The end is here for the DON’T TURN AROUND series by Michelle Gagnon and before you read your way through Don’t Let Go, the final book, refresh your memory with this series recap and character guide!
First, let’s re-watch the trailer for the first book, DON’T TURN AROUND!
NOA TORSON (aka “Rain”): A former foster kid who used her smarts and computer skills to set up a fake foster family, effectively escaping the system. And she’s been surviving just fine on her own; until she wakes up on an operating table in a warehouse in DON’T TURN AROUND, with no memory of how she got there. Self-sufficient, tough, and distrustful of authority, Noa isn’t someone who plays well with others.
PETER GREGORY (aka “Vallas”): Compared to Noa, Peter might as well come from a completely different planet; he lives in a McMansion, goes to private school, and is popular in spite of his love of all things geek. Yet he also lost his beloved older brother to PEMA, a mysterious illness that only affects teens. That loss affected him deeply, and since then he’s been trying to make the world a better place. To accomplish that, he’s formed /ALLIANCE/, a sort of teen version of Anonymous. Initially, that’s where he and Noa met.
AMANDA BERNS: Peter’s girlfriend—at least at the beginning of the trilogy. Amanda is smart and beautiful, a freshman at Tufts University with a penchant for knit caps, fingerless gloves, and long-sleeved striped shirts worn under colorful cardigans. She also never met a cause she didn’t love; in her spare time, she volunteers at The Runaway Coalition, a support center for homeless teens.
ZEKE BALEWA (aka “A6M0”): Zeke is a fellow welfare system refugee. Three years earlier, he was also kidnapped by strangers and prepped for surgery. He survived and escaped, and is operating behind the scenes to help Noa.
PERSEF0NE’S ARMY (P.A.): A ragtag group of former runaways and test subjects from Project Persephone, the scientific project that first kidnapped Noa to experiment on her. Noa appropriates the name for her “Army,” which is made up of four main units: Northeast, Southeast, Northwest, and Southwest (her unit). They raid secret labs and try to intervene in kidnappings.
MASON: Always immaculately groomed, Mason is in charge of security for Project Persephone; which means he’s in charge of everything from kidnapping test subjects to scaring hackers (like Peter) away from their firewalls.
TEO: Noa (and her P.A. unit) rescue Teo during an attempted kidnapping. He begs to join up, then discovers that being part of this army might be more dangerous than he bargained for. But he finds himself falling for Daisy, who convinces him to stay.
DAISY: A Goth girl with blue hair and a deep, abiding love for torn stockings, piercings, and miniskirts, Daisy is a runaway from Vegas who joined the unit shortly before Teo. Beneath the tough exterior, she’s surprisingly sweet, as Teo discovers.
Top 5 moments from DON’T TURN AROUND
1.) Noa wakes up on an operating table with an incision on her chest and no memory of how she got there. She manages to escape, but soon discovers that the people who took her are still in pursuit.
“Cautiously, Noa raised up on her elbows, then frowned. This wasn’t like any hospital she’d ever seen. She was in the center of a glass chamber, a twelve-by-twelve foot box, the windows frosted so she couldn’t see out.”
2.) The same night that Noa escapes, Peter Gregory is snooping around his dad’s office. He discovers a file marked, “Project Persephone,” and starts to investigate by hacking into the corporation’s website.
“The question was, could anything Bob was involved with possibly be worth the time commitment?
Probably not, Peter decided. With a yawn, he powered down the laptop.
A minute later, his front door was kicked in.
3.) Noa and Peter eventually partner up to try and figure out what Project Persephone is, what was done to Noa, and why they’re still after her.
“What’s a Vallas, anyway?”
“It’s the name of my avatar in WoW.”
She gave him a blank look. “W-Oh-W? Like, wow?”
“No, not wow,” Peter felt slightly silly as he explained, “World of Warcraft.”
“The video game?” Her eyebrows arched.
“It’s an online multiplayer role-playing game,” Peter said defensively. Pretty much every hacker he knew spent hours every day enmeshed in the ongoing battle between the Alliance and their evil counterparts, the Horde. Every hacker but one, Peter realized with consternation, judging by her reaction. “I’m a Night Elf,” he finished lamely.
4.) After a series of narrow escapes, Peter and Noa seek refuge with his brother’s former roommate Cody, a medical student. Cody helps them decipher the documents they stole from Project Persephone’s database.
“I’ve got some more files,” Peter said with a shrug. “They’re uploading now. Why? What does it say they’re doing?”
Cody sat back and eyed the laptop pensively. “Experimenting,” he finally said.
“What kind of experiments?” Noa asked in a small voice. Suddenly, she wasn’t so sure she wanted to know.
“They’re trying to find a cure for PEMA,” he said. “Using human test subjects.”
5.) After a confrontation at an abandoned naval base in southeastern Rhode Island, Noa escapes with Zeke, and Peter is rescued by the FBI right before being killed by one of Mason’s minions. Noa goes online to organize an “army” of helpers to stop the experiments.
If you’ve found this, then you’re already one of us. This won’t be an easy thread to follow. Because of the people we’re up against, you’ll have to work for it. We’ll always leave bread crumbs, but they might get swept away, or be too hard to track. But we’re trusting that even if you only find this entry, you’ll pass it along. Because the one thing we have going for us is numbers. There are more of us. And if we work together, we can stop them.
Top 5 moments from DON’T LOOK NOW
1.) In San Francisco, Noa, Zeke, and the rest of her “Persef0ne’s Army” unit save Teo from being kidnapped.
There were eight kids total, and they each moved with purpose. On the concrete buttress next to where he kept his sleeping bag, a scrawny black kid was spray painting a logo in red: the letters P and A, intertwined. The rest of the group hunkered down around the two guys who’d assaulted him, securing their ankles and wrists.
2.) Peter is spending more time with Amanda; he starts to suspect she might have been infected with PEMA when she was abducted four months earlier.
She started walking again, but her stride was different and strange, kind of a slow shuffle. “Amanda?” Peter watched with a growing sense of dread as she drifted right, then circled around him.
3.) Noa and Zeke break into a warehouse outside Phoenix that they suspect of being a secret lab facility.
They were on the bluff overlooking the warehouse. The others had dropped them off an hour earlier, then left with the van to execute phase one of the plan.
Headlight beams slid away from them as the car turned up the final approach to the warehouse. The guards had gotten to their feet and were staring at it as if a UFO had just materialized out of the sky.
It was starting.
4.) Peter breaks into Mason’s apartment to try and figure out what was done to Amanda. But he gets trapped inside when someone enters unexpectedly.
Peter ducked behind the door as it popped open, sucking in to make himself as narrow as possible. A hand tossed a small bag into the hall. Peter held his breath. It landed with a crackle a few feet away—white plastic knotted at the top, with the outline of cardboard containers inside. Great, he thought. His death could be blamed on Chinese takeout.
5.) Noa and Zeke have retreated to their home base in Santa Cruz; but thanks to a traitor in their midst, the compound is raided. Most of their unit is captured, and Noa barely escapes.
The next ten minutes were a blur of biting water and crashing waves and gunshots that receded in the distance as they rounded the point. There were four shots in tight succession, answered by a much louder barrage.
Noa flinched as one final shot rang out, followed by silence.