Member Reviews

Amir Trudeau attends a birthday party for his step-dad brother Marcel, at the random request of his friend Chloe. At said party, some strange things begin happening and Chloe asks Amir to take her home. The next morning, she's found dead and Amir is accused of murdering her. Those who know him, know that Amir is innocent, and so a quest to find the real killer begins. But, no one is more diligent than Marcel.

As the search ensues, one secret scandal after another is revealed, including infidelity, racism, and classism. As I was reading, I had to keep reminding myself that the atrocious behavior of these characters is a learned behavior. These teenagers were only saying and doing things that they've overheard at home. I'm so glad someone thought enough to expose them, and the real killer before it went any further.

This book by @brownboywriting, is one of the best books that I've read so far this year. He boldly addresses social issues that many others may be afraid to. My favorite character is Marcel. Despite those differences, he was determined to clear his brother's name, while keeping a promise to his deceased grandmother. I'm curious to know what became of him and Quincy. My least favorite character would definitely go to Tiffany. You'll have to read the book to find out why. The many twists and turns, will have you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

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Picked up and read in ONE sitting!! The characters and their stories are interwoven so well that you are kept guessing. I didn’t think it was possible to love a book as much as I did The Black Queen - but WOW!!

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Holy moly!! I am so happy I was able to read this. Jumata Emil is the male Tiffany Jackson!! I should have known that after reading The Black Queen. It was amazing to see how Amir and Marcel grow closer as brothers and how they reveal the huge twist in the middle of the novel. I am looking forward to Jumata speaking at the North Texas Teen Book Festival next week.

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Jumata Emil does it again with Wander in the Dark. I loved The Black Queen and was so happy to receive the ARC of his latest novel and it did not disappoint! Amir and Marcel are two brothers that have a strained relationship but must get over their issues when the most popular girl at school is murdered and Amir is to blame. Can Marcel use his own popularity to help his brother and solve the murder or will Amir spend his lifetime in jail? Jumata Emil writes his thrillers with such timely and relevant topics that this is another novel that I will be recommending to my students for years to come!

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Sibling loyalty!

17yo Amir is accused of murder and his 16yo brother Marcel is determined to prove Amir’s innocence. One of their classmates was murdered in her home and Amir has been placed under house arrest under suspicious circumstances. Living in New Orleans, Amir and Marcel both attend a private school because their family wants the best for them. Being Black, they’re a minority in their mostly white, rich high school. When the girl is murdered, the white community immediately blames Amir but when horrible secrets are revealed, the tables turn.

Likes/dislikes: The bad grammar representing the local community in the book is annoying but necessary to setting the story. I like the strong loyalty between the brothers, Marcel and Amir. The mystery was enjoyable to read.
Mature Content: PG-13 for drugs, underage drinking, talk of hooking up.
Language: R for 154 swears and 64 f-words.
Violence: PG-13 for bloody death and violence.
Ethnicity: White and Black community.

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Mardi Gras and rich kids. What could go wrong


2 step brothers have to solve who murdered a white girl otherwise the older brother will go to jail.
The father divorced the first wife and son and married someone else and later had another kid
I love how the brother longing for each other puts everything aside for family.
The family who neglected his first family. Shows up. And goes beyond what I assumed.

I need this on my shelf 4 1/2

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When I say this book was A-W-E-S-O-M-E I mean it‼️ Jumata did such an amazing job and left no crumbs cause I could NOT put this book down literally finished it within a day. If you’ve read his previous work then you understand where I’m coming from with this. The first chapter really set the tone of the book and already had me on edge.

It follows two brothers Amir and Marcel as they come together to solve the murder of a popular girl in school Chloe. What makes matters worse Amir was last seen fleeing the scene of her death and Chloe just so happened to be Marcel’s best friend.

What kept me engaged:

* Two brothers with the same father and different mothers never really got along but this situation forces them to work together and eventually reconcile their differences.
* Marcel’s mother angered me so bad with how she treated Amir and spoke down on him. His father sat back in silence when she did 😒 but this murder changed all of their relationships with each other.
* Amir’s mom and her animosity towards his dad is what really ruin their father- son relationship.
* Knowing Amir didn’t kill Chloe but getting to the bottom of who did was such a wild ride.
* The shocking secrets that were uncovered especially the game‼️

Overall, y’all know I recommend this book right? The author truly delivered the perfect YA whodunnit murder mystery/thriller combined with a little family drama. If you have the book read it if you don’t buy it. Special thanks to the author & @delacortepress for my gifted copy‼️

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This is a part of a growing trend of stories about elite schools and characters uncovering blatant racism. The characters are strong but the plot has some believability issues. The way events unfold is a bit haphazard.

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This book was very heartfelt. I feel like more could've been done for the ending but it is the story of two brothers, not the actual crime. The characters were well developed, Not much to say other than one family breaks and the other one comes together. Also I still dislike the stepmother. Thank you NetGalley for the advance copy.

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Really enjoyed this dark academia story. Makes you second guess who your friends are!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

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I was a big fan of Jumata Emill's debut novel THE BLACK QUEEN, and I enjoyed this one even more! The writing is sharp and pulls the reader in immediately. Emill balances crafting a fast-paced and intriguing mystery story while also providing some very biting and relevant social commentary. The book forces the reader to think about some hard questions and confront how they might feel or act if put in a similar situation. The character work is also excellent here, Amir and Marcel feel like they are truly teenagers, demonstrating moments of great maturity and strength along with moments of juvenile behavior, as one would expect of kids their age. The growth in their relationship throughout the book was great and felt like the characters experienced a lot of personal growth that led to their improved relationship.

Overall it is a fast-paced and very fun, twisty thriller! There is obviously the main mystery along with a few different sub-plots that all weave together very nicely and lead to a satisfying payoff at the end.

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A pulse-pounding YA thriller from my new favorite voice in the genre @brownboywriting
Pretty, white and popular Chloe Danvers invites Amir to his estranged half-brother, Marcel’s, birthday party. That’s the only reason he attends because he hates Marcel’s family for taking the life that should have been his and his mom’s. Why did Chloe invite him? That’s the question that leads Amir to her house after they leave the party, but when he wakes up the next morning, Chloe is dead—stabbed while he was passed out in the couch downstairs. Now all of New Orleans thinks Amir is a killer, but Marcel doesn’t believe that for a second and helps clear his half-brother’s name, but when they discover the truth, will it be easy to prove Amir’s innocence?
I loved The Black Queen by Emill so I had to read this one asap and was not disappointed! If you’ve read Accountable by Slater this would pair very well with it for a fictional version of that nonfiction book I highly recommend this for your upper high school readers.

CW: homophobia, racism, racial slurs, death, blood, murder, violence, slavery references, classism, infidelity, familial trauma, drugs, alcohol

3.75 very coarse language with texts and instagram posts referenced in the book. Definitely understand why it was included, but this should be labeled YA+ IMO

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I stayed up past my bedtime to finish this. On a school night, no less!
@brownboywriting wrote one of my favorite books of this year, “The Black Queen”, so when I saw his newest book on #NetGalley I have never clicked a request button so fast.
There is so much to this book. The relationships between Amir and Marcel, the relationships between the boys and their mothers, their father, their classmates, their friends — but none of it feels like too much, and the relationships add to the story and the mystery.
And the story! Twists! Turns!! There was a point where I sat with my jaw dropped for a full minute before I could continue.
Preorder this book! NOW.

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I was a huge fan of Jumata Emil's first book, and was so excited to try this one. I couldn't stop reading this gripping story of estranged half-brothers forced to trust one another when one of them is accused of the murder of a classmate.

This book has a great mystery, a realistic and interesting family dynamic, commentary on social issues (like the experience of men of color in the criminal justice system) and an atmospheric New Orleans setting.

Highly recommend this one to fans of mystery novels, YA or adult.

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Review: [Wander in the Dark prominently features discussion of systemic racism in the U.S. justice system and racist cyberbullying in a private high school, in addition to some brief but intense descriptions of violence, an infidelity subplot, and past animal death.]

A surefire sign that a mystery or thriller is hitting the way it should for me as a reader is just how worried I get about the characters. And let me tell you, I spent so much of Wander in the Dark extremely worried about Amir, Marcel, and their family. Author Jumata Emill really knows how to craft a fast-paced mystery, and I raced through the book because I desperately wanted to know what would happen next.

Amir and Marcel are great character foils for one another, and their contrasting narrative voices served to strengthen their respective plots and highlight the similarities they developed. Race and class/privilege shaped both Amir and Marcel, often in noticeably different ways, and their experiences influenced how they saw, related to, and interacted with the world. It made the gradual development of their sibling relationship immensely satisfying to read, especially the times when they united together against other people and in support of each other. I also appreciated how complicated their views of each other and the rest of their family were, especially how neither “side” was blameless in how the conflicts had played out.

Jumata Emill did a fantastic job of layering subplots into Wander in the Dark’s murder mystery. The different investigative paths Amir and Marcel went down as they tried to prove Amir’s innocence developed nicely and tied in to one another in unexpected ways. I never felt like the story was lagging or that a potential red herring was dragging out for too long, and while I had some nitpicks about how particular things played out, none of them were significant enough to detract from my enjoyment of the story. This is the kind of mystery that I would enjoy reading again specifically to spot more of the clues/foreshadowing the second time around.

Recommendation: Get it now if you enjoy mysteries. Jumata Emill’s Wander in the Dark is a fast-paced murder mystery that tackles complex families, systemic racism, intracommunity politics, corruption, and so much more. Amir and Marcel are fantastic narrators, and watching the two of them figure out how to be brothers while trying to clear Amir’s name is a great way to spend a weekend.

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B*TCH THAT ENDING HAS ME SOBBING WITH GOOSEBUMPS ALL OVER MY BODY, OMG. This was such a brutal story. I loved The Black Queen, but damn, this story blew that one out of the water. I truly hate that Chloe was murdered trying to do the right thing. I hate that she was murdered because someone thought she was doing something she wasn't. But man, I loved that ending.

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A brothers determination to clear his brothers name after the murder of their friend uncovers a racist game involving fellow classmates.

The Trudeau brothers live contrasting lives. Amir and Marcel Trudeau are step-brothers who are not close. Marcel's 16th birthday is attended by many of their fellow classmates. Chloe Danvers encourages Amir to attend his party, not knowing Amir's life is about to change drastically. Chloe's lifeless body is found by Amir after she asks him to stay with her for fear of something bad happening. Amir becomes the prime suspect of her murder after she is found at her home. Marcel's determination to clear his brothers name uncovers a slave game and its ties to a prominent family.

I loved the dynamics of the Trudeau brothers created by Jumata Emill. Step families can be challenging as both brothers discover. Marcel's detective skills were fun to read as he is determined to clear his brothers name. This is a heart warming story of a brotherly bond formed out of heartache and death of a friend. I highly recommend this book.

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This was a really solid and twisty YA thriller! The teen boy voice felt a little cringy to me at first (stuff like “Chloe’s got a tight li’l body”), but it’s engaging, pulls you in, and deals with some important things that I don’t see talked about a ton in YA (eg what fetishization is like for a black gay boy).

The characters are archetypes and there are tropes — in much the same way that you’d get in a Karen McManus book, for example. But I found myself really caring what happened to the POV characters. Both voices are instantly relatable and unique, and it does a great job grappling with the emotional consequences/experience of being two Black boys dealing with the criminal justice system. (At times the points read a bit more in the author’s voice than the boys, but they’re still really affecting.) It made me cry, and I loved the brother love.

There are still soo few YA mystery/thrillers by Black authors with Black MCs; this one is def a worthy addition.

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Thank you NetGalley for giving me the chance to read this book ahead of time in exchange for a review. It didn't disappoint! Must read!!

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We enjoyed Emill’s first novel, The Black Queen, when we were compiling our list of books about high school dances, so we were excited to learn he had a new one coming out, and wow . . . we liked this one even better.

Amir and Marcel are half brothers, and while Marcel longs for a relationship, Amir has experienced a lifetime of feeling rejected by his father and his father’s “new” family, so he’d be fine never interacting with Marcel again. But when a text from Chloe, a hot girl from school, gets Amir to show up at Marcel’s birthday party, it sets in motion a series of events that rock both brothers’ worlds.

Amir takes Chloe home from the party and keeps her company before falling asleep on her couch, but when he wakes up at 2:18 a.m., he discovers Chloe stabbed to death in her bed upstairs, and as a young Black man, he knows he cannot be found on the scene of a wealthy white girl’s murder, so he runs. Unfortunately, in his panic, he runs out the front door, only to be caught on a neighbor’s security camera, and it’s not long before he is arrested and facing the death penalty for a crime he didn’t commit. Marcel is horrified and determined to figure out who actually killed Chloe, freeing his brother and repairing the enormous rift in their family.

There’s so much we want to say about this book, and we can’t because any more details about the brothers’ investigation would be a major spoiler alert in a fantastic mystery that kept us turning pages rapidly. But what made us really appreciate Emill’s novel were the complex issues beneath the suspenseful twists and turns. More than anything else, this is a book about a broken family that comes together and begins to heal, and the relationships between the family members, but especially Marcel and Amir, gave the novel heart and brought tears to our eyes. The novel also explores important issues of race, class, colorism, politics, and privilege: the boys attend a private school with a predominantly white student body, and the tensions between race and class are at the center of events.

Do be aware that there is a lot of profanity in the novel, including several particularly vile, racist “SnapMessages” exchanges that play a central role in the plot but did make our jaws drop. We think many students will enjoy the fast-paced novel and that will benefit from considering the issues Emill explores, but this is one we’d probably place on our shelves rather than formally recommend on First Chapter Friday for any group other than juniors or seniors.

Thank you NetGalley, Random House Children’s, and Delacorte Press for sending this book for review consideration. All opinions are our own.

Review will be posted on on February 26.

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