focus on Maddie and the actual plot.
F: Romance? What romance? Okay let’s be serious for a sec. (And you’re like “Serious? About ROMANCE? Ughh.” No wait it would be more accurate if I said that that was probably me when I was younger…)
Basically the romance element was so little that whenever it popped up I was all like “What, where did that come from?” and I just felt like it was so random that it just made me more suspicious of everything and everyone than I already was. It might have even made it better to leave that element out because some books just try to force a love triangle into the plot or some kind of possible love interest dilemma and it just doesn’t work out as well with the main story. Whereas in When, the romance is hinted at and leaves you somewhat curious but still satisfied.
S: Yes, and Maddie’s perspective on almost everything (including the romance) didn’t make me want to cringe (unlike most paranormal heroines). She didn’t really fall into insta-love, and although you could see the OBVIOUS set up (really obvious, people), it didn’t really repel me.
F: Maddie in general was a pretty solid character. The police department people however, were bugging me. Without really spoiling anything, they were obviously pretty suspicious of her supernatural talent and focused a lot of time on her. A lot. There was a lot of back and forth with Maddie at the police station and then back to whatever she was doing. Of course as the reader, we know that she has no clue as to what may be going on and with the murderer still on the loose I was wishing the police would just quickly go ahead and trust her so that they could find the real villain. But nope. Noppitty nope nope. And poor Maddie’s friend who was innocently dragged into it all. (That’s all I have to say about that friend. S: Our lips are sealed. But not with duct tape. It’s not like we’ve been threatened with kidnapping if we told you.)
S: Yes, the police and their constant interrogation
and terrorization of Maddie (& friend) made me mad. And her town’s treatment? If l lied in that town, I might have killed them myself. But the way Maddie showed the police that she was legit had me like YOU GO GLEN COCO. (F: I legit thought of it before too and I was like WHY DON’T YOU DO IT ALREADY?? S:TRUTH F:Btw the “You go Glen Coco” thing was MY thought. Haha I’m taking all the creds. S: ALSO TRUTH) The way she dealt with her town and school made me proud of her. She managed to keep her chin up. (F: More like head up. Don’t wanna be too snobby with noses in the air 😛). Her family (or at least part of it, was supportive and had me like: THANK GOD FOR NORMAL CARING PARENTAL FIGURES)
If anything, the book’s main flaw is its predictableness.
F: It was predictable for Sarah, yes. But the from one point on until the end, no. Expect plot twists but don’t keep your expectations so skyscraper high that you aren’t even going to enjoy the book. (If you get what I’m trying to say.) Just let the book guide you and take you to places and make you wonder about who the murderer is because if you think too hard, your brain will become a stone and you consequently won’t be able to think about anything else for the next hour. (Not like you’ll be able to think about anything anyway WHEN you finish the book.) Hopefully, these plot twists will surprise you just as much as they did us! We (S: More like Faith) were so certain it was ___________ or ___________ and kept our sights set on them but don’t follow our footsteps. Thought of the day/review: Be open minded.
S: DISCLAIMER: I SAW IT COMING
SO HA. If you are like me and have serial killer detection powers (in the fictional world and hopefully this one as well), it will be totally obvious. Hint: Think of the last 5 people it could ever be. Choose the most likely out of those…
Actually, now that I read my ‘hint’, I realize how horrible that actually was… FLAW #2: We can’t review this without major spoilers. siiiiigh (F: I KNOW. We’ve been going around in circles if you haven’t noticed and have been evading some details because we want to respect your right to read in peace. 😛)
F: About the main story though: at first I was skeptical because I thought the storyline would be the same as other things that I’ve read before and in some ways it still was similar (which Sarah kind of mentioned about the predictability) … but it was still gratifyingly suspenseful.
S: Yeah, I’ve noticed there are a lot of books dealing with the topic of death dates, the most similar is Numbers by Rachel Ward which was published waaaay earlier. So there were cries of RIP OFF, but honestly? This version was far more entertaining, and other than the Death Date thing, they aren’t too similar.
F: That sounds great to me because I’ve never read Numbers. If you have, tell us what you think about the similarities and differences!
S: Well, I made a promise to myself I wouldn’t bash books as a reviewer. So let’s just say that I really disliked Numbers and really liked When. I think I had more problems with Number’s characters and writing style, rather than plot. I say this because most people I know LOVE Numbers, so there must be something people liked. Moving on. But I’m really hoping for a sequel…
(F: Yeah, but it seems like a standalone. But Victoria Laurie please tell us what happens in her future!!! And what’s going to happen if she has a family of her own in the future and everything? Like she finds out some tragic date on her 20th birthday or her wedding day? Spill the beans or just the details… I need to know. S: PREACH)
We rate When by Victoria Laurie one hundred percent because it is a fantastic quick read (S: Like really quick) that’s as much suspenseful as intriguing with all the paranormal power which was just enough of a tinge but not overwhelming. The way the story was tied together was really cool and unexpected which I really liked; there were also practically little to none loose ends left untied. So if you want something short and flavourful, this is your book.
Final Rating: 5/5 stars
~ Sarah & Faith