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The #TFBookClub reads “Do Not Become Alarmed” by Maile Meloy, thriller set in CENTRAL AMERICA

6th July 2017

Thank you for joining us as we read “Do Not Become Alarmed” by Maile Meloy, set in Central America. We hope you enjoy this gripping thriller, which has just been published. We will be talking through July and into August 2017, so if you are reading it, please come and join the dialogue!

thriller set in central america

The #TFBookClub is your book club – we are here to help you discover new titles that will transport you to interesting locations via top literature for some exceptional #literarywanderlust! (and we will join the conversation too).

We will also be having a chat to Silver Travel Advisor, sharing blogs from around the region to give you a bit of flavour for the countries in and around Central America (if you read the book book closely, you will be able spot the country in which the book is in all likelihood set!)

So, lots to look forward to as we read this great story together.

As you read, please come and chat and share your thoughts in several ways:

  • Here on our dedicated blogpost, leave your thoughts in the Comments section below
  • On FACEBOOK where we have pinned this dedicated #TFBookClub post to the top of the page
  • On TWITTER using the #TFBookClub
  • On INSTAGRAM using #TFBookClub
  • On PINTEREST following this link (collaborative board)
  • And once you’ve turned the final page, we’d love it if you could write your own review, which you can do on tripfiction.com using the Add A Review tab. Help us to build the #TFBookClub and the TripFiction website!


Thank you to Elke at Penguin UK for providing copies of the book for the #TFBookClub and don’t hesitate to tag using  @PenguinUKBooks and @mailemeloy

And finally come and join team TripFiction on Social Media:

Twitter (@TripFiction), Facebook (@TripFiction.Literarywanderlust), YouTube (TripFiction #Literarywanderlust), Instagram (@TripFiction) and Pinterest (@TripFiction)

Tina and Andrew for the TripFiction team

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  1. User: Angela L Paull

    Posted on: 27/07/2017 at 1:50 pm

    So I’ve now finished this one and, as previously stated, I struggled to start with and found the book quite hard going at the beginning.
    I think this is possibly because the characters seemed quite two dimensional and really not very sympathetic. A bunch of privileged Americans in what felt like quite contrived circumstances.
    Given the experiences that the children went through, I was surprised we didn’t learn more about the Argentinian family/parents.
    All in all I just felt that the book was a bit flat and could have explored the characters much more. The storyline almost felt rushed and whilst I enjoyed that it was explored from the different perspectives of all the characters I felt at the same time that not enough time was given to any given strand.
    I never particularly felt that the children were in grave danger and, given the storyline, there could (and should) have been a great feeling of tension throughout the read.
    Not a bad book but likewise I can’t say that I would particularly recommend it.


  2. Finished, and very enjoyable with the reservations in my previous comment. I thought the author dealt very well with the issues that the families would have to face on ‘reentering’ their old lives.On balance, I’d recommend this to friends.


  3. I had the evening to myself last night so settled down to carry on with this.

    It began well – affluent, privileged American families set off on a luxury Christmas cruise that promises to take them way out of their comfort zones.

    Initially, however, I found the problem was that it was difficult to get involved with the characters, with the result that I didn’t much care what happened to them. The author gave us a lot of information and backstory and the writing seemed flat. Breathing life into characters, especially when there are as many of them as there are here, is a real challenge. Perhaps more show and less tell would have helped, or even just giving away less at the outset and feeding backstories in gradually when the crisis that drives the story has taken place. As it was, for the first quarter of the book, I was in two minds whether to continue.

    I’m glad I did however as it gets much pacier and more involving after that. I think the scenes featuring the children are the best so far.

    The parents are less sympathetic. I’m not totally convinced by Nora and her fling with Pedro, the guide. I don’t think there has been any previous indication that she is unhappy with her handsome husband. Is she really so shallow?

    Also, to me, the book has a flaw common to most novels that have this kind of story. Namely, would one policewoman be assigned the case to deal with virtually alone? Surely by now most of the country’s police force and at least half of the Californian one would be crawling all over it.

    What happens to the children is not exactly good publicity for the country, which we seem to be agreed is Costa Rica, and presumably that’s why Penguin are billing the location as a generic Central American country.

    Not much more to read now so I hope to finish later today.


  4. User: Charl

    Posted on: 24/07/2017 at 1:51 pm

    I’ve just finished reading the book and I really enjoyed it! I found it very gripping and read it very quickly. I did, however, find the characters quite frustrating. It took me a long time to realise who was who and which child was which. I think more character development would have been good. Enjoyed the plot though!



    • User: Charl

      Posted on: 24/07/2017 at 6:11 pm

      Hi Andrew,

      Agree that the novel itself is the best bit! I definitely found it a rewarding and gripping read (I’ve already passed it on to a couple of friends) and I was certainly transported to Central America. Think I may have to disagree with you about the characterisation of the children though (sorry!). I’m very much a reader that reads for the characters and their development and I just didn’t get that from this book. That didn’t stop me enjoying it though!!


    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 24/07/2017 at 3:19 pm

      Glad you enjoyed “Do Not Become Alarmed”, Charl.

      The plot certainly gains momentum, doesn’t it, and I agree that’s where the author’s strength seems to lie in this novel.

      I think some of the characterisation of the children was decent, but agree the parents were fairly one-dimensional.

      Overall though, hopefully you found it a reasonably rewarding read, and that the writing at least brought the exotic Central American locale to life.

      Andrew for TF


  5. I’ve just started this but am only one chapter in. It looks promising so far and I hope to get further into the story tonight.


    1 Comment

    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 24/07/2017 at 3:14 pm

      Good luck making progress with the book tonight. The plot certainly picks up momentum once they all disembark from the ship….even if not much goes according to plan!

      Happy reading, and look forward to hearing how you get on.

      Andrew for TF


  6. User: Angela Paull

    Posted on: 21/07/2017 at 9:59 pm

    I’ve started this but am struggling with it at the moment. Not sure why but it’s simply not gripped me yet. That said, I’ve only just got to the point where they realise the children are missing so I daresay it’s about to become more interesting!


    1 Comment

    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 24/07/2017 at 3:10 pm

      Hang in there if you can, Angela!

      The plot develops well once they all leave the ship, and there are some interesting observations by the author on how the children deal with adversity, compared with the parents.

      Stick with it, Angela…..

      Andrew for TF


  7. User: Jane Willis

    Posted on: 15/07/2017 at 8:30 am

    I have just finished reading this book and found it genuinely un-put-down-able.
    As others have mentioned, it was frustrating not knowing which country they were in, but I can understand the author’s reluctance to specify a country, and really as she refers to “the Switzerland of Central America” and the next country to the north being Nicaragua, it’s pretty clearly identifiable anyway!
    That apart, I found it a very gripping story and found myself really caring about what was happening to all the children. I did feel at the end a few questions were left unanswered – without giving away spoilers it’s hard to specify, but there are several characters whose eventual fate I would have liked to learn more about.
    I know it was written from the POV of the American families, but I would also have liked to see more about the Argentinians too, they seemed to be rather sidelined for most of the book.
    Despite my few small criticisms, I loved the book and found it a gripping read, and with my daughter’s in-laws living in the region and the fact that I am diabetic so was very drawn to Sebastian’s role in the story, it felt like a very relevant book for me to be reading.


  8. User: Janine Phillips

    Posted on: 11/07/2017 at 12:13 pm

    Thank you for my copy. I have just read the book, although I did enjoy reading it, I felt that it was missing something. I kept waiting for a twist in the story…….. and it never came.


    1 Comment

    • User: Emily

      Posted on: 16/07/2017 at 2:23 pm

      I agree. The book has an interesting plot but it definitely lacks something. For me, I think the characters were just too shallow and undeveloped.


  9. User: Emily

    Posted on: 08/07/2017 at 9:31 pm

    Thanks for the replies. I’m in the process of reading a book set in every country of the world, but I have figured out now which country I can log this under. I will continue reading this tomorrow as I get on a cruise with three stops in Central America. Yikes!


    1 Comment

    • User: tripfiction

      Posted on: 09/07/2017 at 9:07 am

      @Emily – check out “Reading The World” by Ann Morgan – she lists a good selection of books set around the world….


  10. User: JustRetiring

    Posted on: 08/07/2017 at 5:57 pm

    Really looking forward to reading this book with other #TFBookClub members.

    Do Not Become Alarmed is set “somewhere in Central America”. I was lucky to go to Costa Rica last year, my first visit to that exotic part of the world.

    It has 5% of the world’s biodiversity in just over 0.1% of its landmass. Crocodiles are included in the 5%, and I believe they may appear in the book too….but Do Not Become Alarmed.

    Andrew for TripFiction


  11. User: Emily Goode

    Posted on: 08/07/2017 at 5:53 pm

    I started reading Do Not Become Alarmed and I’m not sure what country they are in when they go ashore. Does anyone know?



    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 08/07/2017 at 9:15 pm

      Hello Emily

      The plot develops in generic Central America, once all the families leave the cruise ship with their various plans.

      And I think the author and publisher intentionally avoid spelling out which country, in view of what subsequently happens.

      No spoilers here, but some of the incidents are probably not ideal for promoting tourism, hence the geographic ambiguity.

      Enjoy the book….wherever the author had in mind.

      Andrew for TripFiction


    • User: tripfiction

      Posted on: 08/07/2017 at 9:10 pm

      It is generically Central America but if you research the “Switzerland of Central America” – as cited in the novel part way through – you will probably be able to determine the country. But because it is a thriller with some grim happenings, the people behind the book didn’t want to identify the country per se! They felt it wasn’t great PR. I just feel it’s a fast moving story in an exotic setting, and bad things happen in every country…. hope that helps! Thanks for chatting. Tina