Release Date: January 29, 2019
Sixteen-year-old Paris Secord’s (aka DJ ParSec) career–and life–has come to an untimely end, and the local music scene is reeling. No one is feeling the pain more than her shunned pre-fame best friend, Kya, and Paris’s chief groupie, Fuse. But suspicion trumps grief, and since each suspects the other of Paris’s murder, they’re locked in a high-stakes game of public accusations and sabotage.
Everyone in the ParSec Nation (DJ ParSec’s local media base)–including the killer–is content to watch it play out, until Kya and Fuse discover a secret: Paris was on the verge of major deal that would’ve catapulted her to superstar status on a national level, leaving her old life (and old friends) behind. With the new info comes new motives. New suspects. And a fandom that shows its deadly side. As Kya and Fuse come closer to the twisted truth, the killer’s no longer amused. But murdering Paris was simple enough, so getting rid of her nobody-friends shouldn’t be an issue…
SEXUALITY: (presumed) heterosexual
ROMANTIC ORIENTATION: (presumed) heteroromantic
TROPES: enemies to friends
TAGS: young adult, mystery, thriller, Black characters, Black author, #ownvoices, contemporary, suspense, audiobook
WARNINGS: death, stan culture, cheating
I got this as an audiobook simply because of the narrators. I absolutely love what Bahni Turnip can *do* with a story, and I got grabbed by the performances of Shawana Carter and Sisi Aisha so, so fast. I only realized after grabbing it that this was also a YA whodunit about two Black girls who absolutely hate each other, trying to find out who killed their best friend, up and coming DJ ParSec. And I’ve been meaning to dive into YA mystery anyway after finishing God Smites and Other Muslim Girl Problems, and here we are.
I do think part of what made this book work for me were the performances of the narrators. They made me feel like I was *with* these characters through all the highs and lows and I loved every second of it.
The story itself was something else too though. For one, the premise was something I have never read before, and Lamar Giles delivered a story, right to my table, I couldn’t have seen coming if I tried with a crystal ball and two glasses. There is a certain amount of suspension of disbelief required for some of the mystery aspects, but that is really always the case when you pick up crime fiction. I did love how the two girls went about trying to find out what really happened, all the while actually getting to know each other and going from scorn enemies to something else entirely. The more they got involved into each other’s lives and struggles, the stronger their bond and friendship became and I loved seeing it.
What felt especially real and raw and incredibly realistic was the depiction of grief and how much more complex it all gets when you are grieving for someone you once loved in some way and weren’t close to anymore when they died. There were so many more layers surrounding the topic, especially public vs. private grief. Other topics were intrinsically linked with the death of Paris, aka DJ ParSec. How her white producer tried to exploit her and kept on doing it even after she was murdered. How others tried to exploit her death for their own gains as well. And in that regard Giles also throws a very sharp and pointed look at fandom and stan culture. A few years ago I would have called what he described and explored in this book as overly dramatic, as ridiculous and over the top. After a few years on social media, I think he painted a good picture of what stan culture *can* be. And what it can become in extremes.
Talking about extremes, I loved the flashbacks of Paris and her life leading up to her death. It was intense and heart-breaking to see the joyous moments alongside the deep lows that come with getting famous so young, not having the support network you need or want, feeling alone in a sea of sharks. I just really felt for her while simultaneously wanting to protect her and Shakespeare her sometimes. It was an incredibly emotional journey and I loved it.
Overall, I was impressed and intrigued by how much Giles put into this book without taking anything away from the main plot or clogging up the mystery. It was engaging and thrilling from beginning to end, with some real emotional punches thrown in every couple of pages. I really loved it and I can’t wait to read more books written by this author.
Lamar Giles is a well published author and a founding member of We Need Diverse Books. Lamar has two novels forthcoming in 2019: his debut middle grade fantasy THE LAST LAST-DAY-OF-SUMMER (Versify / HMH) and his fourth YA thriller SPIN (Scholastic).
Lamar Giles is a two-time Edgar Award finalist in the YA category, for his debut YA thriller FAKE ID (HarperCollins, 2014), and his second YA thriller, ENDANGERED (HarperCollins, 2015). His third YA thriller, OVERTURNED (Scholastic, 2017) received this glowing New York Times review, and was named a Kirkus Best Book of 2017. You can see the book trailer for OVERTURNED here. FAKE ID has been optioned by Sony Pictures (not yet announced).
Lamar is a contributor to the YA anthology THREE SIDES OF A HEART (HarperCollins, 2017), the editor of the forthcoming We Need Diverse Books YA short story anthology FRESH INK (Random House 2018), a contributor to the forthcoming YA anthology BLACK ENOUGH: STORIES OF BEING YOUNG & BLACK IN AMERICA (HarperCollins / Balzer & Bray 2019), and a contributor to a forthcoming We Need Diverse Books middle grade anthology. He has published several short stories for adults. You can see tv interviews with Lamar here, here and here, and a truly fun “Fun Facts” short interview, created by HarperCollins.