A group of high school sophomores goes in for a flu shot and comes out with so much more in Sarah Mlynowski’s newest YA novel, Don’t Even Think About It.
A batch of tainted vaccine bestows telepathic abilities on a homeroom class of 22 students and suddenly, no one’s secrets are safe. Not Mackensie, who cheated on her trusting boyfriend, Cooper. Not Olivia, whose insecurities were safely tucked away until now. Not Tess, in love with her unsuspecting best friend, Teddy, and not Pi, the academic overachiever ready to cheat her way to the top. These “espies” (the self-titled ESP students) not only have the ability to communicate telepathically with each other, they can read the minds of their unaffected classmates, their teachers, parents, and just about anyone within close range. Unfortunately, that means their minds can get pretty noisy and there’s nothing to filter out the amusing, embarrassing, and sometimes, heartbreaking thoughts that the espies are now privy to. While some, like Pi, take to their new abilities like ducks to water, others, like Mackensie and Olivia, experience the immediate pitfalls and wonder if, maybe, ignorance is indeed bliss.
It’s an interesting storyline to watch this group gain an incredible ability and then quickly realize that something valuable has been lost at the same time. Early on, these students band together as they begin to explore their powers and wrestle with whether to keep silent. In a unique twist, the book is narrated by the espies in a collective “we” voice that interjects comments through the story like a classic Greek chorus. Luckily, readers don’t have to juggle 22 different characters at once because the author has wisely chosen to follow the lives of the handful of students mentioned above. Never fear, though, there are plenty of hints dropped along the way that will undoubtedly fill future installments with new character arcs, new psychic abilities, and new dangers, not only within their own social circles, but from the Center For Disease Control which has identified these unusual teenagers.
Sarah Mlynowski’s breezy writing style keeps the book from getting too bogged down in drama but still gives thoughtful readers much to contemplate here. There’s light romance and some comic moments as well. The only downside is the cover, which, alas, may be too pink to attract the teenage male reader. A quick, enjoyable read, Don’t Even Think About It would make a great book for spring break, and for readers who like contemporary settings and realistic characters.