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Present Day: Eva has never felt like she belonged... not in her own family or with her friends in New York City, and certainly not at a fancy boarding school like Hardwick Preparatory Academy. So when she is invited to join the Fives, an elite secret society, she jumps at the opportunity to finally be a part of something. But what if the Fives are about more than just having Present Day: Eva has never felt like she belonged... not in her own family or with her friends in New York City, and certainly not at a fancy boarding school like Hardwick Preparatory Academy. So when she is invited to join the Fives, an elite secret society, she jumps at the opportunity to finally be a part of something. But what if the Fives are about more than just having the best parties and receiving special privileges from the school? What if they are also responsible for keeping some of Hardwick’s biggest secrets buried? 1962: There is only one reason why Connie would volunteer to be one of the six students to participate in testing Hardwick’s nuclear fallout shelter: Craig Allenby. While the thought of nuclear war sends her into a panic, she can’t pass up the opportunity to spend four days locked in with the school’s golden boy. However, Connie and the other students quickly discover that there is more to this “test” than they previously thought. As they are forced to follow an escalating series of commands, Connie realizes that one wrong move could have dangerous consequences. Separated by sixty years , Eva's and Connie’s stories become inextricably intertwined as Eva unravels the mystery of how six students went into the fallout shelter all those years ago . . . but only five came out.


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Present Day: Eva has never felt like she belonged... not in her own family or with her friends in New York City, and certainly not at a fancy boarding school like Hardwick Preparatory Academy. So when she is invited to join the Fives, an elite secret society, she jumps at the opportunity to finally be a part of something. But what if the Fives are about more than just having Present Day: Eva has never felt like she belonged... not in her own family or with her friends in New York City, and certainly not at a fancy boarding school like Hardwick Preparatory Academy. So when she is invited to join the Fives, an elite secret society, she jumps at the opportunity to finally be a part of something. But what if the Fives are about more than just having the best parties and receiving special privileges from the school? What if they are also responsible for keeping some of Hardwick’s biggest secrets buried? 1962: There is only one reason why Connie would volunteer to be one of the six students to participate in testing Hardwick’s nuclear fallout shelter: Craig Allenby. While the thought of nuclear war sends her into a panic, she can’t pass up the opportunity to spend four days locked in with the school’s golden boy. However, Connie and the other students quickly discover that there is more to this “test” than they previously thought. As they are forced to follow an escalating series of commands, Connie realizes that one wrong move could have dangerous consequences. Separated by sixty years , Eva's and Connie’s stories become inextricably intertwined as Eva unravels the mystery of how six students went into the fallout shelter all those years ago . . . but only five came out.

30 review for Don't Breathe a Word

  1. 4 out of 5

    Claude's Bookzone

    3.5 Stars Well that really was an engaging little YA mystery! I enjoyed both POVs, however Connie's story line was more intriguing and actually got quite chilling. I love secret society stories in elite schools and whilst I would like to have seen it get a bit darker, it was still an interesting, slightly predictable, YA mystery. 3.5 Stars Well that really was an engaging little YA mystery! I enjoyed both POVs, however Connie's story line was more intriguing and actually got quite chilling. I love secret society stories in elite schools and whilst I would like to have seen it get a bit darker, it was still an interesting, slightly predictable, YA mystery.

  2. 5 out of 5

    h o l l i s

    This was an interesting dual-timeline story, that later connects, of an event in the past that is the catalyst for the creation of a secret society at a boarding school. It mashes up Cold War paranoia with present day priviledge and the new girl at said school who is brought into the society and uncovers the crime at the heart of the organization. I found this an easy read and enjoyed it when I didn't think too hard about the unlikeliness of the whole thing enduring through the decades. Also the This was an interesting dual-timeline story, that later connects, of an event in the past that is the catalyst for the creation of a secret society at a boarding school. It mashes up Cold War paranoia with present day priviledge and the new girl at said school who is brought into the society and uncovers the crime at the heart of the organization. I found this an easy read and enjoyed it when I didn't think too hard about the unlikeliness of the whole thing enduring through the decades. Also the fact that no one had uncovered anything in the decades since? Like with most stories, suspend some disbelief and you'll have a good time. At it's heart, however, is a good message for teens -- and those of us non-teens who sometimes forget -- that people worth your time, be them friends or family or peers, won't demand sacrifice or secrets or for you to bury your discomfort just to be in their presence. Friendship, love, respect.. these are not conditional. While this wasn't perhaps all that surprising or original, except for the circumstances taking place during the historical timeline, if you like secret societies, boarding school settings, and mysteries for YA protagonists to unravel, you should give this one a go. ** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. ** --- This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Chloe

    4.5 STARS I really, really enjoyed this book! I ate it all up in one evening and had a great timing doing so. I really enjoyed the two POVs in this story, and loved the way the author linked them together. The setting was very intriguing, and the secret society element wasn't overdone which made it much more enjoyable. Surprisingly for me, I also enjoyed the fact it wasn't romance-heavy. To be very picky, it was a little bit predictable, and could've been a teeny bit longer and more detailed? 4.5 STARS I really, really enjoyed this book! I ate it all up in one evening and had a great timing doing so. I really enjoyed the two POVs in this story, and loved the way the author linked them together. The setting was very intriguing, and the secret society element wasn't overdone which made it much more enjoyable. Surprisingly for me, I also enjoyed the fact it wasn't romance-heavy. To be very picky, it was a little bit predictable, and could've been a teeny bit longer and more detailed?

  4. 5 out of 5

    PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps

    A YA contemporary set in a boarding? Automatic preorder. Though I’m closer in age to narrator Connie, the part of the story set in 1962 than Eva, the narrator for the story set in 2021, I thoroughly enjoyed DON’T BREATHE A WORD from start to finish. In many ways, Eva and Connie are similar, both followers, eager to fit in and go along with the crowd even when the voice inside them tells them it’s wrong. Neither is a profile in courage, in the beginning. Jordyn Taylor brilliantly wrote 1962 accurat A YA contemporary set in a boarding? Automatic preorder. Though I’m closer in age to narrator Connie, the part of the story set in 1962 than Eva, the narrator for the story set in 2021, I thoroughly enjoyed DON’T BREATHE A WORD from start to finish. In many ways, Eva and Connie are similar, both followers, eager to fit in and go along with the crowd even when the voice inside them tells them it’s wrong. Neither is a profile in courage, in the beginning. Jordyn Taylor brilliantly wrote 1962 accurately, from first names, to teenage slang. Born in 1964, I’m a few years too young to remember hiding under desks for nuclear war drills but that and McCarthyism was recent history. I constantly wanted Connie to make better choices. Eva’s in her first year of boarding school, sent away because her mother and stepfather never really wanted her and they didn’t tolerate her typical teenage behavior. I understood why Eva wanted to be part of the secret society, even when she knew it was a bad fit. DON’T BREATHE A WORD is fast paced, alternating between Connie’s and Eva’s points of view. I enjoyed every minute of the story, though not a typical mystery of thriller, I was very much invested in how the story played out. DON’T BREATHE A WORD is a must read for anyone who loves boarding schools and secret societies.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    This was a good ride! I especially appreciated the character growth in the modern section. (view spoiler)[It was cool to see a character understandably get drawn into this group of people and then go "hey wait a minute." (hide spoiler)] This was a good ride! I especially appreciated the character growth in the modern section. (view spoiler)[It was cool to see a character understandably get drawn into this group of people and then go "hey wait a minute." (hide spoiler)]

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jaksen

    Need to add, I won this book from Goodreads Giveaway. Thank you, Goodreads! Couldn't get more than one-fourth of the way in, and I tried twice. Story of a girl anxious to join an elite club at a boarding school. I found the situation rather trite, sorry to say, but my real criticism was of the time period. The girls in the two eras shown in the book - 1962 and the current era - didn't read 'real' to me. How do I know? Seriously, it just felt off and some of the attitudes/expressions voiced by the Need to add, I won this book from Goodreads Giveaway. Thank you, Goodreads! Couldn't get more than one-fourth of the way in, and I tried twice. Story of a girl anxious to join an elite club at a boarding school. I found the situation rather trite, sorry to say, but my real criticism was of the time period. The girls in the two eras shown in the book - 1962 and the current era - didn't read 'real' to me. How do I know? Seriously, it just felt off and some of the attitudes/expressions voiced by the 1962 girls were artificial. IMO. (Other opinions may vary, of course!) I was only a child in 1962 but I had a teenage sister who was one of the most popular girls in her class. Seriously, she still is. Tons of friends, always partying, tying up the phone for hours. Boys, girls, older friends, younger, she was IT. (She bought one of the first Ford Mustangs for sale!) And so I know how teenagers spoke, moved, acted and reacted and what was important in their world, esp. in the early to mid-1960's. As for the current era, yeah, I'm out of a tune a bit, but I taught young teenagers for 36 years and so... I tried. The writing itself was very good: transitions, narration, setting, etc. But no rating. DNF

  7. 5 out of 5

    Hayden (bookish.hayden)

    Set in two different time periods, Don't Breathe a Word tells two heart racing tales that collide in an incredible way. In the present day we have Eva, a new student at Hardwick Preparatory Academy who desperately wants to make friends. When she's invited to join an elite secret society, she jumps at the opportunity to be a part of something. But the Fives aren't what she expected, and secrets start bubbling up. In 1962 we have Connie, who is terrified by the threat of nuclear war. When presente Set in two different time periods, Don't Breathe a Word tells two heart racing tales that collide in an incredible way. In the present day we have Eva, a new student at Hardwick Preparatory Academy who desperately wants to make friends. When she's invited to join an elite secret society, she jumps at the opportunity to be a part of something. But the Fives aren't what she expected, and secrets start bubbling up. In 1962 we have Connie, who is terrified by the threat of nuclear war. When presented with the opportunity of spending four days in the schools new fallout shelter, she's skeptical until she hears her crush will be going. But the bunker is not at all what she expected, and Connie quickly realizes that one wrong move could have dangerous consequences. Eva's and Connie’s stories become inextricably intertwined as Eva unravels the mystery of how six students went into the fallout shelter all those years ago . . . but only five came out. CW: mentions of homophobia, alcohol consumption, claustrophobia, death, cult like activity, hazing, bullying. Eva is our present day character and I really enjoyed reading from her. I found her very relatable and interesting. Her home life sucks, and all she wants is to find friends. When she's invited to join a secret society she latches onto that friendship. Alongside that she joins the cross-country team and meets Erik, who is a sweet bi boy whom we love. Erik introduces Eva to the fall-out shelter and that's when the mystery begins. It's fun to watch read along as they figure things out, and I really enjoyed Eva overall. Alongside Eva we have all of the shitty people from the Fives, Erik and the rest of the cross-country team which includes a few homophobic dudes who are dead to me, and a sweet group of Dungeons and Dragons playing baby geeks. Connie is an interesting character, and very much felt like an accurate representation of the time period that she's from. She's more of a follower than a leader, and relies on her friend Betty a lot. With the threat of nuclear war looming over her head, Connie is nervous and easily coerced into the bunker. Once in the bunker it was really intriguing to follow her and see what happened, and though she doesn't have a big personality I really loved seeing her gain her voice over the course of the novel. In the bunker with Connie we have her best friend Betty who low key sucks, Bobby who was kind of unmemorable, Craig who also sucked, Steve who was straight up the worst, and sweet Helen who did not want to be there. There's also her teacher, Andy Kraus, who set the whole thing up and is also literally the worst. Everyone was incredibly well written, with distinctive personalities and traits. The setting of this book is primarily at Hardwick Preparatory Academy, in the bunker for most of Connie's story, and around the school for Eva's. It's a very lovely academia setting, easily imaginable in my mind. There are two plots in this book: Connie's which details what happens in the bunker, and Eva in the future trying to figure out what happened in the bunker and being recruited into a cult. These stories are perfectly woven together in a way that makes it so you just can't put the book down. There's some incredible sleuthing from Eva and Erik, offset by the very unsettling events happening within the bunker. The ending of this book brings to the two storylines together in a very fun and well done way. I really enjoyed seeing Eva and Connie's stories cross over, and enjoyed the way that this novel ended. This story is expertly written, the two story lines are woven together so perfectly that you just keep flipping the page because everything ends on a giant cliffhanger. I think that this book had a really strong mystery, and very well done secondary plot lines as well. There is light romance done in a very gradual way, which I prefer over insta love. Overall I think that this book is incredible. It was impossible to put down, with realistic and interesting characters, and a wildly fun heart racing plot. If you love books like Truly Devious, One of Us is Lying or A Study in Charlotte, definitely check this one out! My reviews up after release date, but thank you to Harper Collins Canada for sending me an ARC!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)

    You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight 4.5* Much like the author's debut, Don't Breathe a Word is told in dual perspectives from two different time periods. In this novel, we first meet Eva, who is feeling pretty lost in her current situation. She feels like an outcast in her new school, but she felt like one before, too. In the past time period, we meet Connie, who attends the same boarding school, only sixty years earlier. I You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight 4.5* Much like the author's debut, Don't Breathe a Word is told in dual perspectives from two different time periods. In this novel, we first meet Eva, who is feeling pretty lost in her current situation. She feels like an outcast in her new school, but she felt like one before, too. In the past time period, we meet Connie, who attends the same boarding school, only sixty years earlier. I really loved both women's stories, frankly! They are connected by a mystery, one that unravels in Connie's time, but that Eva is trying to get to the bottom of. There are some things happening at the school that simply aren't sitting well with Eva, and I loved that she was willing to investigate, even if the cost could come to her personal happiness. Much of what Eva uncovers leads us to Connie's story, which took place during the Cold War, amidst some pretty serious paranoia. I'm going to keep this very vague because it is, after all, about uncovering a decades long mystery! But I love how both women had to make some very serious, often uncomfortable decisions, and then had to deal with the fallout from said decisions. It was incredibly thought provoking, and I loved seeing how the stories came to connect so perfectly! Bottom Line: An incredibly strong sophomore offering, Don't Breathe a Word pulled me in to both the mysterious circumstances and incredible characters from the start.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dani Gobbo (Current Chapter)

    More people should be reading this book, it was such a mysterious, intriguing, immersive and entertaining book!! As it usually happens with YA thrillers, I wanted it to be a little bit more intense. But I loved the secret society and the whole psychological experiment aspect and thought the teenagers' reactions to the whole situation was very believable (the adults not so much, maybe, but it didn't bother me). More people should be reading this book, it was such a mysterious, intriguing, immersive and entertaining book!! As it usually happens with YA thrillers, I wanted it to be a little bit more intense. But I loved the secret society and the whole psychological experiment aspect and thought the teenagers' reactions to the whole situation was very believable (the adults not so much, maybe, but it didn't bother me).

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jenni

    A mystery, set in two different time periods: today and 1962. Back in 1962, Hardwick Preparatory Academy builds a fallout shelter after all of the cold war scares. Six kids are selected to spend a few days in the shelter to "test it out" but something goes terribly wrong. The shelter isn't spoken of after that. Modern day Eva and the other students at the academy don't even know about the shelter when the story begins. But what happened down there? And why has it been such a secret for almost 60 A mystery, set in two different time periods: today and 1962. Back in 1962, Hardwick Preparatory Academy builds a fallout shelter after all of the cold war scares. Six kids are selected to spend a few days in the shelter to "test it out" but something goes terribly wrong. The shelter isn't spoken of after that. Modern day Eva and the other students at the academy don't even know about the shelter when the story begins. But what happened down there? And why has it been such a secret for almost 60 years? It was fun to see how the modern day Eva works to solve a case that happened in 1962 at her elite boarding school. Fans of Truly Devious will appreciate this story.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Review Copy – This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Don't Breathe a Word is an immersive thriller told from the points of view of two girls set sixty years apart. It's a standalone that takes elements of dark academia and The Cold War and brings them together in a strong and enjoyable plot. What I liked most about Don't Breathe a Word was the characters. Connie and Eva are well rounded, fully fleshed out individuals and i Review Copy – This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Don't Breathe a Word is an immersive thriller told from the points of view of two girls set sixty years apart. It's a standalone that takes elements of dark academia and The Cold War and brings them together in a strong and enjoyable plot. What I liked most about Don't Breathe a Word was the characters. Connie and Eva are well rounded, fully fleshed out individuals and it was easy to see how they were developing on the page. One of the best aspects of Connie and Eva is how relatable they are, particularly with the longing for friendship and the desire to belong to something - which I think is particularly poignant after so much time spent away from friends and loved ones after the pandemic. One of the strongest elements of Don't Breathe a Word is the Cold War plot from Connie's point of view. I thought that Taylor's ability to utilise the paranoia and fear that swept up so many people in the 1960s was excellent. It was a fascinating and refreshing take on the thriller genre. I think that the way the characters started to suspect and turn on each other, was brilliant and gave the book a Lord of the Flies feel, which I haven't seen much of before and enjoyed. Unfortunately, there were some aspects that for me felt a little lacklustre. The Fives, in particular, who at the beginning were intriguing and mysterious, were almost forgotten about at the end. I think I would have enjoyed more time spent with the Fives and getting to understand the dynamics of the group further. The fact that the mystery element of the book was wrapped up 100 pages or so before the end of the novel left me feeling slightly anti-climatic. I had expected a second twist or something equally as dramatic to happen, but as that didn't happen, I felt the ending fell a little flat. I also think that dropping Connie's point of view as soon as the mystery was revealed didn't help the flatness of the ending and so I feel the pacing of the book was severely impacted. Overall, I enjoyed reading Don't Breathe a Word. It was a fun and interesting read with a compelling concept. I would recommend this if you're looking to start reading books with dark academic elements or if your looking for a thriller with a satisfying ending. Many thanks to HarperTeen for sending me an ARC for review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Marcella

    Secret society. Buried history. Dark Academia setting. Needless to say, I'm sold. And I love this book! The setting is immersive I can see myself walking in Hardwick as student, wearing blazers and hang out with friends while withholding terrible secrets. The dual POV is nice and we can feel different atmosphere from different time settings. We can also see a lot of teenage problem : peer pressure, the need to impress, unsupportive parents, not so healthy crush, etc etc. Overall, I like this book. Secret society. Buried history. Dark Academia setting. Needless to say, I'm sold. And I love this book! The setting is immersive I can see myself walking in Hardwick as student, wearing blazers and hang out with friends while withholding terrible secrets. The dual POV is nice and we can feel different atmosphere from different time settings. We can also see a lot of teenage problem : peer pressure, the need to impress, unsupportive parents, not so healthy crush, etc etc. Overall, I like this book. Nice characters and settings and it gave me chills at times. Yes, it is a bit predictable but enjoyable read nevertheless. Not focused on sappy romance is also a nice point!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ninna

    This was a pretty entertaining read - a solid 3.5 stars rounded up to 4. This is a dual timeline storyline but is pretty easy to keep straight regarding the characters and actions which isn't always true when a story time jumps. The stories parallel each other in a lot of ways and, of course, they come together in the end. The characters and relationships change and grow as the mystery unfolds and it kept me interested throughout but what I found most interesting was the concept of "groupthink." This was a pretty entertaining read - a solid 3.5 stars rounded up to 4. This is a dual timeline storyline but is pretty easy to keep straight regarding the characters and actions which isn't always true when a story time jumps. The stories parallel each other in a lot of ways and, of course, they come together in the end. The characters and relationships change and grow as the mystery unfolds and it kept me interested throughout but what I found most interesting was the concept of "groupthink." The author uses both modern day school setting and cold war era red scare mentality to expand upon the concept. It shows how close we always are to giving up ourselves to authority and I think that's an important commentary for today's society and gave it the bump up to 4 stars.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joi

    This book was so good. I wasn't expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. It alternates points of view and time periods. One main character is Eva, who is in present day. The other main character is Connie who was around during the 50s and 60s. This book is about a boarding school that has a secret society. During the 50s and 60s one of the teachers comes up with a social experiment that ends badly. During present day, the society is afforded privileges that no other student gets. Eva is tapped to This book was so good. I wasn't expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. It alternates points of view and time periods. One main character is Eva, who is in present day. The other main character is Connie who was around during the 50s and 60s. This book is about a boarding school that has a secret society. During the 50s and 60s one of the teachers comes up with a social experiment that ends badly. During present day, the society is afforded privileges that no other student gets. Eva is tapped to become a member but she notices some things that aren't right and is destined to bring the group down.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alanna King

    I really enjoyed this book! The pace was fine at the beginning, but when Erik entered Eva's story, I couldn't put it down. It reads like a grown-up Trixie Belden -- sneaking around a private school, having teen morals tested in two generations, secret societies, politics and bomb shelters...what's not to like? I like Eva's back story trying to find some confidence and finds The Fives, the cross-country team, Erik and the quest for justice. I would highly recommend this to any high school student I really enjoyed this book! The pace was fine at the beginning, but when Erik entered Eva's story, I couldn't put it down. It reads like a grown-up Trixie Belden -- sneaking around a private school, having teen morals tested in two generations, secret societies, politics and bomb shelters...what's not to like? I like Eva's back story trying to find some confidence and finds The Fives, the cross-country team, Erik and the quest for justice. I would highly recommend this to any high school student.

  16. 4 out of 5

    The Candid Cover (Olivia & Lori)

    3.5 Stars Review to come!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    After reading Jordyn Taylor's first book, The Paper Girl of Paris, I was so excited for her second book. It's another historical fiction winner from her! In Don't Breathe A Word, Jordyn takes us back to a fascinating time in U.S. history when fallout shelters were being built out of fear of a nuclear war. Through the eyes and experiences of teenagers in the 60's and present day, we learn about a secret society at one particular boarding school and the mystery surrounding it. Jordyn skillfully im After reading Jordyn Taylor's first book, The Paper Girl of Paris, I was so excited for her second book. It's another historical fiction winner from her! In Don't Breathe A Word, Jordyn takes us back to a fascinating time in U.S. history when fallout shelters were being built out of fear of a nuclear war. Through the eyes and experiences of teenagers in the 60's and present day, we learn about a secret society at one particular boarding school and the mystery surrounding it. Jordyn skillfully imparts the struggles of being a teenager and finding one's way in both periods of time. I felt my pulse quickening as the mystery unfolds and had a hard time putting the book down. I also enjoyed the added romance in her story. Great writing! Don't miss this one!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

    ‘Don’t Breathe A Word’ is part YA mystery in the vein of ‘One of Us Is Lying’ and part dark academia along the lines of ‘Plain Bad Heroines‘. Like the latter, it takes place across two timelines – the present, where Eva has just started at a new, exclusive boarding school, Hardwick Academy, and 1962, where six students enter a bunker built under the threat of the Cold War – but only five emerge alive. It’s an engaging, twisty tale with plenty of surprises. There are elements that require a bit o ‘Don’t Breathe A Word’ is part YA mystery in the vein of ‘One of Us Is Lying’ and part dark academia along the lines of ‘Plain Bad Heroines‘. Like the latter, it takes place across two timelines – the present, where Eva has just started at a new, exclusive boarding school, Hardwick Academy, and 1962, where six students enter a bunker built under the threat of the Cold War – but only five emerge alive. It’s an engaging, twisty tale with plenty of surprises. There are elements that require a bit of suspension of disbelief but, taken at face value, this is a solid mystery with a highly satisfying ending. Eva has always felt like she doesn’t belong. An accidental pregnancy, she was replaced in her mother’s affections as soon as her husband and legitimate child came along – and the final straw has seen her shipped off to boarding school against her will. At Hardwick, she’s on the outside of established social groups and more of an outsider than ever – that is, until she receives an invitation to join a secret society known as the Fives. With the Fives, she’s finally part of something – finally seen as special. But there’s more to the Fives than there first seems, and the more Eva learns, the more uneasy she becomes. Just how many secrets are the Fives ensuring stay buried? In 1962, Hardwick Academy has constructed a nuclear fallout shelter to counter the escalating threat of the Cold War – and to test it out, six students are invited to volunteer to stay overnight. Connie would never have volunteered – except the exercise is being run by Mr Kraus, her best friend Betty’s latest obsession, and school golden boy Craig Allenby has also volunteered. She can’t pass up the opportunity to spend four days locked in with him. However, it quickly becomes apparent that there’s more to the exercise than they first thought – and as things start to escalate, Connie starts to worry that everything will end in disaster. Both plotlines are engaging. Reading about the threat of the Cold War and the psychological impact on those growing up in the sixties is fascinating, if horrific, as is the difference in gender roles and the way authority figures are treated. The politics of high school are incredibly familiar, and its hard not to feel for Connie. While it’s never stated on page, Connie also has a clear anxiety disorder, and it’s great to see this not glossed over and have a significant impact on how she acts. In the present day, it’s initially unclear how the timelines will intersect – but as reveals are slowly made, it becomes obvious that there’s a massive secret, and the tension steadily ramps up. At the same time, Eva must deal with the joy of being chosen for the first time in her life alongside the growing fear that the Fives are far darker than she initially thought. The way she grapples with her innate clinginess and fear of being alone is well portrayed, and while its always clear which side she’ll choose Woods does well to make her decision a difficult one. The characters are delightfully complex. Initially, Eva can come across as hard to like – as a result of her childhood, she has an outward air of irreverence combined with an internal clinginess so strong its off-putting – but as the reader gets to know her, she flourishes into a practical girl with great instincts and a strong moral compass. Her character arc is excellent, and its wonderful to see her start to find happiness despite the circumstances. In contrast, the reader immediately feels sorry for Connie – the anxiety she suffers with is overwhelming, and she’s led along by her friend Betty who seems to mean well but doesn’t always go about things the right way. Connie is sweet and quiet, but also naive – and as events unfold, it becomes apparent that her view on things is far too black and white. Again, she has an excellent character arc, and its impossible not to root for her. The supporting cast fall a little more into stereotypes, but they play their roles well and have enough dimension to avoid being caricatures. The story as a whole isn’t the most original, with elements reminiscent of other stories in the YA mystery genre, but again it holds its own well enough to prove a worthwhile read. Some parts are wildly implausible – its unclear how the original secret was covered up so well – but this is fiction, and allowances can be made. The story reads on the lighter side, so detailed criticisms of possibility seem unfair. Overall, this is an enjoyable entry to the YA mystery genre with a highly effective two-timelines structure and two complex and compelling protagonists. The historical elements with the Cold War lend this a dimension which sets it apart enough from its compatriots to be highly worth a read. Recommended for fans of YA mystery and the lighter end of dark academia. *Thanks to Harper360 YA for providing an ARC – this in no way affects the content of this review*

  19. 4 out of 5

    Starr ❇✌❇

    I received an ARC from Edelweiss TW: death by head wound, claustrophobia 4 Eva's been kicked out of the family- sent to a boarding school by her mother and stepfather with barely any warning, she's adrift and desperate to fit in somewhere in this place where no one seems to have any room for her. When she's offered the chance to join a secret society called "The Fives", she jumps at the invitation. But when she stumbles upon a covered up death from the 60s, The Fives' reactions makes her feel t I received an ARC from Edelweiss TW: death by head wound, claustrophobia 4 Eva's been kicked out of the family- sent to a boarding school by her mother and stepfather with barely any warning, she's adrift and desperate to fit in somewhere in this place where no one seems to have any room for her. When she's offered the chance to join a secret society called "The Fives", she jumps at the invitation. But when she stumbles upon a covered up death from the 60s, The Fives' reactions makes her feel there's something sinister about the people she's surrounded by. In 1969, Connie lives in fear of the Atomic Bomb. Convinced by her best friend, and the inclusion popular and attractive Craig, she signs up to test the school's new bomb shelter. The test is nothing like she imagined and, and it isn't long before something goes unfixably wrong. Dual timeline mysteries are hit or miss for me, so I wasn't sure how this one would work out. I'm happy to say it works really well. This book has great pacing. The switch between present and 1969 never feels jarring, and the storylines come together to paint a full picture. The information about the mysterious death in the shelter are dropped far apart and with enough impact to make it really compelling. The discovery of another piece of the puzzle was so satisfying every time, and I genuinely didn't want to stop reading. The concept is really compelling too. I love the idea of the bomb shelter test, and the tension of nuclear bombs haunting Connie's POV throughout. The experiment within the shelter, and the environment of the shelter itself, really worked for me, and the creepy connection to The Fives and their oddly subservient air to their leader makes the modern day sections feel ominous. Beyond the mystery, the romantic aspect is also nice. It's a romance that is very much on the sidelines, not even made more than just subtext for a large portion of the book. The characters are cute together, their friendship is fun to read and follow the evolution of, and the growing romance between the tense mystery is a nice added lightness. I also really appreciated the ending. This is one of those rare times a neat wrap up actually feels earned, and the catharsis and relief that comes from that was palpable. Where things fall apart for me a bit is in the tying together of the shelter experiment and The Fives. I don't understand why the group would have formed at all. I don't see why the event that triggered the formation oft he original group would have continued it into a full fledged thing, or why that group would have had anything to do with gaining connections. It felt like a half-baked idea, honestly. While I can see why the Leader of The Fives would be taken by the methods (to support the idea that they weren't at fault, for one thing), I just don't get how that would have ever triggered years upon years of a secret society. I also wasn't a fan of Eva. I like her in general- if this were a different kind of story I'd probably root for her. But as a mystery protagonist the lack of survival instinct she has, as well as how much she just can not keep a secret drove me nuts, and made her feel less and less believable to me. I loved seeing part of her pre-Hardwick story get touched on again with her sister, and I love the growing bond we get to see there, but since nothing else about her situation seems to get dealt with it was unsatisfying. If you like dual timelines mysteries, secret societies, and psychological experiments I highly recommend picking this book up.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Beth Jones

    Thank you to Harper 360 for an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! Also, happy release day to this one! Wow. This book was screwed up. Don’t Breathe a Word follows two girls sixty years apart, at the same boarding school. It’s 1962, and Connie is one of six students to stay in the nuclear fallout shelter in the boarding school. In present day, Eva is new to the school and is invited to join the Fives, an elite society within the school. But throughout her story, she finds out m Thank you to Harper 360 for an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! Also, happy release day to this one! Wow. This book was screwed up. Don’t Breathe a Word follows two girls sixty years apart, at the same boarding school. It’s 1962, and Connie is one of six students to stay in the nuclear fallout shelter in the boarding school. In present day, Eva is new to the school and is invited to join the Fives, an elite society within the school. But throughout her story, she finds out more about Connie’s experience in 1962 and why only Five people come out of the nuclear fallout shelter… I enjoyed a lot about this book. It was intriguing, thrilling and honestly really creepy in places. I did not expect this one to be quite as creepy as it was and it did make my skin crawl. I loved the dark academia atmosphere of the school and the murder that happened in 1962. The setting of the school was really interesting and I could picture the school and the surroundings well. I also enjoyed the multiple POV, which switched between Eva and Connie and between 1962 and present day. Flicking back and forth between them felt like a good balance but also kept me hooked on both of their stories. But unfortunately, something just fell a bit flat for me with this book as a whole. I can’t pinpoint exactly what made me feel this way, but I just thought it was missing something. I think part of this was the lack of intrigue and intensity. Due to the nature of what happened to Connie, nobody is particularly pinpointed, and took out a whodonnit element that I was kind of craving. I think due to the lack of this element, I wasn’t quite as gripped as I was hoping to be. I also didn’t feel quite as connected to the main characters as I wanted to, and I felt like I was missing out on big parts of their lives. Particularly Eva, who appears in this book more than Connie. I didn’t realise until near the end of the book that Eva talks about her family in a particular way that is not really explored at length within the book or is backed up by any discussions she has with the reader. I have to also drop a mention to the fact that I just don’t understand some of the logic in this book. Some of the decisions the characters made really infuriated me and made me want to throw the book at the wall. However, naivety does play a big part in some of these decisions and the characters do come to realisations throughout the book. Also, it is worth noting that some of the stuff that happens is just super screwed up. I won’t talk about this in detail, but be prepared to be a bit taken aback by some of the elements of this one. Overall, this was super interesting and I found the topic intriguing. I loved the idea of it but some of the way it played out let me down a little. I may sound a bit negative throughout this review, but I did still enjoy this book a lot and I would still recommend this one if you are interested in it! ★★★★ 3.5 out of 5 stars -Beth May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

  21. 5 out of 5

    Zaina

    Thank you @harper360ya for sending me an ARC of this unputdownable mystery/thriller. Don’t Breathe A Word is set in an elite boarding school called Hardwick Preparatory Academy and follows two protagonists separated by sixty years. Eva, new to the school, gets recruited into a secret society hiding all of Hardwick’s secrets, which she slowly begins to uncover. Connie in 1962, during a time of high political tension, signs up to be in a test group for the school’s newly built nuclear fallout shelt Thank you @harper360ya for sending me an ARC of this unputdownable mystery/thriller. Don’t Breathe A Word is set in an elite boarding school called Hardwick Preparatory Academy and follows two protagonists separated by sixty years. Eva, new to the school, gets recruited into a secret society hiding all of Hardwick’s secrets, which she slowly begins to uncover. Connie in 1962, during a time of high political tension, signs up to be in a test group for the school’s newly built nuclear fallout shelter, which turns out to be a twisted 4-day long social experiment on the students- one that may have deadly consequences. *dun dun dun* I thoroughly enjoyed this book!! I was slightly worried going into this that it would play at the same tropes and clichés of mystery novels with school settings but instead, Taylor serves up something different, exciting and ominous. The atmosphere of the story- *chef’s kiss* This dual perspective mystery was written really well and the progression of events, including switching between the two POVs, was done expertly. The two characters’ voices were distinct and their opposite natures complimented their individual storylines nicely. There was a perfect amount of darkness and eeriness sprinkled with a bit of humor and light romance. And the plot was super intriguing, I had such a good time reading and making up theories! There is however a point in the story where a lot becomes clear and there’s still half the book left, making the rest not so much a guessing game anymore but more so suspense to see how it all plays out. I loved Erik’s character so much!! There was on page bisexual representation for him which I adored. His and Eva’s characters were really well fleshed out and I felt deeply connected to them. Overall, this one was a solid and quick read and I absolutely recommend checking it out! 🌟

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Stella

    I didn’t have huge expectations going into this book because it’s not my typical genre (not a big thriller/mystery reader), but I really enjoyed this one! The book alternates chapters between the present and 1962. In the present, a student named Eva gets sent to a boarding school for junior year and is having a hard time making new friends. She ends up getting invited to join an elite secret society and goes through some crazy initiation trials in an effort to be accepted. The further involved sh I didn’t have huge expectations going into this book because it’s not my typical genre (not a big thriller/mystery reader), but I really enjoyed this one! The book alternates chapters between the present and 1962. In the present, a student named Eva gets sent to a boarding school for junior year and is having a hard time making new friends. She ends up getting invited to join an elite secret society and goes through some crazy initiation trials in an effort to be accepted. The further involved she gets, the more it seems like some shady things are going on and being covered up and she starts to question everything. In 1962, our main character is Connie, a girl who has a lot of anxiety about the possibility of actually having to use the bomb shelter her school has during this Cold War era. An overly enthusiastic teacher suggests doing practice periods for kids to spend 4 days in the bomb shelter so they are better prepared. Her friend talks her into signing up to be part of the first group of six, but as soon as the “drill” starts, it’s clear something weird is going on. This book was probably more interesting to me because of my high school psychology class. It definitely dives in to how people obey authority and start falling into that group think aspect, even when their gut tells them their actions are wrong. The *only* thing that kept this from a 5 star for me was the main part of the mystery is revealed a little early (about 80 pages before the end?). I felt like it could have been stretched out more since the pacing before that point was great in slow reveals keeping you intrigued. The ending was still good, but the mystery was gone and the tone shifted a bit. Still would definitely recommend this one if you want to read a lighter thriller novel. It has good themes of what makes a good friend that I think people of any age can relate to.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    Thank you to harper360ya for an ARC of this book. First things first, I LOVED this book (admittedly, perhaps not too surprising considering it involves a mysterious death, a secret society, a boarding school and the Cold War). One of the best elements of the book was definitely the dual POV. Both Connie (who's introduction was one of my favourite moments) and Eva were likeable characters with interesting perspectives - between the two of them, the book didn't have a single dull moment. I also love Thank you to harper360ya for an ARC of this book. First things first, I LOVED this book (admittedly, perhaps not too surprising considering it involves a mysterious death, a secret society, a boarding school and the Cold War). One of the best elements of the book was definitely the dual POV. Both Connie (who's introduction was one of my favourite moments) and Eva were likeable characters with interesting perspectives - between the two of them, the book didn't have a single dull moment. I also loved the way the dual POV allowed the story to go between 1962 and the present day - it made the whole book really satisfying to read as certain phrases or characters that were introduced in one POV showed up in the other. There were several such reveals that made me audibly 'oooohhh' because of how invested I'd become and how exciting it was to see the story building up and the mystery unravelling. I also really liked the relationships in the book. I appreciated how none of them felt static - Connie and Eva's perspective of certain other characters changed throughout the book. Especially on Eva's side of the story, the way she made new friends throughout definitely made the story feel more authentic as a whole in the sense of acknowledging her life as a student beyond the main plot of the story. (Also, Eva's romance was very cute too.) Now, my final point has to be about the atmosphere that the book built up because it was *phenomenal*. When I was reading, I was completely enthralled by the story and often found myself feeling this mix of, like, unnerving fear and discomfort for the characters. Just, overall, all the characters and scenarios in this book felt ridiculously real as I was reading it. This really was just a good, satisfying mystery that I'd wholeheartedly recommend.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer MacMullin

    4.5 stars; I just love books set at boarding schools! This was an awesome book. Thank you to HCC Frenzy for sending me an ARC ❤️ The book alternates between two perspectives Eva (Present day) and Connie (1962) So Eva is starting her junior year at a fancy boarding school in New York called Hardwick Preparatory Academy. She’s never really felt like she’d belonged anywhere. So, when she is invited to join the Fives, an elite secret society, she jumps at the opportunity. But she starts to wonder if th 4.5 stars; I just love books set at boarding schools! This was an awesome book. Thank you to HCC Frenzy for sending me an ARC ❤️ The book alternates between two perspectives Eva (Present day) and Connie (1962) So Eva is starting her junior year at a fancy boarding school in New York called Hardwick Preparatory Academy. She’s never really felt like she’d belonged anywhere. So, when she is invited to join the Fives, an elite secret society, she jumps at the opportunity. But she starts to wonder if the Fives are hiding something underneath all of their parties and privileges. Soon enough, she discovers that something tragic happened at Hardwick back in the 60’s In 1962, Connie is absolutely terrified of the threat of nuclear war. The idea of spending a few days testing out the fallout shelter beneath the school is enough to make her nauseous, but when she learns that her crush, the golden boy Craig Allenby is going, she signs up. However, it’s not long before Connie and the other students realize that something isn’t right and this ‘test’ isn’t what they thought it would be. As they are forced to follow an escalating series of commands, Connie realizes that one wrong move could have dangerous consequences. Separated by sixty years, Eva and Connie’s stories become intertwined as Eva unravels the mystery of how six students went into the fallout shelter all those years ago . . . but only five came out While I enjoyed both POVs, Connie’s was my favorite! It was a little darker and more suspenseful as I tried to figure out the specifics of Hardwick’s dark past. It definitely gives off cult vibes, if you’re into that. I definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for a YA mystery/thriller type book

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    The first rule of being a five is you don't talk about the fives. We follow the lives of two girls attending an elite boarding school but who are separated by sixty years. We have two perspectives in this story, Connie in the year 1962 and Eva in the present day. Eva is recruited into a secret society called the Fives and must earn their trust through initiations. The reason they are called the fives is because only five people are recruited a year, this has links to when and why the society was The first rule of being a five is you don't talk about the fives. We follow the lives of two girls attending an elite boarding school but who are separated by sixty years. We have two perspectives in this story, Connie in the year 1962 and Eva in the present day. Eva is recruited into a secret society called the Fives and must earn their trust through initiations. The reason they are called the fives is because only five people are recruited a year, this has links to when and why the society was created back in 1962 but I wont say any more as it would be a huge spoiler! The fives are also required to keep the society secret and cannot even acknowledge each other outside of 'meetings'. Eva finds herself questioning what the fives stand for when she is asked to report to the Dean about a rumour she has heard of a secret cold war bunker under the school. This is where our Second perspective comes in. Connie attends the school in 1962 at the height of the cold war and is struggling with the paranoia that she develops due to fears from propaganda of upcoming war and missiles. She fears an attack and finds herself pressured into an experiment. Six students will be locked in a war bunker under the school to prepare for an upcoming attack and learn survival skills. The six students start viewing this experiment in different ways and Connie finds that she is starting to question if the experiment is really what it seems. The girls lives are connected through the society of Fives but in very different ways. However, they both follow the same path of belief that the fives are not what they thought it would be and not at all what they want to follow. The fives, and Connie and Eva, are connected by other characters but again, I don't want to ruin any surprises! This book was fantastic and I found myself unable to put it down as I wanted to try and solve the mysteries myself. Its also full of plot twists that I did not see coming but that fit the story perfectly. The 'plot twists' were not overdone or random. They fit like a completed jigsaw and was written very well. I was on the edge of my seat and found myself gasping out loud at points as well as finding myself smiling. The blurb on the book does make it seem like it might be for a school age audience as its a secret society at boarding school and it seems like its for a younger audience but it isn't! The blurb did make me think.. oh.. not sure if this is for me as it seems a bit juvenile but I was wrong! Its full of mysteries and links that you will find yourself craving to solve.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Stacey-Lea

    3.5 stars Don’t Breathe a Word has all the right elements; boarding school setting, dual time lines/perspectives with a mysterious event unfolding in the past that they’re trying to solve in the present, and a secret society with dark undertones. It was really checking all the boxes for me on paper but didn’t quite grip me as much as I had hoped. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a fun and interesting read, but the pacing is just a little too slow for me. It took until about half way for the myst 3.5 stars Don’t Breathe a Word has all the right elements; boarding school setting, dual time lines/perspectives with a mysterious event unfolding in the past that they’re trying to solve in the present, and a secret society with dark undertones. It was really checking all the boxes for me on paper but didn’t quite grip me as much as I had hoped. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a fun and interesting read, but the pacing is just a little too slow for me. It took until about half way for the mystery element to really come into play and for the secret society to take form. There’s a lot of set up, which can be great, but without anything behind it felt a little slow going. I did find an aspect of the older timeline fascinating though as it was set during the cold war period during 1950s/60s in the USA. This was a really interesting look into the atomic bomb paranoia that swept many people up and how gave voice to how it must have felt to have this threat looming over the country. I haven’t read much set in this era so it was a really refreshing take. I fear I had higher expectations for this as it sounded reminiscent of my favourite YA mystery series Truly Devious, which had me holding Don’t Breath a Word to a pretty high standard. But I promise it still a solid read in its own right!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kristy

    I loved this fast paced, YA mystery thriller set in the present day and in 1962. When modern-day high schooler Eva gets sent to a boarding school in upstate New York, she is hungry for connections of any kind. So when she gets invited to join an elite secret society, known as the Fives, she goes along with the strange initiations despite the discomfort and unease she feels. Flashback to 1962, in the same boarding school, Connie is a shy, reserved junior who tends to get pulled into things she do I loved this fast paced, YA mystery thriller set in the present day and in 1962. When modern-day high schooler Eva gets sent to a boarding school in upstate New York, she is hungry for connections of any kind. So when she gets invited to join an elite secret society, known as the Fives, she goes along with the strange initiations despite the discomfort and unease she feels. Flashback to 1962, in the same boarding school, Connie is a shy, reserved junior who tends to get pulled into things she doesn’t want to do by her bubbly best friend and roommate. She also happens to be terrified of the ever present threat of nuclear war. So when she gets pressured to join a “training” experiment involving a newly built fall out shelter at the school, she reluctantly accepts. How do these two stories relate? You’ll have to read it to find out... I really liked the choices the author made in telling this story. In my opinion, it all stays very believable and never ventures into the melodramatic (a common problem with thrillers). I liked how her characters were written as well— young, high school aged women learning to trust their instincts, while also feeling anxious and insecure. Mild enough for grade 7 and up! A great choice for mystery fans, particularly those who loved Truly Devious.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jenn

    When I first heard about this novel, I thought it sounded like a mix between The Wave and The Hole. Having read it, I can now say I was right. It's a fantastically clever idea, really well written. Over two time periods, the book explores a legacy of secrets and betrayal from the Cold War. The two stories unfold side by side, which I don't always like but really enjoyed this time. I kind of wish we hadn't known which student was going to die before it happened - we knew Connie survived, and one o When I first heard about this novel, I thought it sounded like a mix between The Wave and The Hole. Having read it, I can now say I was right. It's a fantastically clever idea, really well written. Over two time periods, the book explores a legacy of secrets and betrayal from the Cold War. The two stories unfold side by side, which I don't always like but really enjoyed this time. I kind of wish we hadn't known which student was going to die before it happened - we knew Connie survived, and one of the students is a teacher in Eva's time period so he obviously survived, but I would have loved to have been surprised by the death. I loved the escalating tension in the bunker, and how quickly and easily everyone was swept in to it. It's terrifying, but very true to life. I was surprised it was so hard for Eva to find information, though. Even in the sixties, I'd have thought a student dying on campus would make the news and be easy enough to find afterwards. But the school is portrayed as very powerful, so maybe they hushed it all up - probably much easier to do back then. This is a fantastic read. I was completely absorbed in it (stayed up way too late if I'm honest!) and I think it's going to do really well.

  29. 4 out of 5

    jess :)

    Thank you so much to Harper360 for sending me a copy of this! Don’t Breathe a Word follows two girls, Eva and Connie, separated by 60 years as they navigate their way through a secret society- one of which joins and the other a founding member. I really enjoyed this and despite some of it being predictable, I was still thoroughly invested and intrigued to see how the events would pan out. It took a little while for the main characters to become likable to me, they started off as being naïve and f Thank you so much to Harper360 for sending me a copy of this! Don’t Breathe a Word follows two girls, Eva and Connie, separated by 60 years as they navigate their way through a secret society- one of which joins and the other a founding member. I really enjoyed this and despite some of it being predictable, I was still thoroughly invested and intrigued to see how the events would pan out. It took a little while for the main characters to become likable to me, they started off as being naïve and following others- definitely ‘sheep’. I understand that was the intention so I enjoyed the development they had even more. The dual perspective worked very well and I like that their stories eventually merged! I appreciate the ending but I didn’t necessarily find it entirely fair. I also really like how despite the plot of Eva’s story is her finding the shelter and what happened, she also made some good friends and had a realistic teenage development with the boy she liked! I definitely recommend this! Main points to hook you in: dark academia vibes, boarding school, dark secret covered up for 60 years, intertwining perspectives, one perspective set during the cold war!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Allysa

    An interesting and engaging dual perspective and dual timeline mystery that shows the importance of finding yourself and your voice. In 1962, Connie is convinced to take part in a six person fallout shelter experiment at her boarding school headed by the “cool” teacher, who insists everyone call him by his first name. When the experiment takes a turn to an uncomfortable, and questionable, turn, a pact is formed between five of the participants to keep the events a secret. I the present, Eva is the An interesting and engaging dual perspective and dual timeline mystery that shows the importance of finding yourself and your voice. In 1962, Connie is convinced to take part in a six person fallout shelter experiment at her boarding school headed by the “cool” teacher, who insists everyone call him by his first name. When the experiment takes a turn to an uncomfortable, and questionable, turn, a pact is formed between five of the participants to keep the events a secret. I the present, Eva is the new student at Hardwick and is struggling greatly to find a place and make friends. When she’s invited to join a secret society, the 5s, she is excited to have a chance to find a place. But as the “tests” and events to join the organization make her feel more uncomfortable she becomes aware of a mystery surrounding a rumored fallout shelter on the grounds. Eva’s journey of solving the mystery, finding her place and her voice is powerful and a great read.

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