Book review: Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

4 Jul

do not becomeWhen Liv and Nora decide to take their husbands and children on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled. The ship’s comforts and possibilities seem infinite. But when they all go ashore in beautiful Central America, a series of minor mishaps lead the families further from the ship’s safety.

One minute the children are there, and the next they’re gone.

What follows is a heart-racing story told from the perspectives of the adults and the children, as the distraught parents – now turning on one another and blaming themselves – try to recover their children and their shattered lives.

Do Not Become Alarmed is a little different from the other books that I’ve read lately. Every so often I like to step out of my comfort zone and although I don’t read many thrillers, I was intrigued by this story of a family cruise that goes wrong when the children go missing – surely every parent’s worst nightmare?!

The story was much more dramatic than I’d anticipated and I’d describe this book as a blockbuster missing child drama. It has everything from drug cartels, crocodiles and police corruption to car chases and murder and within exotic yet threatening Central American locations, I could see it being made into a film.

I found the storyline a little far-fetched in places, but I did enjoy this book as an escapist read. Do Not Become Alarmed is perfect reading for those who like their summer holiday reads with plenty of drama and I enjoyed the build-up of tension and the twists and turns that the story took.

I also enjoyed the psychological aspect of the story as the events that unfold bring out the best and worst of the parents of the missing children. Liv and Nora are cousins and for a number of reasons have decided to escape the confines of an American family Christmas for an all-expenses paid cruise. Together with their husbands Liv and Nora each have two children – a boy and a girl each and each child has their own strengths and weaknesses. I liked how the first section of the book lulled me into a sense of luxurious security and allowed me to get to know the children and their parents, laying the foundations for the events to come.

The children go missing when an excursion from the trip doesn’t go to plan. From this point the story splits into two separate narratives; that of Nora and the other parents desperately searching for their children and a narrative that follows the children as they try to get back to their parents. There were plenty of questions as I read and the story keeps a good pace with developments moving back and forth. I could not have predicted what would happen to the children which made this a gripping read.

My reaction to the parents’ parts of the book was interesting too; I found that I didn’t have a whole lot of sympathy for any of them but like a good soap opera, I wanted to know what the outcome would be! As the local police try to reunite the families the spotlight is turned on the parents and with stress levels at a peak the relationships are really tested. This was great for showing the true characters of each parent and secrets and underlying stories made for compelling reading.

3/5

Do Not Become Alarmed is out now in paperback, ebook and audio formats.

I’d like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

Find out more about Maile and her writing at: https://www.mailemeloy.com/

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