Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Spin by Lamar Giles

Wow, Scholastic went edgy. When I was a kid, I think the most controversial book I ever read from a Scholastic imprint was Louis Sachar's HOLES. I'm honestly psyched about this, because I've gone on rants before about how way too many young adults books try to over-simplify and over-sanitize their content to make it kid-friendly, when we live in a world that really isn't kid-friendly and kids are going to look for content they relate to.

In that sense, SPIN is the perfect book, because it has a story to tell and it doesn't try to censor anything or dumb anything down. SPIN is a young adult murder mystery. A young black deejay named Paris Secord (stage name: DJ ParSec) was found dead on her turntables by her ex-friends and ex-business partners, Fuze, her social media consultant, and Kya, her tech gal.

Fuze and Kya want to find out who killed DJ ParSec. Not just because she used to be their friend but because 1) they're suspects in the murder and they want to clear their names and their reputations and 2) ParSec had some super obsessed, super cray-cray fans called #DarkNation who will do anything to serve their leader. Anything. Eep.

The narrative style is pretty breezy. Kya and Fuze have alternating POVs, and sprinkled in are some of Paris's leading up to the night where she died. I never really knew who dunnit until the end and I thought the grand reveal was... well, mostly pretty good. I guess I've read too many twisted thrillers; I expect everything to be as disturbing as the inner-workings of my own mind, I guess!

One thing I loved about SPIN is the rep. This is not diversity for diversity's sake. It's an excellent murder mystery with diverse rep. It has a lot of great fabulous about Black Lives Matter and black culture and black stereotypes and what it means to be "black enough," but the characters' blackness is not the focus of the story. All of the characters are fully fleshed out and they're flawed, three-dimensional beings. I liked all three narratives, even if I didn't always like them as people.

Honestly, if you like mystery thrillers and you want to read a diverse book that sets the bar super high, SPIN is a great pick. I was given this book as a gift and I might not have read it because of that cutesy rainbow cover and the cheesy Goosebumps-esque blurb on the cover, but it's surprisingly dark and disturbing for a YA book - and I mean that in the best possible way. Reader beware, you're in for a rather frightful experience and what is also legally distinct from the Goosebumps catchphrase. ;)

3.5 to 4 out of 5 stars

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