It’s disappointing when a book about teenagers getting telepathy manages to feel like any other teen novel complete with cheating, dating, and school relationships. Don’t Even Think About It starts with an interesting premise: twenty-two Bloomberg High School students from Tribeca (a wealthy area of Manhattan) develop telepathy after receiving flu vaccines from the school nurse, but it quickly devolved into a teens doing normal teen things who just happened to be able to hear thoughts plot. To be fair I can easily see how the story could appeal to younger readers; I can remember a time when life would have been much easier if I had been able to screen my anxieties by knowing exactly what my classmates were thinking. However, as an adult reader wanting to see teens doing something extraordinary with their new powers, even though I ripped through it at a rapid pace, Don’t Even Think About It fell very flat.
My primary complaint with the book is that the narration bounced between first person plural and third person which made it extremely difficult to pinpoint the narrator. The implication is that the teens morph into some type of hive mind as they grow into their new abilities, but the full development isn’t explored in this book! There are strong hints of continuing the story with sequels, but I disliked the introduction of something not truly explored or even tangentially explained except as an aside at the very end of the novel. As a result I felt a little confused about how to identify with the speaker, and the narration felt a little frenetic. Mlynowski also uses a very terse writing style, which added to my sense of unnecessary busy-ness as I read. However, the writing style and dialogue felt genuine for teenagers, and younger readers may find the short, snappy writing more palatable given that they are constantly inundated with quick access media.
The characters came across as reasonable representations of teenagers even though I didn’t like many of them by the end of the story. There were just so many characters being thrown at me! I could keep them straight, but I had a little bit of overload with each of their stories. My issues with the fast pace of the narration had roots in the number of characters as well since a large number had individual storylines showing what they learned by hearing their parents’ and other family members’ thoughts. Personally I would have preferred fewer primary focus characters because it could have tightened the plot a little.
Overall, Don’t Even Think About It feels like an introduction to a much longer series. It barely scratches the surface of the teens’ new found telepathy and essentially uses ESP as a metaphor for the isolation most teens feel. It’s going to hit all the right notes for the target audience, but it left me disappointed that it didn’t go further. There’s potential for something greater than another teen novel in the concept, but it never stretches itself beyond bubblegum lit.
3.5 Dark Glasses Out of 5
Don’t Even Think About It will be available on March 11, 2014 wherever books are sold.