Do Not Become Alarmed

By Maile Meloy

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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sam brumbeloe
This novel started out slowly and the writing seemed stilted---however, it picked up steam and told a long story of people connected by a tragedy. The ending leaves the reader wondering what happened to all these people.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
bailey
Fast paced and relatable if you are the parents of children traveling out of the country. The tone unexpectedly became darker than expected but provided plenty of discussion points for a suburban moms' bookclub!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
paul rega
Easy read, but too many stereotypes:people afraid to go aboard in Acapulco, then get caught in third world country with narcos, nonsensical affair...
Factual errors: ecuadoreans are not mayan!
Unbelievable sequences of events: herreras were not prime suspects given location?nobody hurt in red car accident? Then the train sequence with two abandoning it, then train stopped by car on track???!!! Just too much for my credulity!
Fierce :: If She Did It :: The Awakening :: A New Approach to Faith - and Spiritual Freedom :: Out of Africa (Penguin Modern Classics)
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
khoirul bariyyah
This book has been a huge disappointment. After hearing Maureen Corrigan's positive review on NPR, I was looking forward to a thrilling summer read; what I got was a superficial comedy of errors with plastic characters and a child rape scene. I would never have chosen this book had I known about the rape ahead of time. Yuck. Awful book, mediocre writing.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
benjamin adam
I was expecting a thrilling adventure, but the story was oddly lacking in suspense. The characters seemed flat and their motivation unclear. I wanted to like the book, but there was nothing especially noteworthy about it.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
viktoria jean
I enjoyed the book & it was a page-turner BUT after reading the author's previous work, I guess I expected more. Hard to articulate because I did enjoy this story, but somehow feel she's capable of more. Maybe the characters were a bit stereotypical or not fleshed out enough? Still a thrilling summer read in many respects.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
zora
This is the first book I've read by Maile Meloy, and I'm impressed. The pace did sort of die down towards the very end. I assume if they ever make this into a movie, the last few scenes of the book will be chucked. But still a very exciting and well-written story about the illusion of safety that we Americans carry around with us...
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tessa mckinley
Molloy jolts the reader in a very subtle way. She juxtaposes the privileged lives of Americans with those less privileged Central Americans ( or any person from a less developed country)-enough to give us pause, to empathize and to understand.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
crankyfacedknitter
It's a well-written story, but as some have said, this is a bit too neatly wrapped up. Honestly, I had issues with the entitled culture of the two families. It was very hard to feel a lot of empathy for them.
The children, on the other hand, are the more interesting characters of this read.

It's a quick, entertaining ride but not more than that.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
tania james
I pre-ordered this book based on the recommendations from Entertainment Weekly. I read about 2/3 of it, but I'm giving up now. It's very poorly written and boring. Believe me, you will not be "up all night" reading this. Do yourself a favor and save your money.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
omarelassal
I literally threw the book across the room after 100 pages. Written for a 12 year old. Read reviews that said it was a "page-turner" and that you'd stay up all night reading it. I guess I'd read it if I were in a prison cell, but that's about it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
petr pra k
I almost gave up on this book a few chapters in - I felt it wasn't well written and was choppy with character development.... but boy am I glad I didn't put it down! I loved it - as the book progressed each character was fully developed. This is a book that will make you think about family, relationships, class, and how we all respond in response to tragedy. A must read!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
richard ladew
To me, this excellent book is about being on the edge. It certainly keeps you on the edge of your seat — effortlessly, and throughout almost all of its length — but that’s not really the edge I mean. The book puts us on the (sometimes literally) bleeding edge between cultures, races, countries, languages, generations -- even species. To say nothing of the jagged edge between the truth and the lies we tell -- to ourselves and others -- to stay sane. The author has a firm grip on her story, her characters and her language. The story -- filled with subtlety and suspense. The characters -- rich and varied, as the point of view constantly switches and you find yourself experiencing a complex story through wildly divergent sets of eyes. The language -- simple but colorful and evocative. I've read most of Maile Meloy's books, including her middle grade novels (which my kids and I loved), and the great thing about her is that you always feel you're in confident, capable hands. This latest page turner is no exception. I recommend it strongly.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
monica guidroz
Was this written for an adult audience? Aside from a few R rated scenes, this read like a Disney adventure that didn't make the cut. Poorly formed characters too numerous to count or care about. Sorry I committed to the bitter end.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
rdgtchr
The characters didn't feel that real to me. Especially when Nora goes in the woods to fool around with Pedro. I just felt no one would leave their kids swimming to run off into the woods for a quickie. Especially as she had never done it beforehand. The husbands seemed to be lacking in personality, they weren't well developed characters at all. I could go on, but it was ok for killing time at the hospital.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
fredrik karlsson
When I finished, I thought "is this it?" What a phenomenal waste of my time and money. I'm not sure where they got these rave reviews. The story was not cohesive, and there wasn't enough time spent on each character to develop them. This is the kind of book that you've already forgotten as soon as you finish. Shallow, and completely unrealistic. Skip it.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
emorgan05
I've always loved Maile Meloy's writing, especially her short stories, but this novel proved disappointing. The premise is that two couples go on a cruise together and their children disappear somewhere in South America. One would think that there would be a lot of adventure, heart ache, complexity of emotions, and mystery. While these things were partially present, the novel lacked good characterization. Without good character development, the rest of the book lost its focus.

The two wives on the cruise are cousins who have been very close since childhood. Each of the couples have two children. The two couples meet up with an Argentine couple who also have two children. One day, when the boat docks on shore, the guys decide to golf and the wives decide to take their children zip lining. The zip lining shore excursion is supposed to be sanctioned by the cruise line. The guide, Pedro, experiences a flat tire and the car gets into an accident. Instead of zip lining, the group decides to go to a beach that Pedro says is safe. Two of the mothers fall asleep on shore, one wanders off in the jungle, and the next thing they know is that the children have disappeared.

As the families try to coalesce in order to find their children, enmity strikes. There is blaming, character attacks, and hidden agendas coming to the surface. They try working with the police but soon realize that the police department is inefficient at best and corrupt at worst.

Each of the characters felt like a different Barbie Doll version. There was no uniqueness to them and each could have been pulled from any ubiquitous romance series. As I read the novel, I saw the characters as outlines for people that might have had depth if the author had further developed them. Unfortunately she didn't, and the book lacks most of the redeeming qualities found in the author's earlier works. (less)
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
daniah
I made it to 14%. It may not be fair to review a book based on such a short attempt at the reading, but there it is.

I can't remember where I read a list of recommended summer reads that convinced me to give this a go, but I'm disappointed. The writing is terribly bland. I sense no emotions from these characters. Thus far, the story goes like this, "This thing happened. Then I went over here. I did this. She did that. Later, we all did another thing." The dialogue lacks spark. The action is matter-of-fact. The interior monologues are dull.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
gwennie
Pre-ordered this book and saved it for vacation. Finally, and thankfully, am done with it, and can move on to something better. Characters were not well developed and therefore I was getting them mixed up, as another reviewer mentioned. The writing was basic and I especially hated the ending. Do not waste your time on this one!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
suzette
I'm afraid I didn't get on with this book at all It is billed as heart-racing story, but I simply found it unengaging and rather dull.

As the publisher's synopsis reveals, two wealthy and successful American families go on a Christmas cruise to Central America, where their children become separated from the adults. It takes about 75 pages to get to this point, and those pages are filled with details of characters' lives and their activities on the cruise which I found unconvincing, pretty boring and not very well-written. I'm afraid things don't improve much once the plot finally kicks in. I just didn't find the story very plausible and I thought the characters were rather thin and in some cases a bit stereotypic. I slogged dutifully on to the end, but I rather wish I hadn't bothered because the book didn't engage me in any way.

I'm sorry to be so critical, but that's the truth of it. Others may well enjoy this more than I did, but I really can't recommend it.

(I received an ARC via Netgalley.)
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
nyana miller
This book had an exciting premise and some good tense moments.

I felt rather uncomfortable with the main characters' "let's not go on shore here because all they do is behead people in this country" attitude, and later with the way things went down with Oscar, among other things.

I kept getting the characters confused, trying to figure out which kid was which, who belonged to which parent, which cousin was which, etc. It didn't help that we were in so many points of view which sometimes didn't feel different enough. Especially with Nora and Liv, I had to keep stopping to figure out whose head I was in.

Unfortunately, I couldn't fully invest myself in the story because I couldn't quite believe the exact circumstances of how the kids got separated. SPOILER ALERT. If you're the type who won't even go ashore in Mexico or Guatemala or whichever unnamed country they first stopped in, because you think everyone in a country is out to murder you, then their behavior when they finally go ashore is hard to believe. Granted, they're in the "Switzerland of Central America" with a 98% literacy rate. This unnamed country has to be Costa Rica. But they were so terrified of going on shore in the "dangerous" countries that you'd think they'd at least be a little wary here. Yet they let the guide take them to a secluded beach and let their children play in the water while they fall asleep? I'm not judging their parenting. I'm just saying that it's inconsistent with their earlier ethnocentric and grossly inflated fears. That's the first thing I couldn't believe. The second is the current that swept the six children and teenagers from the beach UP the river so far and hard they couldn't swim back or call for help or see the beach. And it did this so fast that none of them noticed and yelled out to their sleeping mothers while it was happening? Okay, so...currents going up rivers do happen, but the only type I know that fits here is a bore tide. So I did some quick internet research. Bore tides have only been recorded in about 65 places in the world, though more probably happen, but you'd think the local guide would know about it and warn them. It appears that when it does happen there's a lot of turbulance, often a loud roaring sound, and an actual wave. Not ONE of the six kids or teenagers noticed this happening, while it was pushing them into the jungle? The noise didn't wake the parents? No tourists were there to watch this strange phenomenon? I just found it hard to believe. Maybe my internet research and general knowledge of the world is all wrong, but I needed a better explanation. Because it was so hard to believe, the rest seemed somehow less real too. END SPOILERS

I did want them all to have a happy ending. The writing was smooth enough to hurry me along, and the situation went skillfully and suspensefully from bad to worse, but many of the key moments happened off stage.

The blame and anger between the parents was pretty powerful.

I did rather like the way it went beyond the finale to show some of the effects of the trauma, and some of that was powerful, but I'm not sure it quite captured the pernicious fangs of PTSD or the deeper ways this would change their lives.

And...did everyone need to use the F word quite so much? It started feeling very gratuitous.

WARNING: graphic sex scenes, including rape, and lots of profanity.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
floriaan
WARNING SPOILERS!
Do not become alarmed is the first book that I have experienced by Maile Meloy and as a whole, I found it ok.
It wasn't awful and I did finish it but it failed to grab, falling a bit flat for me, I found myself emotionally uninvested in the characters, in fact, I actually down-right disliked some of them.
So overall this really made it pretty hard for me to connect with the story.
I am actually rather disappointed with this one considering how much I was looking forward to it as the description is what initially pulled me into this, it made "Do Not Be Alarmed" sound so much more than what it
is.First things first this review is going to be a bit spoilery, so fair warning. look away now folks, you have been advised.
and also a trigger warning, there is a rape of a teenager (14) in this tale so avoid if this is an issue for you, it's not graphic but it's there all the same.
So the general premise is that Nora and Liv (who are cousins) and there hubby's, along with their four kids take a cruise and during a ship excursion they go missing along with a couple kids they have met on the holiday.
The story then flits from parents to children, so you really get to see this incident, which is every parent's worst nightmare, from both sides.
So what worked for me with this, Well the whole scenario is really imaginative and as I said earlier the synopsis itself is a real puller.
You get to see the vast contrast between the lives of our families and the poverty surrounding them while lost in Central America, it's such an eye-opener in that respect.
Also, some of the inner monologues are fairly amusing, there was one in particular that made me smile when Nora is thinking of Penny.
"Nora recognised this for the humble brag it was and thought she had never known a more slappable child."
We have all known a child that just rubs us up the wrong way while in their parent's eyes there such little angels.
actually, I found Penny a right know all little madam as well so completely get you, Nora.
We get to see everything collapse inwards and disintegrate with all the players then seeming to turn on each other.
It's a complete car crash as the once two close families fall apart at the seams each blaming the other.
Now for the negatives, the characters themselves were an unlikable bunch which made it for me hard to find that connection with them, this, in turn, made it, oh so hard to empathise with their situation.
Yeah, I felt for them but with a very disconnected vibe.
I also found the kid's reactions odd,
I'm a mum of five and I know if this sort of thing happened to any of them they would be totally freaking out I mean major meltdowns and my kids are not drama queens at all, in fact, I would think most children would be like this.
The kids in this were so calm and collected it was unreal.
Even Isabella after being raped was so indifferent to what had happened, I myself tried to put her reaction down to shock, but it was not how I would imagine a fourteen-year-old child, upon being violated behaves.
I also didn't understand the relevance of Neomi and her uncle it felt like they were just included to show the contrast of wealth and poverty between our characters. overall I found them a pretty pointless addition.
One final gripe was Poor Gunter I really thought at some point during this story we would have revisited him properly, not just assumed his fate he really got a crappy deal in all this.
I said final but I've just thought of one more the ending I didn't like it at all it seemed so unconnected and abrupt.
And that's all folks.
So overall I found this was an alright read, It kept me amused for a few hours, but it just didn't quite do it for me.
Thank you to NetGalley, Penguin UK and The author for supplying me with an advanced reader copy of "Do Not Become Alarmed" this is my own honest unbiased opinion.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
winda
Nora and Liv are cousins and decide to take their families on a cruise over Christmas and the New Year. As someone who is desperate to go on a cruise I was instantly interested in this story when it was offered to me. I thought............what could possibly go wrong!? The first few chapters of the book leads the readers into a false sense of security with both sets of families enjoying themselves and relaxing. They are close, sharing many aspects of their lives and everyone seems to get on. During the cruise they befriend a family from Argentina and while docked in Central America the men decide to go and play golf while the women and children book themselves on a zip line adventure day. However, things don't go according to plan and a flat tyre and car accident soon sees the familes plans change and a dramatic course of events sees all 6 children go missing. Where are they? Who has them? Are they still alive?

The interesting thing for me was how quickly the relationship dynamics changed between Liv and Nora when faced with the mounting terror of not knowing whether their children are alive or dead. The Argentinian couple Gunther and Camila are isolated because they are not American and Gunther feels the blame lies with the American women and not his own wife, believing that the Americans should have been more responsible. There seems to be a lot of secrecy involving Pedro the tour guide. Just what went on during that day? Everyone is playing the blame game, saying and doing stupid things. The book cleverly explores how even the most sensible people can make the stupidest mistakes when faced with the most unimaginable circumstances. The relationship between the children too soon becomes one that is changed forever by their experiences.

When I picked this book up I had planned to spend a couple of hours getting stuck into it and then finishing it the next day. However, by midnight I was still there reading and couldn't put it down. Its a fantastic and gripping read and as a mother who lost both her children in the supermarket for a mere 5 minutes, I cannot begin to imagine the pain, anguish and frustration of losing children in a foreign country where the police do not seem to be terribly helpful and the language barrier creates all manner of difficulty. I found the tension mounting throughout the book and while the conclusion was not what I had entirely expected it was not an unsatisfactory ending. The reader is left wondering what could have been done differently by the parents, the police and even the children themselves. A highly recommended read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
arkadiusz gorka
DO NOT BECOME ALARMED begins on a cruise ship and focuses primarily on two families. How, then, could this book be a thriller? Oh, there are all sorts of ways, as author Maile Meloy demonstrates on this surprising little foray into the third world in which the characters --- or at least some of them --- jump from frying pan to pot to frying pan with the same aplomb that Little Eva navigated the ice floes in UNCLE TOM’S CABIN. Are you ready for it?

When I read and review a novel, I like to take notes that include how I might pitch the book to an editor or a movie producer. For DO NOT BECOME ALARMED, I wrote, “Deliverance mashup with Lord of the Flies. That’s not quite accurate, but it’s generally true. It’s a fish-out-of-water book (a term that’s sadly ironic in the story’s context) that contains enough plausible parts to make me wonder if Meloy combined a number of real-world vignettes to create this tale that will have you reading all night long to find out what does and does not happen on a vacation that two cousins, their husbands and their children take and ultimately wish they had not.

The cousins are Liv and Nora, best friends for life who corralled their husbands and children in what is supposed to be the vacation of a lifetime. Liv, who puts together movie deals, is married to Benjamin, one of those nerdy and, yes, indispensable architect-engineer types. They have two children: Sebastian, who is eight (and possesses one of the ticking clocks that propel the book) and the somewhat precocious and occasionally irritating Penny, who is 11. Nora is married to Raymond, an actor who she met through Liv. They also have two children, Marcus and June.

All is well --- they even make friends with another family from Argentina --- until they go ashore in what is obviously Costa Rica for separate excursions in which the men go golfing while the women and children go ziplining. The ladies and kids, however, quickly run afoul of the local infrastructure with the result that they not only don’t get to go screaming down a hillside but also get separated while one mom is sleeping and the other... But that would be telling. The point is that the children find themselves lost in the Costa Rican jungle until they are found, at which point it would have been better if they had stayed lost. They’re not in a good place, and they’ve seen something they weren’t supposed to see.

Meanwhile, their parents are frantic. The blame game starts. The local U.S. embassy is somewhat limited in what it can do. There are issues...but that would be telling, too. Not everything or everyone from the beginning of the story makes it to the end. Meloy ratchets up the suspense until you’ll beg her to tell you what happens. She does, at the end of the book. Don’t skip ahead. You’ll be sorry if you do.

You won’t want to take a cruise after reading DO NOT BECOME ALARMED. If you do somehow get cajoled/forced/persuaded to set foot on one of those floating germ castles and watch terra firma fade out of sight, you surely won’t want to leave the civilized confines of your ship when it lands at ports of call for what the brochures so enticingly describe as “shore excursions,” among other things. In addition, you may find yourself having second thoughts about leaving the country in general, or even your state, or, yes indeed, your neighborhood. There is also the chance that you will have to mightily resist the urge to forever forbid your children from leaving your sight, if you are not at that point already. Enjoy this scary trip vicariously.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
lici beveridge
What happens when one decision turns into your worst nightmare? Maile Meloy's newest novel explores this question when two cousins and their families go on a cruise to South America.

During an expedition off the ship, a group of passengers explore a local beach. A group of men tied to the drug ring kidnap several children who'd accidentally stumbled upon the aftermath of a murder. This happens when their mothers weren't paying attention. Nora and Liv's worlds come crashing down as the police struggle to come up with leads due to internal corruption.

Naturally once everyone gets over the initial shock and face reality, they start to play the blame game. Whose fault was it? Was it Nora's who sauntered off to the forest with the tour guide? Or Liv who fell asleep when she was supposed to be on watch?

The premise of this novel was very alluring—two American families go on what was supposed to be a relaxing vacation with their children but the children are taken, with little to no information on who took them. Instead of getting the story from the perspective of the parents, the author gives us the children's side of the story as well, which was an interesting angle. But at the same time, that took the suspense and mystery out of it.

The writing itself was very dull and lifeless. The characters were flat, lackluster, and extremely unlikable without any defining or redeeming qualities. I don't feel like any of them truly changed or evolved from beginning to end. The main thing that kept me from enjoying this book more was that I felt like the author was just telling me the story as opposed to allowing me to feel it. It very much felt like she was giving the reader a play-by-play of this happened and then this and then this.

Audiobook comments:

The author narrated this book. Her diction and speaking voice was pleasant and not a distraction. But being as though much of the novel is narrated by characters who speak Spanish, the accents she used weren't great. I think the audiobook would have benefitted from someone with more experience with accents.

* Thank you to Penguin Random House Audio for providing me with this audiobook. Receiving this audiobook for free did not affect my opinion.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
polly forns
Maile Maloy certainly does have a lot of ideas. Her latest, Do Not Become Alarmed, is a fast-paced and absorbing story filled with familiar tropes designed to draw in a wide spectrum of thriller readers. Do you like “children in constant extreme peril” stories? Multicultural characters that experience a clash of values as fish-out-of-water? Stories about South American political corruption, chronic disease, the plight of refugees, Hollywood entitlement and infidelity? Perhaps a bit of kidnapping and a grueling sexual assault with a side of murder? If those don’t draw you in, this novel also includes a moving train, car chase and gator attack. Normally, you would wear out your library card trying to experience all these storylines, but with this book you can have it all-hurled in your direction at breakneck speed.
Liv and Nora are cousins that are so close-knit they decide to embark together with their families on a cruise to South America. Life is good: These two women are happy and comfortably well-off due to their Hollywood connections and, of course, the kids get along great. They meet another family from Argentina on the ship, and they all make plans to try out some shore excursions. The men want to golf, but the rest want to explore and, of course, all six kids go with the women. The group splits up, and as any veteran reader of thrillers knows, this is an open invitation for disaster. The narration switches between some of the characters, providing a semi-omniscient viewpoint from which the reader can experience all aspects of the distressing events. The trick is to keep track of who is who.
Have you ever seen one of those improv shows where the audience yells out some random nouns and situations, and the performers attempt to combine them to create a coherent scene? Do Not Become Alarmed quickly becomes a quagmire of plot devices and storylines that seem to have been thrown in haphazardly. The reader is left with a feeling that the author is hoping that he/she will be caught up in the fever pitch, and will just accept that everything combines seamlessly together. One of the character arcs even seems like it could possibly belong in another book. This is a novel so overwhelmed by its competing ambitions that it cannot quite gain focus, and the resulting effect invokes a feeling like: “What Just Happened?” Like with any thrill ride, if you can just roll with it and suspend disbelief for its duration, Maloy’s book can provide some transitory enjoyment.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rebeccamichals
Liv feels that her cousin could use a change of scenery. She understands that her cousin wants to celebrate Christmas, but just can't seem to want to be around family. So Liv plans a cruise trip for both families so they can celebrate in a non-traditional way. On the trip, something awful happens and it throws everybody's lives upside down.

So I started this book and was like great. We have a bunch of spoiled rich people who are used to getting their way all the time. I'm just going to LOVE this book. Needless to say, I was wrong. While the characters were a bit shallow most of the time, it did show that they were very deeply flawed and insecure. I liked the fact that this book was written in many different points of view. It helped a lot with the story.

I pretty much gave the only thing I didn't like about this book in my initial thoughts on the book. There wasn't really much I didn't like. I both listened to and read this book. I loved it. The narrator did a fantastic job, but the narrator is the author so it's kind of obvious she'd do a fantastic job. I am glad I listened to it. There were many names I wasn't pronouncing properly.

I gave this book a full five-star rating because of how amazing it was. I do have to be fair and say that there are certain scenes in the book that can be triggering. If you are sensitive to more darker subjects, you should probably avoid this books. If you like to read thrillers, this is a perfect book. It keeps you on edge until the very end!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
rick reed
The truth is always revealed when you reached the end of the story.

“He kept thinking of old news footage of the fall of Saigon, those last-minute helicopters off the roof. He and his family had escaped, leaving chaos behind them. It was the American way.” (page 311)

It is, of course, an enormous euphemism, the understatement of the last millennium. It is not only chaos Americans left behind them but millions of dead and wounded people, a country impregnated with chemicals, Agent Orange and many other bombs, mines, ruins and so many horrors, human and material, that are not healed even more than forty years later. This concluding remark though is a direct allusion to what the USA has been doing in the world, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq and Syria and many other places all over the world since 2001 and even before or between Saigon 1975 and WTC 2001, not to expand too much on all their lost wars since 1945.

But here we have a novel and this revealing sentence is only at the end. The novel is a story and the concluding balance of this thriller is particularly negative. Two American families, one Jewish and the other half black half Jewish, the two wives of these two families being Jewish cousins, go on a sea cruise and get lost in some drug dealing Mesoamerican place, lost and entangled in it with their children captured more or less as hostages. These two families and their children will come back without any human loss. But on the cruise, they got in contact with an Argentinian family with two children too. This third family will get entangled with the entanglement of the two entangled American families. But they will come back with their son eaten up by crocodiles and their daughter raped by one of the two drug dealers who abducted the (five) children. Note the diabolical pentacle of the five chidren captured by the drug dealers as compared to the three times two, hence six original children, hence Solomon’s wisdom and David’s star. From Jewish wisdom to satanic paganism.

What’s more one drug dealer will end up dead. The other will end up vanished into thin American air, probably in California or who cares where. The housekeeper of the drug dealers will try to make the five children that had been captured escape and her son will drive them away rebuilding thus a sextuple figure – what an adventure! The son will end up prosecuted in a way or another in his Mesoamerican country for the killing of a man he did not kill but one of the children under his “care” did kill, though that real killer is Argentinian. The Americans are clean, though they cover up the cover-up and the Argentinian father pays for a lawyer for the Mesoamerican boy who accepts to take the murder on his own hands provided a girl who was being transferred by the murdered man to her paperless parents in New York be delivered to her parents and these parents and the girl be provided with legal papers. That’s the only thing the Americans actually clean up. The rest of the mess stays behind.

If you’re able to overlook this American mess and deal with this novel as a plain thriller and not a metaphor of American imperialism, you will enjoy it. It is dynamic when it finally leaves Los Angeles on the cruise ship and when the three families get entangled in their entanglements with drug dealers. Dynamic, fast running, creative, inventive, full of imagination at times completely distorted and twisted out of proportion and reason, the thriller is worth reading, though the final chapters are trying to establish some American peace of mind for the American actors of the story, certainly not for the readers. The book is definitely not colorblind and the black husband of one family, as well as the two brown children of this family, are identified as black and brown and you are reminded of it regularly all along. That sure is a good point.

We cannot say the same on the Jewish side of one family and the wife of the second family. It is said and even repeated that they are Jewish but there is not one single element of Jewishness that is put down on the table. Since we are in the Yule season, since we have Christmas and New Year we could have had Hanukkah, but we don’t. We could have had some distance from the Catholic Christmas celebrations, from the Catholic references in Mesoamerica, and an emphasis on the Catholic role of a priest who saves the last batch of children from the jungle (the novel only mentions the priest’s greedy desire to get the reward), etc. The catholic constant reference is just that, constant, and the Jewish reference is just a circumstantial allusion. Then since one of the two Jewish wives is at least unstable if not paranoid and psychotic, we can attribute that to her Jewishness. Since the other Jewish wife manages to have a quick and true enough superficial fingering affair with the Mesoamerican guide of the outing she takes part in and that will end up so badly, we can attribute that to her Jewishness. At least the two Jewish wives and mothers are at best matushkas or mamochkas, possessive mothers, but basically unstable and untrustworthy wives and mothers. The picture of the Jewish women is particularly sorry and sad.

But the Black man and his mother are shown in very contrasting shades of social behavior. The man is very generous and forgiving in front of his wife’s shortcomings both as a wife and as a mother: she neglects looking after her kids in an improvised situation in some Mesoamerican jungle to have an encounter with the guide who neglects his own responsibilities to have that evanescent and quick satisfaction with the wife and mother. The mother of this black man is also very generous with her daughter-in-law who has put her son’s balance at risk and who has caused the catastrophe of one child’s death and five children’s kidnapping. We could definitely expect a stronger and stricter reaction from both the black husband and father and the black grandmother and mother-in-law. In other words, the novel is disappointing in realism as for the depicting of the Jewish characters and the Black characters. The Mesoamerican and southern American characters are just bystanders and circumstantial agents, and I wonder if the father in this southern American family is not more constructive and positive because he is of German heritage, and sure enough the mother of this third family is not very brilliant.

We could wonder if the author is not settling accounts with her concept of “mother” or with her own mother herself. Even the housekeeper of the drug dealers is not depicted in very positive colors and rather as an irresponsible person sending her own son on a catastrophic apocalyptic mission out of which he comes stained, charged with a murder he had not committed, and he will have to carry this blame forever in his life: imagine his future in this Mesoamerican country where drug dealing is the central and main economic activity.

But it sure is entertaining as a caricature of Americans on vacation in an imperialistically dominated country. Americans are mess-dealers everywhere they put their big shoes down. Crush! Crush! Go their boots everywhere, on everything, on every body and all bodies, and I really mean bodies, they may encounter on their path. They should go around carrying a sign around their necks, both back and front, saying “BEWARE! AMERICAN TROUBLE MAKERS!” And I am sure some Americans are going to hate me for spreading this simple truth.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
menna fahmi
Do Not Become Alarmed starts off very quaint as the two families begin their holiday on board ship, the trip was Liv's idea as her cousin Nora's mother had recently died and she thought it would be a lovely way for them all to relax and forget their problems.

And at the beginning it was perfect, everyone was getting along, the children loved being on board and all was wonderful in their world.

But, after a day trip to another country in Central America by the wives and the children, somehow they take their eyes off them and the next thing they know they have disappeared.

What follows next becomes quite a dark read as the reader knows exactly what's happened to the children and where they are and sometimes it makes for uncomfortable but absolutely riveting reading.

Meanwhile, at the same time, the parents don't have any idea where they are and are panicking and picking fights with each other, blaming each other, feeling guilty and wondering if they've kept them isolated too much and protected them too much from the real world. We see the changing situation through each of their eyes in turn, which I though worked really well. The way in which the children coped with the situation they were in was particularly interesting to watch.

I really enjoyed reading this clever, taut, unpredictable and, in some parts, scary novel.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
tamarah cristobal
Wow this book was sure different for me, than it was for many others based on all of the praise and hype it received.
1. For me this book was as not a thriller in any sense of the imagination. Like watching a movie such as Top Gun, as soon as you heard each pilots callsign/nickname you knew who wouldn't be around at the end of the movie, the same was true of this book.
2. There were two sex scenes if you want to call them that, the first one is as sexy and steamy as a set of IKEA instructions. The second one was so completely implausible and was made raunchier than the first with the addition of a couple of four letter words, oh my!
3. The writing was like what you would find in a Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew mystery. It was very basic.
The two American couples were stereotypical, loaded with cliches and never surprised me. If you enjoy husbands who are boring and predictable, and wives who are socially conscious, devoutly liberal, concerned about the planet, the way poor immigrants are treated who just want to come to America, the fact that Americans behave entitled, and expect the world to do all their bidding, oh and these couples have pretentious and or precocious children, and they all reside in either Southern California or NYC, then this will be a great book for you this summer when you are finished with the latest New Yorker.
Obviously this was not the book for me.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
alisia compton
It was Liv’s idea, she always had good ideas, it would just be their two families over the Christmas holiday, taking the two-week cruise, relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. They soon met another family on the ship and it almost seemed too perfect, everyone enjoying the cruise line’s entertainment, food and drinks. There were six adults and six children, every couple had two children, how perfect was that. They hadn’t planned on taking an excursion but they were getting cabin fever so the wives decided to take the children ziplining and the husbands were going to go play golf inland. With a guide from the ship, the wives and children set off on their outing. Car problems attack their plans and their car is now useless, putting them on the side of the road. They decide to trek down to a beach which was just down the road, and it is now that I start to freak out. I try to remain positive but I know what can happen and well, things do go from bad to worse as one thing leads to another. What is wrong with these people!?! Are they drugged?! Don’t they remember where they are at?!? Get a grip! They are in a foreign country with their small children and they are acting like they do not have a care in the world. Soon, both of the mothers realize that their children are not with them on the beach. Not there, how can this be?!? What the mothers were doing while their children vanished will horrify you but even worse is that one of the children has a medical condition that needs constant monitoring and perhaps medication and he is among those that are missing. The husbands, they were off golfing, enjoying their quiet game of golf unbeknownst to the car troubles and to their new plans that their wives had made but soon they will be brought up to speed and locating their children, will become the top priority. Image finding yourself in a foreign country and your children have vanished. Your vacation cruise ship is ready to set sail to its next destination and you have no clue where their children went. This is just the beginning of the story, the story becomes more intense and engaging with each passing page.

I felt that this story was mesmerizing and entertaining. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to the characters in the story and I needed to know any history to help put this story together. I felt that the storyline was excellent but I also felt that the execution of the story could have been better. I thought that my own emotions and the situations that were played out in the novel brought about the intensity I felt while I was reading. Word choice or style by the author didn’t help create this intensity which is what I thought this novel was missing. The plot and story was there, it was the mannerism in which it was presented that I thought could have be tweaked. I was so angry at some of the adults in this novel, at their immaturity and their carefree attitude, that it had me screaming at them. I’m glad that I reserved this novel as it made me think and it definitely got me riled up. It was a good one!
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
varun ramakrishna
Especially after so many rave reviews. This book will certainly reinforce all the preconceptions of timorous travelers and keep them firmly at home!

The basic theme is how quickly an affluent and tranquil life can become prey to disaster. This is a well trodden literary path but there is always room for something new. However, This author’s approach is to festoon this central theme to a Christmas tree of subsequent consequential traumas. I read faster and faster as event piled upon event. Perhaps this was originally serialized with each chapter needing a new drama?

it was tough enough having eight names (two families) to keep track of but it then expanded to twelve with various additional walk on parts.

I counted at least the following sub themes:

Parental inattention

Personal loss

Car crashes (without serious injury except to the bad guy)

Guns

Kidnapping

Diabetes

Miscegenation

Race

Marital infidelity

Child rape

Death by crocodile

Psychopath

Murder

Drugs

Corrupt police

Maybe Writers’ workshops require all these boxes to be checked? I hope not. I might just reread Les Miserables!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
doug turnbull
This novel arrived in our office, billed as “Your Ticket To The Biggest Thriller of the Summer”… promised are sunshine, warm weather, missing children… all spelled out on a boarding card issued by Penguin Airlines. Intrigued? We certainly were, a perfect advert for #literarywanderlust!

This is a thriller with multi faceted strands that roil around like an octopus as the story unfolds. Liv and Nora, cousins, have persuaded their spouses and children to venture on a cruise over the Christmas and New Year holidays down towards Central America. Two families, four children. They meet up with an Argentinian couple – also with two children – on the boat. Confined on a ship, there are all the anticipated tensions of growing friendship groups and family dynamics.

The first port of call offers the men a chance to show off their golf prowess; the women, with all their children in tow, choose to head off to experience the thrills of a zip wire. The minibus arrives, they pile in and are off on the various excursions. But it is the transport for the women and children that fails, a blow-out and small crash leaves them wobbled but unharmed. Pedro, their driver suggests they head to a nearby beach to while away the time whilst replacement transport is found. Off they amble towards the beach. Mum Nora is soon off into the undergrowth with Pedro purportedly looking for blue-crowned motmots; the other two mums are lulled into sleep. The children are entertaining themselves in the water with rubber inner tubes.

But the tide turns and pushes the youngsters away from the beach, inland and up the river. The mothers don’t notice their disappearance – one being preoccupied, the other two still out for the count. And from this point on the frantic search is on. It is the odyssey of the childrens’ journey and survival and – or not – that keeps the reader hooked in. Drug barons, train journeys, crocodiles, another car crash and much more, all make for ample fuel to keep this gripping tale on the move.

The story is as much about fight and flight as it is about the relationships within the adult group as they bide their time for news. The parents are brought up short by the the thought that they may have lost their children (obviously!) and what the consequences would be for them as individuals, couples and being childless. Burgeoning mutually supportive relationships amongst the children develop, whose ages span a good 10 years, each child locked into a developmental stage and clutching at survival. Stress and trauma abound. The children are hugely resourceful compared with the generally rather vacuous responses from their families.

The setting is quite evocative – the country in which they find themselves is described as the Switzerland of Central America, which you can look up to determine the exact setting (it’s an atmospheric read but the publishers are not advertising the locale specifically, as it isn’t a great advertisement for the country!!). There are plenty of hot, jungle scenes, the buzzing of weird insects, animals and dusty roads to make the landscape feel scorching and oppressive.

This is certainly a gripping novel and I read it keenly. The elision at some points between scenes and chapters was a little jerky and the separate story of little Noemi and Chuy fed in but served, for me, more as a diversion rather than integral to the structure of the story. It seemed a device to highlight the absolute poverty of the locals compared to the wealth of the typical cruising guest, adding another layer to the story. So, in some ways this book is a meditation on the societal divide between rich and poor, North and Central America – I guess a very pertinent theme at the moment!

Overall, I think this will be a winner for the coming Summer months and you will see plenty of people reading this book poolside.

This book is also the #TFBookClub read for July and early August 2017, come and join us!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
iben
This story by Maile Meloy just didn’t grab me. I found the adult characters lacking in any trace of likability. Some of the kids were OK – others were not. The story line was disjointed and the sex that was thrown in just to be there was laughable.

Fortunately I listened to the audio version and the author did manage to keep this sow on the road – but could not turn it into a silk purse.

The story in a nutshell is that the adults who are on a cruise leave the kids unattended while on a shore excursion. They do adult things and not invested while the kids are sucked up a crocodile infested river when the tide turns. The children are captured by drug lords and the rest of the book deals with getting the parents and children back together. Good premise but trite writing left me cold.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
april mossow
With the subject of this book being about missing children I decided to approach it with caution. Obviously I'm going to be sensitive to such an idea but I didn't want this to affect my enjoyment of the book so I tried to keep an open mind whilst still being prepared.

The storyline began as two families boarded a cruise ship, I learnt about the reason for the trip and where they were going. They were nice people and it should have all gone smoothly. At this point I felt edgy, waiting for the worst to happen and wondering how it would take shape.

I felt a small sense of relief when I realised that I would also be reading from the children's point of view. It might sound strange but it lessened the anxiety for me a little, almost as though I was watching over them in some way.

What happened is every parents worst nightmare and inevitably each parent played the blame game, blaming themselves and each other for their part in it. Personally the aim of my blame changed with each account of events that I read. To be perfectly honest, it was a combination of factors that led to the children's disappearance so eventually I decided that none of them could hold the blame fully on their shoulders.

This was one of those books that always has me saying 'just one more chapter' - I wanted to know what was next for the characters so I couldn't stop reading until my eyes refused to stay open any longer. When I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about the characters and wondering how they were all coping. The storyline gets in your head.

The only negative for me was that when I finished the book I didn't feel the sense of closure that I was hoping for. I felt like I needed more, although I couldn't put my finger on what exactly that 'more' was.

Do Not Become Alarmed was an addictive book, difficult to read in some ways but also difficult to put down.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jennifer boyd
Meloy's newest novel revolves around the story of two cousins and their families. The families take a cruise together to the Panama Canal which goes horribly awry when the children go missing from a shore excursion. The author's writing is spare and matter of fact. She allows the readers to form their own conclusions about the characters' motives and actions. Chapters are short and alternate point of view between the cousins, the children, and a local Central American girl who is attempting to reunite with her parents in New York. This style kept me continually wondering about what would happen next in the narrative. There was enough suspense to make me believe that there was an equal chance of a positive or negative outcome for the children's safety. Off all the characters, the two cousins were the most strongly outlined and believable. The thoughts of their husbands was a bit harder to discern. The local girl's story was not as developed as the other characters and she was obviously serving as a counterpoint to the well to do Americans. Although the ending was a bit heavy handed and moralistic, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and recommend it to anyone who enjoys a suspenseful plot with flawed but realistic and understandable characters.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
farrah
This is a difficult book to review. I gave it 4 stars as it kept me up, listening, until 5 am. Then I had to take a break to sleep but immediately picked it back up to finish. I had to know about the children. This sounds like an easy peasy 5 star, right? No. Wrong.
The story does ensnare you in its trap. I didn't find myself really liking nearly everyone, including most of the children. Some parts were difficult to read/hear. Some parts didn't make a lot of sense, (behaviors of some adults and even the children). At one point I rooted for the kidnappers! (I can handle whiny kids but at this particular point, I felt it would have been justified. If you choose to read this book, you will immediately recognize that point). It left a bad taste in my mouth after the ending settled and I sat down to write this.
Would I recommend this book? Yes, but to carefully selected individuals. It is a gripping story. It is interesting. It is one where you could find plenty to discuss. But it is not for everyone. I suspect this book might end up being placed on a lot of DNF shelves.
There is a rape scene, involving one of the older children. It was very difficult to get through. If you want to read the book but not this part, when two of the kidnappers are drinking and playing cards, jump a few pages or fast forward a couple minutes. This book is definitely intended for a mature audience.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
stephanietaggart
One bad decision leads to another and suddenly three families find themselves dealing with a nightmare while vacationing in Central America.

On a cruise to Central America, two families who also happen to be related to each other head off on an excursion while the husbands play a game of golf. On their way there, there is an accident and they, along with one other family find themselves stranded on a beach while waiting for alternate transportation. They have an experienced guide, so what could go wrong? Lots.

Sometimes you read a book because it’s just fun to read and that’s the case with Do Not Become Alarmed. It’s fast-paced, deals with a topic that every mother dreads, and leads you all over the place before arriving at its final destination.

At one point in the story I got VERY mad and I do not forgive the author for going there. Sorry, no. I do not. Right after that event, the story stopped being believable to me. The last quarter of the story was a bit of a stretch. However, reading it wasn’t a bad way to spend the afternoon and that quibble I had didn’t affect how quickly I turned the pages.

If you throw this in your beach bag or take it on an airplane, you’ll be glad you did because of the fast pace at which the story is told. It holds your attention. Even though one event in the story will likely upset you as much as it did me, I still recommend it for its entertainment value.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
dorai thodla
I would give this 3.5 stars if possible. Good writing, great setup of a group of lifelong friends, and you can sort of predict how they'll react when their children disappear on a family trip, but it's not a predictable plot.

If you are worried this book will be too sad/upsetting, it wasn't. It sort of felt like everything was presented at a distance (at least, from the parents' points of view).

Like many others, I preferred the parts of the story dealing with the children. They were well drawn and differentiated, I felt like they were real. The parents seemed kind of interchangeable. Despite the heartache they are suffering, I didn't really "feel" the heartache the way I felt the children's emotions.

This book seemed to bring up a lot of points that weren't examined or fully developed. Like, one of the couples is interracial, and the husband being black is mentioned once when the police talk to him, but it doesn't become a plot point. . . so why bring it up at all?

I think I was disappointed with this book because I've seen it praised EVERYWHERE and to me, it kind of felt like it was very calm and "from a distance" which doesn't really go with the plot.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
paulos
This book was difficult to get into. After hearing raving reviews on it, I thought that if I only kept reading, the style would pick up. It did not. It was written to the reading level of a 13-year-old child. I was half-way expecting to be tested on what I’d read at the end of each chapter. There were sexual innuendoes all along the way – until a married mother of kids, who were playing some yards away on the beach, actually had descriptive sex with some young guy she’d only just met. That’s when I’d had enough. I managed to get through about a sixth of the book, but could take no more. Up to that chapter, there was no evident point to the book. If there really was a mystery to be solved, the author never got around to delivering it – she was still introducing the book and the (mostly self-absorbed) characters on page 75. If you enjoy filthy language, reading about sexual experiences, and read at an 8th grade level, you might enjoy this book. Garbage pick-up at my house is tomorrow. By tomorrow evening, that book will be where it belongs.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
astrid
You might not want to read this if going on a cruise, but then again it’s a story to warn of the perils of when paradise goes bad…

This is not the cruise from paradise in any way shape or form. The people on it aren’t exactly ones you’d like next to you at dinner either. But when that ship docks and a group heads out on foot to the forests then you just know something bad is going to happen.

I did enjoy the immersive experience of the jungle, the heat, the pool in the middle of the trees, the excitement of not knowing where you are, the urge to explore..

What followed is not what I expected at all – there are more than a few farfetched moments once the children get lost in the forest and you really do have to suspend your level of belief somewhat. The dynamic between the children was also interesting and quite frankly I would have put them in charge of the errant parents. I’m not sure what they were expecting from a cruise but they seemed to have some strange ideas and had they ever been outside of their home town? Strangely naive but once in that jungle, the will to survive kicked in.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
rona
Spoiler Alert. What idiotic decisions these people make. I know there are people in the world like these characters but it would have been so much more interesting if they would have been smart and more relatable. They talk about how knowledgeable they are about the world but with each action they reveal how naive and hypocritical they are.
I chose to finish reading the book so that I could give it a chance and say that I read it all and still did not like it. I had such high hopes with some of the reviews and promises of thrilling high adventure and mystery. I had read the first two out of three Apothecary series books by this author and liked the first book but not the second one as much. Those books are in the young adult category but if it's a good story, I don't mind. I was disappointed with this one. Plenty of digs at how awful Americans are; "...he and his family had escaped, leaving chaos behind them. It was the American way."
People breaking the law to enter a country illegally are referred to as "travelers." A feminist viewpoint is apparent but the author makes sure the reader knows that some of the characters are self-proclaimed feminists. Here's some insight into one of the husbands' thoughts when he sees two police officers; one male and one tall female - "Benjamin thought, he must hate being the little guy with the towering female partner." Maybe I became more sensitive to all the characters' attitudes of moral superiority when they themselves are so lacking that I just started picking at it all.
Rather than focusing on the event(s) and a thrilling story, we get schooled in how bad we Americans are and ignorant of how the world is and what happens in it and how we have contributed to it all.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jennifer scott
If cozy beach-reads are not your thing, this book might fit the bill! Two seemingly perfect nuclear families go on a tropical cruise for Christmas together, but when a day trip on an island goes horribly awry, all of the children are missing and the vacation grinds to a halt.

I loved that the book was told through all of the characters' perspectives, from the youngest child—about 6 or so—who really doesn't have a full understanding of the complete and utter danger they are in, to all of the parents in their various states of shock and resolve, to the peripheral characters who may only have a short chapter to tell their piece. Meloy got into all of their heads, offering a unique and intense perspective of this story.

The book is so fast-paced too, it becomes so terrifyingly believable that something like this could truly happen. Easy even, for so many kids to just disappear out from under the noses of several watchful parents.

An excellent book; Meloy is one to watch.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
maren madsen
I feel like I just watched something stupid on TV or spent hours reading a comic book. This is so highly unlikely it is amazing. So many plot holes that credibility drops off to nothing about 30 pages into the story. So it might as well have been Dan Brown's work with a cliffhanger at the end of every chapter. Summertime beach read is right. Referring to it as literary is wrong on so many levels.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
brittany mounger
Don't say I didn't warn you. Just the thought of this book makes me feel sick.

It started out as pretty interesting. A light read for a vacation! Kids disappear on a vacation. But then starting chapter 22 the storyline very quickly began the downward spiral of SICKENING plot lines. After chapter 22 I started skimming to see how it ended and I wish I had simply abandoned it. Awful things happen to the kids. Don't find out what. Top it off with one-dimensional characters and here is a truly terrible book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
heath
Why such vitriolic reviews for this book?? I'd heard great things about this novel ahead of time and was so surprised by the negative reviews - why all the fuss? So, I read it myself....
This is a fast-paced, page-turner of a novel. Read the synopsis above - missing kids in a foreign country? This is a compelling read. No, this is not written at the age level of a child. The writing is spare and concise, without a lot of unnecessary words and descriptions. It's well written and pulls the reader along. Yes, a lot of the adults are annoying. Yes, the kids are the heroes in this tale. Yes, somehow the Americans get off scot-free. I think that's kind of the point that the author is highlighting here - how 'wealthy' Americans move through the world and expect to be treated by it - a double standard that the world sees and even expects. I read a lot of books and this one is worth reading if you find the synopsis of interest. I'd likely give this book a four start rating - for me 4 is very good, 5 is perfect - but would love to help out the rating of this definitely worth reading book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
christos
Based on the mixed reviews, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Do Not Become Alarmed. I found the book in the library so I thought I’d read the first chapter and then decide whether to invest my time. I’m so glad I gave it a chance. I couldn’t put the book down and read it cover to cover in less than 24 hours. The plot moved along at a nice pace and was full of suspense. The characters were well developed and I really cared about what happened to them which is not always the case in the books I’ve been reading of late. I wish I could give it 4 1/2 stars but that’s not an option. So why didn’t I give it 5 stars? There was a storyline with one of the adult characters that I felt didn’t contribute to the plot and simply felt like a distraction. I also didn’t care for one of the scenes involving a child that felt too graphic. I’m not providing specifics because I don’t want to spoil the book for other readers. However, all in all, I highly recommend this book. It’s the only book I’ve read straight through in years.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
arl ne
After I started reading this book and found out one of the characters had an insulin pump, I was excited to read more to see what that added to the plot. I have type 1 diabetes and have been wearing an insulin pump for almost 20 years and maybe I’m holding the author to a higher standard than most but the boy who did not have his insulin pump would have died even with the injections of insulin because he was not receiving basal insulin. It’s unrealistic to think a diabetic only needs fast acting insulin when they eat. People need a constant base rate of insulin throughout the day. His blood sugar would have gone up through out the day even without eating. It annoyed me that the author’s answer to the plot twist of having a diabetic character was to have someone give him fast acting insulin. That’s not how diabetes works. The boy should have been given a shot of long acting insulin at bedtime and shots throughout the day when he ate. I guess I’m being too picky.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
maria mouk
This was a horrible book! An Oprah Winfrey recommended best read??? Are you kidding me? I do have the title of a best book if anyone would like to know, and read my best recommended book! But it's not this one!!!! I kept going (don't know why), waiting for it to get better, waiting to find out what happens to the children, the child rape part was hard to read, so skimmed over assuming I knew what would happen, it didn't really have an end, just stopped, left so much open but I hope not for a sequel. I won't be reading it! The language was very gratuitous, if you like the F-word! And I don't. I had a fabulous book with me (the one I recommend) and I wasted my beach time on this one! Awful!!!!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
amir h sadoughi
This book was okay - overall, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. The idea of the book was interesting but I didn't think it was well executed. It was kind of a suspense book but really not that much was happening... and I didn't really get to know the characters enough so that I really cared for them. There were bad words throughout and a few sex scenes that (in my opinion) were overly descriptive... neither the bad words nor the sex scenes helped the story out so they just seemed completely unnecessary. This book had potential but just wasn't very good.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
vladimir
I wanted to try something different from my usual reads. I was scouting a mystery for our Bookclub. This one caught my attention but good gawd! It was promising but so dumb! Remember that movie White Chicks? Maile Malloy, the author, narrates the audio version and sounds just as dumb as the two white girls in White Chicks! No joke or exaggeration. It was excruciating listening to he Valley girl narration! Nora was an annoying character. I wouldn’t recommend this book to my worst enemy. Or maybe I would and would hope for a speedy “death” from the authors annoying voice!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
nancy lane
I think three stars is appropriate for this book. I've never read anything by Maile Meloy before, but I was intrigued by this title after hearing it reviewed on Fresh Air.

I enjoyed it. It's definitely a book that keeps you reading. But it unfortunately just left me feeling...kind of unsatisfied. There are sooo many characters, and each one is interesting in their own way. But in having ten or so narrators, each of their stories winds up feeling underdeveloped.

I found the American parents very grating, and their kids truly got on my nerves. Maybe that's the point of the novel. But I really would have appreciated hearing from the South American narrators more. Isabelle was my favorite character, and her story winds up feeling incomplete; I was disappointed with her final chapter.

Ultimately, this is a good read, and it certainly made me think. I just wish I had gotten a little more from it.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
hannah
I bought this mainly based on blurb from author Ann Patchett and I like books set on cruise ships. You know kids are going to go missing so the first few chapters are dull from the get go. Then the kids get gone and S L O W L E Y the plot goes south....or north, or wherever Marcus the genius kid thinks they are (you are told he's a genius multiple times) then the kids are off on a wild goose chase and the parents are sick with guilt (at least one is ;-) and blame is all around. Extremely disappointed in the ending. Author didn't have that figured out.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ophira
Wow this book was creepy. Not creepy in a horror type of way, but creepy as in … I have no idea what’s going to happen at any moment type of way. I saw this described as a “relentless thriller” and I think that’s the perfect way to describe this, after the first few chapters. I wish the beginning had been a little bit condensed so we could get into the action right away, because that is really when the story held my interest and kept me captivated. The different POVs was incredibly intriguing and hats off to Meloy for solid writing with so many different characters having a voice. If you enjoy thrillers, I think you’ll need to pick this one up.
I received a review copy
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
linda nissen
I started reading this book last night around 8pm and did not stop till I finished it at 3am. Full disclosure, I am not a fan of ocean cruise vacations and if you are like me, this book will make you even more reluctant to embark on this type of trip. Three families on vacation with six kids decide to participate in a shore excursion that goes horribly wrong. Everyone freaks out (and rightfully so), as the worst things possible happen. The suspense is palpable and maintains a stress level throughout. Who makes it out, which marriage survives, who is honest, who is crooked, who is racist, and who is innocent. OMG. What a wild ride. I will never go on a cruise. LOL. 4 stars.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
larisa dumitrica
Well I finished the book quickly because I was on vacation and had a little time. But it is really just poorly written. The "series of minor miscalculations" (that led to this disaster) was so far-fetched and ridiculous. I mean really really far-fetched. Would have been better if it was more plausible but since both parents did such horrifically stupid things that allowed their kids to disappear, it was hard to have sympathy for them. It was also very stereotypical.
Also, the name of the book is bad.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jimstoic
This book was different from the usual thriller. The story starts on a cruise ship to the Panama. The adventure starts in Central America when some of the adults and children go on a shore excursion and the children become separated from the adults. There were a few tedious moments in the middle of the book but over all it was a great adventure and a worth-while read. Anyone who loves cruising and does this type of shore excursion (a private guide hired by the cruise line is not always properly vetted) should read this book.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
paige jordan
This book appears to be written by a 8th grade student who thought they had a "neat" plot. However, the reviews are good for a laugh: "smart, thrilling and impossible to put down. The book every reader longs for. This summer's smash hit". If you believe this, I've got a bridge to sell you.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
laura leone
Blow by blow account of how six kidnapped children get back to their parents. At least i assume they do, I could not make it to the end. Uninterestingly written, in the style of this happened, then that.

The only mystery remaining for me: how did Ann Pattchett like this novel?
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
deniz
Don’t read Maile Meloy’s novel titled, Do Not Become Alarmed, while on vacation with children. A normal anxiety level about what could happen to children can become extreme while reading about the perils faced by the children in this novel who have been enjoying a cruise to Central America with their parents. A land excursion during a port stop turns perilous and the unraveling of the children and their parents absorbs every remaining page of the novel. Meloy’s prose is finely written, and her insight into human behavior will please many readers.

Rating: Four-star (I like it)
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
alexia
Years ago I heard Meloy speak as part of a panel of writers and editors. She was articulate and quite intelligent. I thought this novel intelligently written, more sophisticated than most. And I think Meloy handled a complex story and a lot of characters relatively well. I was a bit disappointed, though, by the number of characters presented. If there had been fewer, I think it would have been easier to care about them--if they had been fleshed out more. Initially, nearly everyone in the story seemed shallow and self-absorbed. As I read on, I was more and more interested, and Meloy did create a fair amount of tension and plot twists to keep me reading. But about 3/4 of the way through the book I felt there were too many twists or coincidental confrontations, some of them not quite credible. I began to see the writer at work (always a red flag for me) complicating the lives of these people to the point that plotting overshadowed my engagement with the parents and children who were put through so much trauma.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
timarie
The plot is a bit far fetched, but the writing is well executed. The focus of the book is basically how parents breakdown and change when their young children are missing and possibly dead. Some of the reactions felt realistic, but others were questionable. Then, the book sort of limps to a non-ending. I gave this book 3 stars, because I finished it, but I would not recommend it to a friend.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
celticfish
This was okay in that it was a fast read that kept my attention, and I wanted to find out what happened in the end.

This book describes every parent’s nightmare. But it does it in such an implausible way. American parents in general already have such a skewed sense of what is actually dangerous, and this definitely feeds into those irrational fears.

The characters all lacked development and were basically all completely awful. I just kept finding myself thinking how unrealistic it all was.

Too many narrators, too many storylines. Some storylines were not even necessary. And then every storyline was not resolved in the end.

I found myself constantly cringing. Plenty of unnecessary language. Graphic “trigger warning” type scenes that weren’t handled especially well. So many stereotypes.

So basically, I wouldn’t recommend this. Left me feeling gross and confused.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
mitch pendleton
This is the first book I've read by this author. Other reviewers have said this is not one of her best. The premise was great, I eagerly read all the way through, but the ending was very unfinished. I was left wanting to know what happened next for two children, and for two adult peripheral characters. Because many have said the author has written more satisfying books I might read another by her in future. Also, if there was a sequel to this one, I would definitely be interested in reading it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
joe pierce
The book was well written and suspenseful, and the characters were well defined. One can imagine that it could happen That thing that I had difficulty with was keeping straight the amount of characters. There were
11 main, 8 tangential, at least 10 others, all popping willy-nilly in and out of the story. It was too much! I finally stopped searching through the book and made a flow chart.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
chandra helton
I can only comment on the narration by the author, but I couldn't get into the book. Her narration wasn't bad, but it wasn't an Audible quality narration and not worth the price. I think she would have been better served to hire a professional narrator. That said, the book may have been fine, but I didn't like any of the characters and they seemed flat and boring.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
clarice
I was looking forward to reading this book and must admit I was slightly disappointed. To me, the story was slightly manic, implausible and erratic. I thought there were too many story tellers and I did not like any of the adult characters which didn't help me whilst reading. As the blurb says, it's the story of 6 children who go missing on a day out from their Christmas cruise. What has happened to them and will they be returned safely?
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
orges
This book is annoying. Every single character, including the children, are utterly horrible. Reading this book, for me, is like driving by a train wreck. You really don't want to look (in this case read) but yet you can't look away. One thing that bothered me time and time again is the mention of hunger. So your children get kidnapped in a foreign country and all anyone talked about (when they weren't making excuses for what terrible human beings they are and, TRUST ME, they are terrible) was how hungry they are including the kids themselves. Seriously? Food would be the furthest thing from my mind in this situation. I skimmed the last 100 pages because I had to see how these despicable people would fair. Is it wrong that I hoped they'd all die? Sadly, that didn't happen.

The writing itself was not all that impressive either. Two stars because she made me hate them enough to find out the conclusion.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
romy
My pet peeve is when author’s try to sneak in political lectures into books that have nothing to do with such issues. For example this book has lines about “carbon footprint” “climate change” and “fossil fuels” just thrown into a story about three family’s missing children. Such grandstanding causes a disjointed pause into an already loose narrative. If a writer wants to pen a book about global warming then just have the guts to do it, not try to slip in liberal politics in where it makes no sense. Otherwise thus book is an okay thriller that did keep me engaged until the end.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
diana quinones
This was a good book that deals with 3 families and the traumatic events that happen to them while on a vacation.

I've worked with trauma survivors and the author did a good job of representing different reactions and effects that can ere were enough characters represented though, that I never especially bonded with any of them beyond a secondary character type of way.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
khryseda
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

Following a book heavy on the gorgeous writing, I was looking for a purely plot-based book and I found it in Do Not Become Alarmed. Though the plot requires the reader to suspend belief a few times, I flew through this novel.

The bulk of the action takes place in an unnamed Central American country that’s supposed to be “the Switzerland of Central America” and very safe for tourists…based on clues in the novel, it sounds like a fictional Costa Rica. The story is told from the perspectives of the different sets of parents (who have their own dynamics and are experiencing cracks in their relationships with each other as a result of the children’s disappearances) and the missing children. It’s a “stuff hits the fan on an International vacation” story in the vein of Siracusa (my review) and would be a perfect vacation read…as long as you’re not traveling with young children through Central America! And, it’s going on my 2017 Summer Reading Guide.

Check out my blog, Sarah's Book Shelves, for more reviews.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
siddhesh ayre
Late last night, as per usual, I knew sleep would not be coming to my door. So I picked up this book. Wow! Impossible to put down. Riveting. Characters that feel like, hey, I know these people. We could be friends. A seemingly innocent adventure. Then all of a sudden all hell breaks loose.
This movie reminded me a touch of that movie about the surfer who gets trapped by the shark. The Reef or oh wait, "The Shallows"?, yes I think that's it.
All the things that happen are so far fetched and yet they are totally believable. There are parts where I felt like yelling out at the parents, like, "Why!? Your son is a severe diabetic with a port. Why would you leave the ship with this precious delicate child? WHY?!" There are nail biting moments. Terrible things happen. And these kids! What they endure and how tough they are!!! Way tougher than the parents.
Anyway. I read 95% of this book all last night. I've got like 10 pages left. The book is amazing, sad, tragic, bizarre and just out there. I think most parents should read it. For a warning. For perspective. As a reminder.. these little people are dear and precious. Don't take them on a cruise and then allow things like this to even have a possibility of happening. I have never been on a cruise. I am not that person. Maybe I've seen Titanic way too many times. This book though, is very good. Very well written! Ms. Maile Meloy has got quite a bright future ahead of her. I can tell. This is just the beginning. You Go Girl!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
sarah funke donovan
In trying to do too much, it does far too little. A fable of sorts chock full of pretty repellent stereotypes about the ugly American, the passionate Argentine, and the awful lives of unlucky brown people - so desperate and distraught and victimized that their country, in which the action happens, doesn't even get to have a name. Also, watch out for alligators.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
wiebke
If you disliked Gone Girl and Girl on the Train as I did, then dont waste your time with trite chic lit excuse for a thriller. The characters are incredibly shallow, and are shallowly written. This story had a lot of potential but the author missed the "boat" Pun intended.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
loree draude
The moral issues raised were interesting but the story could have been a lot better. First, too many names to remember. Couldn't keep track of which kids belonged to which families. Hector's plight should have been given more page-time. A bit over the top. Easy to read but not very satisfying.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jessie winitzky
Fascinating how people handle trama, intense life challenges, turn on each other, make great mistakes. I usually don't like this belly-button staring... but it wasn't. I was woven into an intense drama of trying to find the lost kids. Really worth the reading time. I'm very glad I read it. 4.5 stars.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
mary thigpen
I love books with an "I didn't see that ending coming!" ending. This story definitely did not give me that. It held my interest till about 2/3 through but then just sort of drifted toward the end. Not one I'd rush to tell my friends about.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
burgess
I thought Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy was okay. Most of the characters were not believable. The plot line was interesting. The book ended rather abruptly and there wasn't a good sense of closure.

I would not recommend Do Not Become Alarmed.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
khadija
Interesting- at times I thought lame, then intriguing and certainly unbelievable but all in all a decent, captivating tale about everything going wrong, then a little right....only to go wrong again, then mostly happy ending for 2 out of 3 families.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
kuya indra
Got this as audio version from library, because I had like her earlier "Liars and Saints" - Glad I did not purchase it. I will not finish listening to it. Have to agree with other reviewers that this seems aimed at youngish adolescents.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
leonardo olmos
This pressure cooker thriller loses steam every once in a while, but you still care enough about somebody in it to finish it.
Maybe it would have been more interesting if the unreliable narrator were more distinguished from the author.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
scott c
I LOVED this book! I don't think I've ever read a book as quickly as I read this. The story has a nice pace that keeps the reader wondering what will happen next. I felt that the characters were relatable and interesting. The author does a masterful job of delving into the character's emotions and mindsets as they go through various stressful situations. I felt that the ending was appropriate and satisfying. This was the first book of Maile Meloy's that I've read and I plan to read her other books.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
lee bernasconi
Most authors would not go where this one went. The rape of a minor. This could have been left out of the book. After reading that part, I put the book away. I had read other reviews of this book and it had seemed interesting. Just never read that part. This is just my opinion. I know this is fiction but I was very dissapointed in the unnecessary content.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
lance morcan
If you want to waste your eyesight, your time, and read on a 6th grade level, then this book is for you. The storyline could have been interesting if a more talented author had written it. It's amazing what can get published these days. I guess people don't expect much anymore. Save your money!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
calvin ho
I was excited to read this book. It had received good reviews. It was meh. It was unrealistic and the adult characters weren't likeable. On the other hand, it was an easy listen on a car trip. Could have been so much better. The concept is fun. But it is just meh.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
jordan haddadi
This book flows from a completely ridiculous premise -- that these VERY well-off people would choose a cruise ship with on-short cruises that aren't vetted and prepared. Everything results from this -- it's stupid and non-realistic and ridiculous. Don't waste your time.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nancy s
I read this book in one long day, and there was no possibility of putting it down til I was done. It is a beautifully crafted thriller that builds tension in a way that had me greatly admiring Ms Meloy's plotting skills. If you want something to keep you on your toes, I don't think you can do better than this story. I am now officially a Maile Meloy fan.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nicholas willig
I got a little lost in all the characters, mainly because I was looking for an easy summer read. It was once I let go of a few minor details /names and just let the story happen. I enjoyed it, not an award winner but it was good.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
chelsea murray
Do not read this while you're in a family vacation! But definitely a quick, compelling read. Nice break from the current "woman as unreliable narrator and possibly in peril or possibly the perpetrator" trend.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nick marsden
Do Not Become Alarmed

I found this book gripping and once I started it, I didn't want to put it down!

The storyline resonated with me as my children going missing is my worst nightmare. I really liked the way it was told from the children's perspective, as well as the parent's. It's a heart wrenching, harrowing and totally addictive. A must read for 2017! 5 shiny stars from purplebookstand!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
yaprak
I gave it 2 stars because I did finish the book. This book was a big downer for me. From a graphic rape on a child to kidnapping, it all was very heavy. If I had it to do over I would of skipped this one.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
deena
This was an awesome book. I couldn't put it down the author is so talented with her ability to keep you on the edge of your seat and turning the pages even in the middle of the night. As a mom, it reminds me of how fortunate I really am!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
jan farndale
Listened to audiobook I got from the library. Interesting premise is why i was drawn to it, but the several anti American and social justice sermons turned me off to this book. Too bad, because I listen to lots of audiobooks and feel that the above complaints mean I won’t be listening to any more from this author.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jon yeo
This book is relentless. If I were you, I would read it without looking at any summaries or reviews (not even this one.) You should read this one straight-up and just lose yourself in it. Meloy makes these characters live on the page, and then she really roughs them up, but sometimes that is what it takes. She writes this in an unflinching way, and you will find yourself on edge throughout this book. I
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
hawkeye
Somewhat fantastical story about children getting swept away and then facing adventure after adventure while conveniently rescued just at the right moment, along with some startling anti-American slurs sprinkled through the story. Don't waste your time reading this.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kate mccartney
I'm not sure why there's such backlash against this book. I'm two thirds through and loving it. Typical smart, subtle writing from Meloy. I especially love her description of the medical instructions: "Do Not Become Alarmed. Push Alarm Button Below." Standard surprising Meloy-ish exploration of ambivalence and paradox, as you would find in "Half in Love," "Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It." The pages fly!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jess griffis
I thought the book was a good vacation read...nothing terribly complicated which is nice on a beach or next to a pool. If you want great literature, look elsewhere. The writing is not great and the dialogue is trite, but it moves fast and it a quick read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
steffani rideau
Was looking for a book to suck me in and this did it in a dark and twisty way. Read it in one sitting. It is quite a journey with multiple angles that makes the convergence that much more complicated.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ivette
I saw this book recommended somewhere and decided to read it based on the blurb. I was hooked right away and read it in almost one sitting -- something that rarely happens. I love when I find a book that grabs me like that!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lin christiansen
This was my first time reading Meloy. I was in desperate need of a novel that I wouldn't want to put down, and this was it for me. I read it in less than 48 hours. I have to admit that "rich people in peril" is probably my favorite genre (something I realized only while reading this book) but she really goes there. Definitely the most suspenseful novel I've read in a while.
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