Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 336 (eARC)
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?
I didn't exactly know what to expect going into this book. Victoria Laurie has garnered much success as an adult author, but this is her first attempt at writing for young adults and such a shift in audience isn't always successful. But when a good friend at Disney brought this book to my attention, I couldn't help but give it a chance. And, boy, am I glad I did.
Admittedly, this book gets off to a bit of a slow start. Laurie has to set up the fact that our main character sees floating numbers on everyone's heads that signifies when they die. She has to set up her life and introduce a lot of the people in it that will play important roles later. Because of her thoroughness in the beginning, the book was able to be read at an incredibly fast pace later on when things finally picked up. And let me tell you, this book gets intense, as any murder mystery would.
Maddie is definitely a great heroine. She is strong and independent as well as intelligent. She fights to keep her house despite her alcoholic mother and has aspirations to one day go to Cornell. She won't let herself be pushed around by macho FBI agents who think she committed a murder that she is not guilty of. Her best friend is referred to as Stubby because of a childhood nickname and he's pretty great, too. As is her neighbor, Mr. Duncan, and her player and hot-shot lawyer of an Uncle, Donny. This entire cast of characters was really well done, even the murderer. I have to say, I had a few ideas of who it would be and while this person was at the back of my mind as one of my suspects, this individual was the one I least expected. So kudos to Laurie for pulling this murder mystery off. It definitely makes me curious about what else she has in store for us.
Another thing I loved about this book is the focus on the murder mystery and thriller aspect of it. There is a small crush-like thing going on that makes an appearance every now and then, but it's more of a cutesy sub-plot than anything else. As a romance lover, it's shocking to me that I was totally satisfied with the lack of romance in this, but there was just enough of it to whet my appetite while I remained riveted to the page and the adorable epilogue not only made me squeal in happiness, it made me happy for Maddie, too. The girl's been through the ringer and there's nothing more promising than hope.
With all of this in mind, I did have a few issues with the book. Firstly, some people were just really unprofessional. The whole principal encouraging bullying and the way teacher's handled the situation seemed very unrealistic to me. Furthermore, why Maddie can see these numbers still remains a mystery. Yes, she openly admits she has no idea it's her, but if she's the only one on the planet that has this capability surely there is a reason. The author didn't even attempt to tie it to a weird chromosome thing at birth or anything, it's just there. As a stickler for detail, these two things really grated on my nerves, but in the end, they're super nit-picky.
I can see fans of fast-paced stories and twisty mysteries falling head over heels for what this author has to offer. This is one of those stories that you really have to analyze everything because the most miniscule details end up playing the hugest part at the very end during the intense final showdown. All I can say is that this book is worth picking up! Laurie delivers a fast-paced and shocking murder mystery full of twists, turns, and some pretty cool "psychic" abilities that makes me eager to read what she writes next.
FTC Disclaimer: I received no compensation of any kind in exchange for my honest review.