Michelle Gagnon
N. D.'s discussion on symbols and point of view in Don’t Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon
The following criticism deals with the importance of symbols such as the computer and the internet and their relevancy to the point of view changes in the novel.

The novel Don’t Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon is about two teenaged hackers, Noa and Peter, who are running from AMRF, an unknown company out to grasp and kill them for snooping around in very secret files. As with any and all hackers, the computer and the internet are the most important aspects to a hacker’s life. Gagnon maintains the importance of both of these items throughout the story to coincide with the point of view shifts.

Noa and Peter are both part of /ALLIANCE/, an online hacker site home to thousands of people and founded by Peter himself. Through the site, all of the members can contribute to the society with “hacktivism” or the destruction of people that harm others. Since /ALLIANCE/ is an online site, computers and internet need to be obtained in some way. Through the use of the computer and the internet, Noa and Peter are able to research something called Project Persephone, the exact thing that AMRF is trying to hide. Noa and Peter may have different data sets on their laptops, but their use for the devices are the same; hack into the server for AMRF and extract whatever pertinent information is there before getting out quickly.

The point of view of the novel changes between Noa and Peter. In Noa’s point of view, her computer represents her lifeline. Through it she has been able to create a fake family, a fake job and a fake bank account. However, as AMRF guards try to capture her, she is not able to use the very same safety net. AMRF tracks Noa’s every monetary digital footprint so she is forced to rely on outside help: an anonymous e-mailer who goes by the name A6M0. The value of her computer and the internet changes drastically because she is no longer just using her hacking skills to get some food and shelter. Her computer allows her to gain access to files by AMRF and hack into their database. “…her screen suddenly flooded with information…stacks of folders populated her screen [and] thousands related to Project Persephone”. The successful hack dug up a file that had her name on it and would put her important codes and hacking abilities to the test.

On the other hand, with Peter’s perspective, his computer and the internet are used more for /ALLIANCE/ than anything else. When Peter’s laptop is taken, however, it’s not a huge deal since everything is protected. But once Peter finds out /ALLIANCE/ has been taken down and his backup server destroyed, he means business. The computer, therefore, is no longer just a place to keep his invention a secret. It is now a place to store the hundreds of gigs downloaded from AMRF. Peter is the one who involved Noa in the research of Project Persephone and he uses his hacking skills to destroy the AMRF database. “Virtual Private Networks… give employees secured access to company networks…but they also allowed individuals to surf the Web anonymously”. This means that AMRF is not able to track Peter as he’s sifting through their protected files.

To be able to hack into various severs and databases throughout the novel, both Noa and Peter had to have access to the internet and a computer. Those two materials vastly helped the duo with their ability to dismantle AMRF and gain knowledge. The computer stored all of the data they needed and gave them an edge over AMRF. Overall, without the computers and the internet, Noa would have been recaptured by AMRF and Peter would not have been able to learn the secrets of Project Persephone.

N.D. 2014