A Novel

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An Indie Next and LibraryReads pick
Maile narrates the audiobook
Penguin Random House Reader’s Guide

When Liv and Nora decide to take their husbands and children on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled. The adults are lulled by the ship’s comfort and ease. The four children—ages six to eleven—love the nonstop buffet and their newfound independence. But when they all go ashore for an adventure in Central America, a series of minor misfortunes and miscalculations leads the families farther and farther from the safety of the ship. One minute the children are there, and the next they're gone. The parents, accustomed to security and control, turn on each other and blame themselves, while the seemingly helpless children discover resources they never knew they possessed. 

Do Not Become Alarmed is a story about the protective force of innocence and the limits of parental power, and the way a crisis shifts our perceptions of what matters most. 

Indie Bound
Barnes & Noble

“This summer’s undoubtable smash hit will ring every alarm. This is an addictive, heart-palpitating story.”
— Marie Claire

“Maile Meloy’s Do Not Become Alarmed will keep you up all night, compelled by the book’s twisty plot and seductive, tightly wound suspense, and afterward it will just keep you up.  Meloy…is interested in delivering more than just a first-class international literary intrigue. She ups the ante by focusing on the inherent racial and class issues that inform the story…No one escapes the novel unscathed, but Meloy’s message about the privilege, and naïveté, that Americans of means enjoy is unmistakable. It gives this fast-paced thriller, with its alternating adult and child perspectives, an extra layer of complexity.  …Do Not Become Alarmed does, in fact, sound an alarm—about the impact of social, cultural, racial, familial, and class ills—that no one can afford to tune out.”
— Elle

“Seen on pool loungers and beach towels from Nantucket to Santa Monica since the hardcover's debut in June, this thriller has become the page-turner of summer 2017.”

“Meloy deftly shifts point of view from one person to the next, giving voice with impressive authenticity to 13 characters… While feeding us high drama, Meloy also encourages serious reflection — on race and privilege, sex in marriage, what it means to be an American, the innate resilience and resourcefulness of children, and particularly, on the limits of parental power.”
—Jean Hey, Los Angeles Review of Books

“The title of Maile Meloy's new novel is misleading: Do Not Become Alarmed sounds like a suspense story. Granted, I did read it in two nights; but, while I'm a unapologetic fan of thrillers, Meloy's novel is something else, something trickier to characterize. I'd call it a very smart work of literary fiction that exposes how very thin the layer of good luck is that keeps most of us from falling into the abyss…Meloy is such a deft writer that she keeps the adventure plot whizzing along even as she deepens our sense of the characters and the unfamiliar culture they have to navigate. You may (mistakenly) think that you don't want to enter the nightmare world of this novel, but Meloy makes you realize what a luxury it is to have that choice.”
—Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air, NPR

“I immediately wished I was in a book club. In my 40-plus years as a reader and 25 years in the book biz, I’ve never been in a book club, never really wanted to be in a book club, but Do Not Become Alarmed is rich discussion tinder in the guise of a thrilling beach read. I desperately wanted to discuss it, preferably over a glass of wine… [Meloy] effortlessly moves us between the parents’ and children’s storylines, creating non-stop action and surprising the reader with twists and turns…Meloy’s book leaves the reader considering many things, not the least of which is who we are."
—Allison K. Hill, LA Daily News

“Stories spiral out of stories in Meloy’s fiction, like fractals endlessly elaborating to fill all the available space. Her plots seem less like plots than webs, but the most wizardly thing about her novels is that none of this makes for an airless intellectual exercise; instead, Meloy’s books are effortlessly readable and sweetly gossipy…Do Not Become Alarmed glides along with a clarity that’s almost uncanny…[it] proves that you don’t need hackneyed thriller devices to generate powerful momentum and suspense… In place of the edge other novelists would bring to this material, readers of Do Not Become Alarmed get Meloy’s warmth and her even-tempered, protean imagination. Her view of human nature is almost Olympian in its refusal to take sides, in the consideration it affords to characters who would be mere bit players in a more conventional work. This novel is a bait and switch in the best possible sense. It promises readers easy-to-identify-with protagonists in a pair of mothers going through a parent’s worst nightmare. Then it presents them with so much more, a richer, broader palette of people to believe in and to understand.”
—Laura Miller, Slate

“[A] thrilling tale . . . ‘Page-turner’ would be an understatement.”
— Travel & Leisure, The Best Books to Read On Vacation This Summer

“[A] relentless new thriller...[Meloy has a] talent for crafting high-tension fiction that compels readers to turn the page...her most transfixing work yet.” 

Do Not Become Alarmed is not only ripe with tension, it’s also a terrific character study.”
— Miami Herald

“Enthralling and terrifying.” 
Town & Country

“A taut, nervy thriller . . . Meloy has a keenly intuitive ear for family dynamics, first-world privilege, and all the ways that human nature can adapt to the unthinkable.”
Entertainment Weekly

“Nothing pairs better with summer than a suspense that will keep you guessing (especially when it involves a cruise ship). The pulse-inducing unputdownable tale about the disappearance of four children on a family cruise, Do Not Become Alarmed is a powerful suspense that will leave readers asking themselves if family truly keeps us safe.” 

“[A] propulsive drama…Infusing literary fiction with criminality and terror in a mode similar to that of Ann Patchett and Hannah Tinti, Meloy compounds the suspense in this gripping and incisive tale by orchestrating a profoundly wrenching shift in perspective, and morality, as well-meaning tourists face the dark realities of a complex place they viewed merely as a playground. Meloy’s commanding, heart-revving, and thought-provoking novel has enormous power and appeal.” 
Booklist, STARRED review

“This is one of those can’t-stop-turning-the-pages novels, which quickly reveals itself to be something more than a page-turner…Meloy…writes with breathless tension yet lets her characters breathe; you believe these children and their desperate parents, and find yourself utterly entrenched in their fate.”
Seattle Times

"A masterful adventure which tumbles forward with such rapid, suspenseful momentum that the novel becomes truly difficult to put down. In lesser hands, the pace and structure of Do Not Become Alarmed might have become unwieldy. Instead, we barrel along, caught up in the story’s every bend and twist.”
—Emily Choate, Chapter 16

“Meloy delves deeply and expertly into these personalities, plumbing the repercussions of various events in their worlds. In her new novel, she takes that approach and revs it up to top speed . . . Meloy skillfully analyzes each person’s reaction to his or her situation in remarkably efficient prose that never scrimps on detail or emotional impact. It’s a grim story told with a light touch, and it’s completely addictive.”
— BookPage

 “The book is so realistic and gripping that you are lucky it isn’t a real story about you and your family.”
Catapult, Best Books for this Summer

 “Ominous, addictive…. In crafting this high-stakes page-turner, Meloy excels as a master of suspense.”
Publishers Weekly, Best Summer Books

“What begins as a holiday escape becomes a riveting exploration of modern parenthood told from the perspectives of both the kids and the adults—who begin to turn on one another.”

“An action-packed novel with serious emotional depth, Do Not Be Alarmed demands to be finished in one sitting, so get your sunscreen ready. You won't be able to put this one down until the very end.”

“A story not just of guilt, blame, and the desperate struggle to retrieve the children but of race, privilege, and parenthood.”
Library Journal

“The plot unfolds with terrifying realism, made even more potent by Meloy’s sharp and economical character development…This writer can apparently do it all—New Yorker stories, children's books, award-winning literary novels, and now, a tautly plotted and culturally savvy emotional thriller. Do not start this book after dinner or you will almost certainly be up all night.”
— STARRED review, Kirkus

".... an incredibly gripping thriller, one of those books that you will stay up late to read and say: 'Oh, I’ll just read one more chapter, I’ll just read one more chapter.' It’s so delicious when you get one of those books and this is definitely one of them."
—Emma Straub for PBS Newshour

“Meloy’s writing is literary but also page-turnery (my highest compliment), and Do Not Become Alarmed, about a vacation gone awry, promises to be both.”
— Anton DiSclafani for Parnassus Musing

“This is the book that every reader longs for: smart and thrilling and impossible to put down. Read it once at breakneck speed to find out what happens next, and then read it slowly to marvel at the perfect prose and the masterwork of a plot. It is an alarmingly good novel.” 
— Ann Patchett, author of Commonwealth and Bel Canto

“Here is that perfect combination of a luminous writer and a big, page-turning story. This hugely suspenseful novel will speak to anyone who has ever felt responsible for keeping a loved one safe, whether it was a child, a partner, a parent, or a friend. Meloy's characters—the adults and the children—feel like real, living people I'll never forget”
— Helen Fielding, author of Bridget Jones’s Diary

"A smart, suspenseful page-turner."
W Magazine

“Riveting…Meloy’s well-crafted, suspenseful tale…is amplified by issues of class and race.”
Tampa Bay Times

"A fast-paced, engrossing read."