Don’t Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Don’t Even Think About It by Sarah MlynowskiDon't Even Think about It by Sarah Mlynowski
Published: Random House Children's Books (2014), eARC, 320pg
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Sci-fi

We weren't always like this. We used to be average New York City high school sophomores. Until our homeroom went for flu shots. We were prepared for some side effects. Maybe a headache. Maybe a sore arm. We definitely didn't expect to get telepathic powers. But suddenly we could hear what everyone was thinking. Our friends. Our parents. Our crushes. Now we all know that Tess is in love with her best friend, Teddy. That Mackenzie cheated on Cooper. That, um, Nurse Carmichael used to be a stripper.

Since we've kept our freakish skill a secret, we can sit next to the class brainiac and ace our tests. We can dump our boyfriends right before they dump us. We know what our friends really think of our jeans, our breath, our new bangs. We always know what's coming. Some of us will thrive. Some of us will crack. None of us will ever be the same.

So stop obsessing about your ex. We're always listening. (from Goodreads)

When I was in fourth grade I read The Girl with the Silver Eyes and it’s stuck with me ever since. Kids! With psychic powers! Doing cool things together! It was a very early intro to scifi for me, and I’ve never forgotten my love of it.

Don’t Even Think About It is the teenage spiritual successor to The Girl with the Silver Eyes. A group of kids get flu shots that turn out to have been contaminated with something: their eyes turn purple (cool!) and they develop ESP (double cool!)! And then they spend all their time eavesdropping and judging each other and lying and spying and basically being teenagers. As in, alternatively horrible and adorable.

Being a teenager is hard! Add in the ability to hear EVERYTHING someone’s thinking and the troubles get dialed up to 11. I loved that, and I loved that though there was plenty of sad/unhappy things in Don’t Even Think About It, it never went over the top into melodrama. Giving the kids ESP could have turned it into a bad Syfy movie of the month. Instead, as I’m not a super huge fan of straight-up YA contemp, it made the story way more interesting to me than it might have been otherwise.

Except, well, I expected something more like X-Files meets Chaos Walking, with the emphasis on the conspiracy/contamination aspect of the story. Though there were a few scenes where the kids tried to work out what was going on, they mostly spent their time going to class and listening to secrets. It was a more realistic way of handling suddenly-superpowers, sure, but I’ll admit that I wished there was a little more space dedicated towards finding out what happened to them. More digging into the contamination, the government cover-up, etc. To compare it to something else yet again: I wanted Veronica Mars with psychics.

C'mon, wouldn't that be amazing?
C’mon, wouldn’t that be amazing?

That is not Don’t Even Think About It at all. It focus is on the personal relationships of the class and their family/significant others. We get some answers re:wtf happened right near the end, and there IS some government presence (finally), but it’s not at all satisfying. The government people are just regular Joe Schmoes, and the kids tell them to eff off. And they DO.

A tiny bit of danger crept in at the end, though it wasn’t actually all that scary or dangerous. Some old people, who were also contaminated, died. Therefor the kids might die, too! But nobody knows, because old people die from things other than bad flu vaccinations and they don’t actually have any proof that THIS flu vaccine caused the old people’s deaths. It felt like someone set off a firecracker but it died after one spark.

I also thought there’d be more stuff about the class becoming more of a hive mind, as seen in the first chapter. To my disappointment, there wasn’t really anything about that at all, except for a throwaway line at the end. It made for a neat narrative voice (the “we” was alternatively creepy and cute) but, again, I wanted something other than what was there. Not the best way to read a book! Though I did like the friendship/relationship stuff, I wanted a lot more hardcore scifi things.

That makes me think, though, that Don’t Even Think About It would be a great intro to scifi for those people who mostly read contemporary fiction! It’s got all the elements of a great contemporary (heartbreak, romance, navigating friendships, etc.) and the scifi element gives it an interesting twist. Likewise, if somebody already enjoys scifi books but wants to try something more rooted in contemporary fiction, Don’t Even Think About It would be a good choice for them, too.

Read: February 15-23, 2014

What’s your favorite kids-with-psychic powers book? Besides The Girl with the Silver Eyes, I also really liked the Animorphs series. (Turning into animals counts as psychic powers, right?)

2 thoughts on “Don’t Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski”

  1. That episode of Buffy where she’s able to read minds! That is my favorite. Also, did you ever read that Lois Duncan book A Gift of Magic? The girl in that can’t read minds, but she can do a whole bunch of other cool stuff.

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