Monday, March 20, 2023

Jumata Emill: The Black Queen

In his debut novel Jumata Emill shows that Love can be Murder:

Nova Albright is about to be the very first Black Homecoming Queen for her school, but not if Tinsley McArthur has anything to say about it, she will do anything to make sure that she can continue her family's legacy of Homecoming Queens. When Nova's body is found the night of her coronation, Tinsley is the prime suspect for the murder. No one is more convinced that Tinsley is the murderer than Nova's best friend Duchess. Duchess will do anything to prove that Tinsley was the murderer while Tinsley will do anything to prove that she is innocent. Two girls wanting the same thing for entirely different reasons

I was excited to pick up this book by Emill, not only because it is his debut novel (I Love reading debuts), but I honestly do not read enough books by BIPOC authors. This book was good, and at time it was just okay, this is mainly in the first half of the book as it is rather slow and much of the chapters are dedicated to duchess just being mad and Tinsley going through oh poor me/why me each chapter. 

I think there were times where Emill was trying to do too much with the story, the characters, the social/racial injustice that the whole book felt muddled at times. It was almost Emill did not know what he wanted to focus on in the book and while yes, all these aspects played a part in the book there were just too many times where one aspect or the other took too much center stage away from the main plot; The Murder of Nova.

I was surprised that Tinsley was the main character of this book even though her and Duchess have approximately the same amount of chapters, Tinsley felt more developed and defined than Duchess did. It was Tinsley who made some of the biggest connections about the murder in the book where Duchess is mainly only portrayed as the angry Black girl. I also felt more for Duchess than Tinsley so I wanted her to be the focus. Many of Tinsley's problems were center around being a rich white girl while Duchess had two sides going after her as her father is also the detective on the case and seen as doing nothing, even though he is also black.

This book suffered from the troupe of many teen mystery books, of the teens finding this key piece of evidence (more than once) and they refrain from giving it to the police until forced to. It also portrays the police as extremely dumb and unable to investigate anything and only these teens will be able to solve the problem. I think this was enhanced with Duchess being the daughter of the detective in charge of investigation and having access to files that he brought home (which I don’t actually think police would do in a case like this).

I did enjoy the overall story of this book and the second half is much more interesting than the first and I am glad I pushed through till the end. I think that he did a good job of giving a few possibilities as to who really could have murdered Nova (but I was able to guess before the end). I would read another book by Emill as I think he has a talent for writing, just needs to try not to do too much in one book.


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