Author: Victoria Laurie
Synopsis: 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?
Huge thank you to Disney-Hyperion and Netgalley for this ARC!
Admittedly, I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about Victoria Laurie’s novels. I figured I had nothing to lose when I requestedWhen, but after completing the book, I’m not seeing the big deal surrounding it.
Part of my issues with When is how much you have to suspend your disbelief for this story to actually work. There are so many holes and aspects the reader is forced to accept, even though they don’t make a lot of sense or connect together very well. In fact, just about anything related to the FBI in this story had me completely stumped because a lot of the time none of what would happen in this story WOULD happen.
I think the idea of Maddie being able to see people’s deathdates is absolutely interesting, but I feel like this has been done before. For me, personally, the level of consequence for this power should have felt much more daunting than it actual did. I think I was expecting more in the vein of “With great power comes great responsibility” but Maddie is frustrating in that she isn’t responsible, and reveals her power without a good reason! I don’t think the reason she reveals it in this story is at all valid, and again it comes from this level of belief suspension.
I just couldn’t get behind this story. Yes, it’s a fast and readable book, but the holes are so glaring and I just couldn’t suspend my disbelief the way the book wanted me to. I didn’t care about the plot or the characters, and the treatment of power aggravated me in some many ways. When is not a bad book, but its expectations of the reader are certainly troublesome. If you can suspend your disbelief to the farthest reaches, you can definitely find enjoyment in this book, but it simply didn’t click with me.