Review – Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐



When Liv and Nora decide to take their husbands and children on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled.  The ship’s comforts and possibilities seem infinite.  But when they all go ashore in beautiful Central America, a series of minor mishaps lead the families further from the ship’s safety.  One minute the children are there, and the next they’re gone.  What follows is a heart-racing story told from the perspectives of the adults and the children, as the distraught parents – now turning on one another and blaming themselves – try to recover their children and their shattered lives.


My first thought was that I could not wait to get stuck into this book.  The fact that a bunch of children could just disappear both scared and amazed me.  It felt like it could be a modern day Lord of the Flies; a bunch of kids doing anything to stay alive.

The lead parents are Liv and Nora.  Liv is pragmatic and a problem solver.  She is a mother to Penny and Sebastian, and a wife to Benjamin.  She loves her life as a mum but she gets a bit run down from it all so she is relieved when she sees the food buffet on board as it means that she doesn’t need to worry about planning breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for her children.

As for Nora she is pretty much an emotional wreck following her mother’s death which leads her to do some crazy things for attention.  She is married to Raymond who is extremely attractive and her children are Marcus and June.

We are also introduced to a little girl called Noemi who has witnessed things that no child should ever see.  She is a pleasant little thing, full of questions and lives with her grandmother.  Unfortunately her grandmother can no longer afford to look after Noemi so she is being sent back to live with her parents via a strange man.  I was so interested by this little girl and whether her story is interlinked with the missing children or perhaps ran as a subplot.

There is a minor incident at the beginning of the novel where the two youngest kids – Sebastian and June – go missing.  You get a feeling whether could this be where it all begins, but it isn’t.  Meloy lures you into a false sense of security until all of a sudden, it all goes off.  To start there is a car crash which leads to a day isolated on the nearest beach where Nora sneaks off to have a secret rendezvous with the tour guide, and Liv falls asleep following a rum cocktail.  The kids are happily playing in the water with no-one watching them until suddenly they have just disappeared… who, what, where, when and why, sprang to mind!

My heart was in my mouth permanently for the parents.  Especially for Liv as her younger son, Sebastian, is not a well boy and requires an insulin pump – something which is currently in his mother’s bag and not attached to his missing body.  Without going into too much detail, it turns out that the children were carried away by the current of the water.  They managed to get out of the river safely but what evolves is a scary tale of children in search of their parents and parents in search of their children.  Some scenes make for very unpleasant reading but these parts are what makes the story and it would be boring without it.

Once you get into this dramatic novel, then it definitely isn’t one to start late at night as it is so gripping and Meloy writes in such a way that has you thinking of all kinds of scenarios.  She plants seeds in your head for them then to take a completely different turn.  You are kept on your toes throughout and you will be begging for those children to find a way back…

Do Not Become Alarmed is out to buy this Thursday 6 July and is definitely a novel to be added to your bedside table but be warned, you won’t want to go to sleep until you have finished it.

Thank you to Josie Murdoch of Penguin Viking for kindly sending me a copy in return for my honest opinion.

My final word: Survival.

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