Don't Turn Around

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In Michelle Gagnon’s debut YA thriller, Don’t Turn Around, computer hacker Noa Torson is as smart, tough, and complex as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’s Lisbeth Salander.
The first in a trilogy, Don’t Turn Around’s intricate plot and heart-pounding action will leave readers desperate for book two.
Sixteen-year-old Noa has been a victim of the system ever since her parents died. Now living off the grid and trusting no one, she uses her hacking skills to stay anonymous and alone. But when she wakes up on a table in a warehouse with an IV in her arm and no memory of how she got there, Noa starts to wish she had someone on her side.

Enter Peter Gregory. A rich kid and the leader of a hacker alliance, Peter needs people with Noa’s talents on his team. Especially after a shady corporation threatens his life in no uncertain terms. But what Noa and Peter don’t realize is that Noa holds the key to a terrible secret, and there are those who’d stop at nothing to silence her for good.

Curriculet Details
76 Questions
74 Annotations
0 Quizzes

In this 8th grade digital curriculum, annotations include links to images of items and places mentioned in the book to aid visualization, medical explanations for the multiple medical terms used in the novel and explanations of literary devices such as allusion and deus ex machina. Interactive videos support engagement and cover medical explanations as well as connection to modern films that allow for deeper engagement and visualization of the plot. The Common Core aligned questions and answers address characterization through the medium of dialogue and motivation along with the theme of trust and ethics that runs through the novel. Our free online unit will increase student engagement with rich media annotations while supporting reading comprehension with questions and quizzes that are imbedded directly into the book.

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An epigraph is usually a quotation, phrase, or poem set at the beginning of a text. Epigraphs can play different roles for a text: a summary, a warning, an opposite example, or as a link to another text. Read "Persephone, Falling" carefully because the author definitely had a purpose in mind when she included this as the first thing you read. 

Chapter One

Noa's use of "blackout" curtains so that she could remain in the "gloom" instantly makes the reader feel that Noa  
What's great about fiction set in the real world is that sometimes the author helps you orient yourself within a real city. Click below to explore the intersection where Noa was taken, and as you continue reading play around with Google Maps to see if you pinpoint locations the author mentions. (This annotation has embedded rich content)
Which of the following pieces of text evidence does not support the idea that Noa may be something more than just a normal girl? 
Peter seems fixated on his parent's hypocritical actions. Based on what you have read so far, what other reasons might Peter have for not having a stronger emotional connection to his parents? 
AMRF's "Project Persephone" is an allusion, or reference, to the myth of Persephone. Sometimes authors include connections to older or more famous myths and stories to provide their reader with a hint at what is going on in their story. Follow the link below to read more about the myth of Persephone. As you read, think about how the story may relate to the plot of Don't Turn Around and it's epigraph.  (This annotation contains a link)

Chapter Two

The author most likely described the blacktop as being "iced over" to try and invoke a __________ mood. 
Our bodies are amazing pieces of machinery. As Noa has been running for her life, her body has provided her with the energy she needs to get away in the form of adrenaline. Watch the video below and see how our bodies prepare us for danger - even before we consciously see it.  (This annotation contains a video)
In case you are lucky enough to have never had surgery, you can see below what Noa is seeing underneath her bandage. Not a pretty sight necessarily - especially when you don't know why you have the incision to begin with! (This annotation contains an image)
Noa knows that no ordinary car accident has lead her to where she is now. What events and/or interactions has Noa had that support her claim that what is happening to her is not the result of having a "regular" accident. 
Both Peter and Noa have found themselves interacting with mysterious characters. There situations are similar except for the fact that 
Oily rags produce great fires, and luckily for Noa, a lot of billowy black smoke. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following words has the same meaning as blanched as used in this sentence? 
The author personified Noa's foot in this scene to help us understand that Noa is a _________ character. 
Sometimes an author gives their readers small hints at what is going to happen later in the text. When an author gives us these hints it's known as foreshadowing. The fact that Peter feels Amanda will do nothing but criticize him the moment he calls her makes the reader feel like she might not be what we would call a "good listener". It seems the author is foreshadowing some issues with their relationship. 
What does the author's choice to refer to Peter's father as "Bob" tell you about the relationships this family has built? 

Chapter Three

So far, the author has included small details that allude to the myth of Persephone. Which of the following statements is not something that alludes to Persephone's story? 
Odin is a god of war and death, but also the god of poetry and wisdom. He hung for nine days, pierced by his own spear, on the world tree. Odin can make the dead speak to question the wisest amongst them. His hall in Asgard is Valaskjalf ("shelf of the slain") where his throne Hlidskjalf is located. From this throne he observes all that happens in the nine worlds. The tidings are brought to him by his two raven Huginn and Muninn. He also resides in Valhalla, where the slain warriors are taken. 
Peter and Noa seem to be highly skilled when it comes to computers and hacking. Yet, for as skilled as he is, Peter tends to be a pretty reckless character. Which of the following pieces of evidence does not support the claim that Peter is reckless? 
World of Warcraft is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game where users create a character and immerse themselves in a world with a rich history. Characters can choose to be part of the Alliance or the Horde. Watching the introductory video below seems to cast each side as a "good guy" or "bad guy" with some pretty obvious imagery (Horde characters causing plants to die and fire to burst forth paints a pretty evil picture). By referring to WOW is the author trying to hint that there will be clear cut "good" and "bad: guys? Or, is she trying to let us know that not everyone can be so cut and dry, one side or the other? (This annotation contains a video)
A theme that is building over the beginning of Don't Turn Around is one about trust: who can you trust and who should you avoid? Both Noa and Peter have many reasons to doubt the people around them. Who can Noa trust? Who can Peter trust? Use text evidence to discuss how each character views trust and the world around them. 

Chapter Four

A matryoshka doll, also known as Russian nesting doll, refers to a set of wooden dolls of decreasing size placed one inside the other. The first Russian nested doll set was carved in 1890 by Vasily Zvyozdochkin. Traditionally the outer layer is a woman, dressed in a sarafan, a long and shapeless traditional Russian peasant jumper dress. The figures inside may be of either gender; the smallest, innermost doll is typically a baby turned from a single piece of wood. Much of the artistry is in the painting of each doll, which can be very elaborate. The dolls often follow a theme; the themes vary, from fairy tale characters to Soviet leaders.  (This annotation contains an image)
The procedure that was done on Noa still remains a mystery, but it seems Noa is having some odd side effects. What are some of the strange things happening to Noa's body? Use details from the text in your response. 
What is ironic about Noa's doubts concerning Vallas? 
It's weird that Priscilla is so obsessed with her physical appearance, but is not bothered at all by having a poor relationship with her son. Peter's parents seem to have priorities that are far more important than their child - but do those priorities lie with Project Persephone? 
It seems like Peter's parents aren't really on his side, and to top it off, they have a strange relationship with this Mr. Mason. It makes you wonder what could have happened to make Peter's parents resent him so much? 

Chapter Five

While not exactly the scene Noa is describing, the photo gives you an idea of what Noa is seeing. A body on the table - but more importantly, her own body!  (This annotation contains an image)
The fact that Noa only feels safe while in the virtual world tells the reader that she is  
Amanda is an activist and a budding feminist. Feminists believe in equality between the sexes and Amanda wants to make sure that Peter knows they are equals.  
Peter's decision to order eggs and sausage is symbolic. It let's the reader know that  
A fishmonger is someone who sells fish for a living. After spending a few days in someone's old unwashed fishing outfit Noa probably smelled worse than a fishmonger. (This annotation contains an image)
A studio apartment is a small apartment where all of the living spaces (bedroom, kitchen, living room, etc.) all share the same room. There are no walls separating them. (This annotation contains an image)
The air of mystery in this novel just builds and builds, and suddenly we have this mysterious man. Who could this young guy be? Using everything we know about Noa and what has happened to her, make a prediction about his identity. 

Chapter Six

A VPN is a private network that uses a public network (usually the Internet) to connect remote sites or users together. The VPN uses "virtual" connections routed through the Internet from the business's private network to the remote site or employee. By using a VPN, businesses ensure security -- anyone intercepting the encrypted data can't read it. 
As we read from both Noa and Peter's point of view, we can start to see some strong similarities between their characters. Which of the following is NOT a characteristic that they share. 
It's interesting to point out a loophole in the plot here: Noa is an experience hacker, right? Yet when she is confronted with confusing vocabulary she doesn't think to just google that information? As you continue reading, think about long drawn out ways Noa and Peter use to gather information that might have been a click away... 
The author is most likely drawing attention to the bleached nature of the snow to emphasize 
This isn't the first time Peter has missed something obvious. Use details from the text to support the claim that Peter easily overlooks the obvious. 
A cliché is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has become overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, even to the point of being trite or irritating, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful. There are so many clichés that we encounter: the tough cop who's about to retire but has to deal with one more bad guy, the young girl who falls in love with the wrong guy and goes off the deep end, the snotty rich kid who learns a lesson about life after some serious trials - wait, doesn't this sound like Peter a bit?  
Based on the conversation with his parent so far, which of the following words BEST describes Peter's tone? 

Chapter Seven

Watch the following clip from the film Crash (2004). A car accident followed by a fire is an extremely horrifying experience. Noa is too young to remember the exact details - but this clip does a good job of showing the despair, panic, and intensity of the fire. (This annotation contains a video)
How does the description of this dream help the reader understand Noa better? Using details from the text, describe how the story of her parents death helps you understand Noa's actions more clearly. 
A gyre is a swirling vortex or whirlpool. This is a fitting description for Peter's stomach as he sees the girl he loves clutching onto another man.  (This annotation contains an image)
Why do you think it was a reflex to look down at Peter's shoes? 
Both Amanda and Peter fight for the underdog and are adamant activists, but somehow they are drifting apart. What is truly separating them? 
Che Guevara was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, guerrilla leader, diplomat, and military theorist. A major figure of the Cuban Revolution, his stylized picture (shown here) has become a well known countercultural symbol of rebellion.  (This annotation contains an image)
The way that Amanda is handling Peter's distress can best be described as 
Pretty looming gate, isn't it? Especially at night and in the snow it would seem like Noa is escaping into a different world altogether trying to get away from the men who are chasing her. (This annotation contains an image)
Noa is referring to an old Irish proverb: Better the devil you know than the devil you don't. It's all about choosing the lesser of two evils. Noa knows that cops aren't always the most helpful, but in her current situation it sure beats the men chasing her. 
The man following Noa held up his hands placatingly because he didn't want to  
It is pretty hilarious to think of Noa as a "damsel in distress" considering all the things that have happened to her and the way she handled them. List four details from the novel so far that prove Noa is not a "damsel in distress" who needs a man to save her. 
Which of the following statements is the least likely to be a reason that Noa should trust A6M0? 
In literature there is a plot device known as "deus ex machina." A writer is committing a deus ex machina when a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability or object. Depending on how it is done, it can be intended to move the story forward when the writer has "painted himself into a corner" and sees no other way out, to surprise the audience, to bring the tale to a happy ending, or as a comedic device. It might be that the character of A6M0 is more than just a convenient plot device - but isn't Noa so lucky a random THIRD hacker is following her and knows just how to get her to safety? Keep track of A6M0 and see if he or she continues to be "oh so convenient". 

Chapter Eight

Peter's plan with Mackenzie shows that he used to be ___________ earlier in high school. 
For a character who like to call out cliches it's a shame he is the embodiment of one. You have probably seen countless shows where the "cool suave" guy gets all befuddled and idiotic when around that "one special girl". We know Peter must really like Amanda because he just loses it around her... what will he be like with Noa if he ever spends more than five minutes with her? 
A relationship that started with a lie! This is definitely going places. 
A beat is a unit that actors use to measure time. It is a short pause of silence that is used for effect. In this moment, that beat is a death bell for Peter and Amanda. You can almost feel the awkward silence around you. 
Amanda get's defensive when Peter begins to describe how he sees Drew because  
Another deus ex machina? Maybe places like this exist, but it's awfully convenient. 
The lungs on the left belonged to a smoker and the lungs on the right to a non-smoker. It's easy to see why Noa can spot the blackness of Alex's lungs in the photograph. Did his lung damage make him ineligible for the same procedure as Noa? (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter Nine

Another theme that is starting to rise to the surface of this novel is security, or a lack of security. What are other instances in this novel where something should have been secure but ended up being easily broken into? Use details from the text in your response. 
The mention of "Orwellian big-brother" tactics is an allusion to the famous novel 1984 by George Orwell. In the novel society is controlled by the government, referred to as "big brother" and they are constantly monitoring everyones actions. Some fear that the onset of computers is bringing us closer to Orwell's vision of constant surveillance. The hackers in /ALLIANCE/ certainly seem to think so.  
Phlashing is a permanent denial of service (DoS) attack that exploits a vulnerability in network-based firmware updates. Such an attack is currently theoretical but if carried out could render the target device inoperable.  
Peter is struggling with trying to understand right vs. wrong in the situation he is in. What is the ethical dilemma that Peter creates? 
It's hard to read this scene and not think of a very similar one from the last Harry Potter film installment. Interesting how different genres handles the same situation differently.  (This annotation contains a video)
How does the scene from The Deathly Hallows create tension differently from the cafe scene in Don't Turn Around? Use details from the text and the clip in your response. 
Which of the following words can best describe the Pratts? 
In England a prat is slang for someone who is a fool or idiot. Do you think this surname was intentional considering how foolish these two ended up being? 
As the story progresses it is becoming quite clear that Noa is very quick-witted in tense situations. She knows if she brings the men into a school that the teachers will sound the alarm. What are two other instances where Noa has shown some fast thinking that got her out of danger? Use details from the text to support your response. 
The fact that Peter refers to his /ALLIANCE/ members as minions shows that Peter 
The author definitely loves her mythology references. According to Norse mythology, Loki was a god. Loki sometimes assists the gods and sometimes causes problems for them. Loki is a shape shifter and in separate incidents he appears in the form of a salmon, mare, seal, a fly, and possibly an elderly woman. Loki's positive relations with the gods end with his role in engineering the death of the god Baldr.  
Considering how hurt Peter was it seems weird that Amanda would message him with such a cold few sentences. Is something fishy going on here?  
Which of the following statements best describes Amanda's motivation for working at the Coalition? 
Amanda doesn't tell Mrs. Latimer about the girl because 

Chapter Ten

A small smile? What's going on here? It seems Noa's icy exterior is cracking. 
Noa's attention to Peter's hair as he runs his hands through it gives us a hint that 
Just like she decided to trust A6M0, Noa is letting her guard down with Peter. What reasons does Noa have to think that Peter is trustworthy? List three details that support the claim that Peter is a trustworthy character. 
Something is definitely going on if Noa is never hungry and then suddenly starving. She sleeps like crazy or not at all. What did they do to her? 
Peter describes Noa's attitude towards him as discomforting because  
It also seems convenient that two teens can get ahold of so much money so easily, but I guess we have to suspend our disbelief and go with it! 
The author is highlighting the fact that Noa has never been affluent, while Peter comes from a family of wealth. Yet both of them become entangled in this conspiracy.  (This annotation contains an image)
Noa raises an eyebrow at Peter because she is 

Chapter Eleven

Just to keep your mental movies at 100% accuracy, you can listen to a South Boston accent by watching the video linked here. It certainly is a different way of talking. (This annotation contains a video)
This particular line of dialogue proves which of the following statements about Peter true? 
PEMA is, fortunately, a fictitious disease created for this novel. Pay close attention as they talk about this disease and carefully collect the evidence to help you fully understand how it functions in the novel. 
How does the author's choice of the word barren affect the way the reader feels about Cody? 
Noa gets very defensive when Cody says that he "guesses" that he believes her. What events from her past could make Noa so defensive to people not believing her? Use details from the story in your response. 
You'd think doctor's would get together and decide to write legibly. (This annotation contains an image)
Amanda really hasn't been paying attention to Peter! For someone who cares so much, it's surprising how much she just brushed him off. 
Why does Mrs. Latimer need to have created a "mask of affability" in her line of work? 
This question is yet another example of Peter's 
Cody and Jeremy must have been really close for Cody to be this distressed at his death... 
Why does Peter feel so much hostility towards Cody right now? Use the text to support your claim. 
Some of the people working on the PEMA research did not know they were experimenting on humans. They were kept from the full truth and lied to. Which of the following statements is a situation where people were told a half-truth about what they were involved in? 
Watch below to learn more about the Thymus Gland: (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter Twelve

The fact that he won't bad mouth Amanda, even after she hurt him, shows that Peter is which of the following traits? 
Is a little romance budding here between our protagonists? Remember who the last person to make Peter nervous was? 
Peter's inability to talk to Noa is similar to when 
A6M0 was "starting to worry" about Noa, which means the reader can infer that A6M0 
Noa is constantly gripping and/or rubbing the place where her jade bracelet used to be because   
A grassroots movement or organization is driven by a community's politics. The term implies that the creation of the movement and the group supporting it are natural and spontaneous, highlighting the differences between this and a movement that is orchestrated by traditional power structures. Grassroots movements are often at the local level, as many volunteers in the community give their time to support the organization or party. 
Amanda is not as aware of her surroundings as Noa would be. It's interesting to contrast the way they would approach this situation. It is common for someone to fake a disability in order to trick someone into helping, thereby making it easier to abduct them.  

Chapter Thirteen

Peter burning the eggs and then laughing about it supports which of the following claims that Amanda has about Peter? 
Peter is reluctant to leave Noa alone to work on "something different." This action supports which of the following themes of Don't Turn Around? 
You can read the page yourself:  (This annotation contains a link)
A hacker's dream! (This annotation contains an image)
It seems the romance quotient is really ramping up. Interesting that her initial annoyance at Peter is blossoming into some romantic attraction. Is Don't Turn Around taking a romantic bend? 
Noa finds Peter's habit of tapping his foot comforting. The author includes this detail to support the idea that 
The author is pointing out a very real issue in America today. Some companies, conglomerates specifically, own so many smaller companies that they practically own everything you buy. Just take a look at this chart to see the ten companies that own almost everything!  (This annotation contains an image)
Why would the author describe Noa's withholding of information as backpedaling? 
Cody's ability to control his emotions in a calculated way implies that he  
Check out this site that explains T-Cells in plain english. As you read, think about how the production of T-Cells might be affection Noa.  (This annotation contains a link)
Why is Cody so intent on taking care of Peter? 

Chapter Fourteen

When Peter tells Noa she looks "pretty" when she smiles, he is supporting which claim that Amanda makes about him? 
Something tells me that the author is talking about more than just the weather here! 
Just to help out your visualization as you read, below is a picture of an Audi sedan. (This annotation contains an image)
Your body's immune system usually protects you from substances that may be harmful, such as germs, poisons, and sometimes cancer cells. When a person receives an organ from someone else during transplant surgery, that person's immune system may recognize that it is foreign. Doctors use medicines to suppress the recipient's immune system. The goal is to prevent the immune system from attacking the newly transplanted organ when the organ is not closely matched.  
Why did the author decide to include the detail of lights that are "glowing red"? 
Sounds like this kid knows all about AMRF and who they're targeting. 
The fact that the men left Amanda on the same bench that her dead brother was found on implies which of the following statements is true? 

Chapter Fifteen

It's funny how people in denial will come up with a hundred different explanations than face a situation that is truly scary. Amanda woke up on the same bench as her dead brother and she just assumes it must have been a seizure? 
Which of the following reasons is most likely motivating Noa to break into the AMRF compound even when Peter has doubts? 
A Quonset hut: (This annotation contains an image)
Noa is obviously having a hard time dealing with what was done to her. She may be suffering from a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as the video explains. (This annotation contains a video)
Noa was very cryptic when Peter insisted that the cops would need a warrant to search the place. Noa insisted she had a plan, one that involves a computer. Knowing what you know about Noa and her skills -what do you think she planning to do? Use details from the text to support your claim. 
National Security Agency (NSA) is a U.S. intelligence agency responsible for global monitoring, collection, decoding, translation and analysis of information and data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes - a discipline known as Signals intelligence. NSA is also charged with protection of U.S. government communications and information systems against penetration and network warfare. Hacking into their site doesn't seem like a very good idea - unless you want the FBI charging in. 

Chapter Sixteen

Below is a picture of a typical boat used to catch crabs. (This annotation contains an image)
The author most likely decided to make the foot Noa found "small" and "female" in order to  
This is where the body parts would be placed and the crabs would come to feast.  (This annotation contains an image)
This line of thinking on Noa's part show that she is a ______________. 
This is our first real murder - at least one seen by the protagonists. Things are going to be very serious from here on out. 
The author includes this metaphor to emphasize that 
These phones don't rely on normal cell towers to get service, they use satellites in space to get a signal. Cole means business. (This annotation contains an image)
Responding to Noa in this way highlights which of the following claims that Amanda made about Peter? 
Why can Noa so easily make it seem as if she doesn't care for Peter at all? What about Noa's upbringing has caused her to hide her emotions so well? Use details from the text to support your claim. 

Chapter Seventeen

A Molotov cocktail, also known as a petrol bomb, poor man's grenade, fire bomb, or just Molotov, is a generic name used for a variety of bottle-based improvised incendiary weapons. Due to the relative ease of production, they are frequently used by protesters and non-professionally equipped fighters in urban guerrilla warfare. They are primarily intended to set targets ablaze rather than instantly destroy them. 
At this moment in time, one of Peter's negative traits actually serves to do something positive. Which trait is it? 
Cole got to someone Peter knows. Is he referring to Amanda, or someone else? 
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that alters the way your brain functions. Effects are usually temporary but can include headaches and problems with concentration, memory, balance and coordination. Although concussions usually are caused by a blow to the head, they can also occur when the head and upper body are violently shaken. These injuries can cause a loss of consciousness, but most concussions do not. Because of this, some people have concussions and don't realize it. 
Remember that you can use Google Maps to track all of the locations being mentioned. (This annotation contains a link)
Noa is certainly becoming accustomed to losing things throughout this novel. What are other things that were important to Noa, that she had to lose? Use details from the text to support your response. 

Chapter Eighteen

Peter's parents are not the most trustworthy people out there. Which of the following details best demonstrates that Peter's parents know more then they're letting on? 
Seems like Noa has boys on the brain - despite all the attempts on her life. Does getting a new thymus make you suddenly interested in all the boys around you? 
Why is it hard for Noa to admit that what Zeke did was smart? 
Now that we are near the end of Noa's story, describe how what happened to her throughout Don't Turn Around relate to the allusion to Persephone's myth. How is Noa like Persephone? Use details from the text in your response. 

Chapter Nineteen

Why can't Bob look Peter in the eyes? 
It seems like Peter is learning more and more to be compassionate and worry about others.  
Peter's experience with Mr. Mason and AMRF have left him acting _________. 
Why would Noa being with Zeke bother Peter so much? 

Homework #25

This message is reminiscint of the one at the end of The Matrix. Both are messages to the greater world that change is coming and a call to action to join the movement.  (This annotation contains a video)