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“I did not kill Paris Secord. Had absolutely nothing to do with her death. Could all her so-called friends say the same?” Fuse. —Spin
by Lamar Giles
AR Test, Diverse Characters, Strong Female Character
Spin centers around the murder of Paris Secord, an up-and-coming musician whose stage name was DJ ParSec. After finding fame and fortune on SoundCloud and YouTube, Paris begins to clash with some of the friends who helped her on her way to the top. When Paris is found dead on top of her signature turntables, her childhood best friend Kya and social media guru Fatimah (“Fuse”) find themselves suspects in the investigation. To clear their name, they set out to solve the murder themselves.
Kya and Fuse are the two main narrators of the story, which switches between their first-person perspectives. As Kya and Fuse delve deeper into Paris’s past, they must come to terms with the bitter fallings-out they had with Paris before she died. While Kya and Fuse start as enemies, they soon bond in their shared efforts to bring justice to Paris. As they investigate, the two encounter a conspiracy involving crazed fans who will do anything to prove themselves loyal members of the ParSec Nation. As Kya and Fuse unravel the mystery, some chapters flash back to Paris’s perspective, which reveals crucial details and reveals how she coped with fame.
Spin is a fast-paced mystery that introduces readers to music industry concepts, such as ill-intentioned managers and nosy journalists. The story honestly portrays contemporary music culture and rabid fandom. While some of this portrayal comes across as well-researched and genuine, other parts feel forced. Readers might find the narrative’s dialects and buzzwords unnatural. For example, the book often shows tweets from rabid fans, but the style and syntax of the tweets is disingenuous and awkward.
Spin succeeds in its earnest portrayal of class tensions. Kya, Fuse, and Paris all must deal with their families’ financial situations and how their circumstances have shaped their worldviews. For example, Paris set up a bank account for her newfound wealth while trying to keep her grandmother from being evicted. “I learned quickly,” Paris says, “that black-folks rich and rich-rich aren’t the same thing.”
Spin delivers no central lesson about racial injustice. However, Spin is a diverse story set across a backdrop that shows readers how black music and culture evolve. From seeing Paris in the studio to seeing her fans’ blogs and bedrooms, readers will get a close-up look of how people of color influence and lead in the music scene. Readers will also see the anxieties Kya and Fuse experience while dealing with the police, because they are wary that, as people of color, they may become victims of police brutality.
Overall, Spin feels fairly one-dimensional, and readers may guess the ending before the murderer is revealed. The story is strongest in its theme of friendship, and readers will enjoy seeing Kya and Fuse bond as they begin to heal from Paris’s death. Equally important is the way art and culture bring people together, even as fame pushes artists to their breaking points.
- An internet troll asks Fuse, “If I hooked jumper cables to a car battery and clamped them onto your fingers and toes…would you blow?”
- In a flashback, Paris narrates how she meets her boyfriend Shameik, who was “a CUTE-cute boy from my grade. Suddenly him invading my personal space wasn’t such a big deal.”
- Paris’s boyfriend Shameik “kissed my neck again. It tickled, but I didn’t giggle because I liked acting as if those kisses didn’t affect me so he’d keep trying.”
- Shameik and Fuse kissed once. It isn’t a big deal to Paris and is never described in detail, but the kiss keeps being brought up.
- A character says, “If you made me leave so [Shameik and Fuse] could make out, I’m going to need some gas money.”
- On the night of Paris’s murder, Kya punches Fuse in the face. “Her punch connected with my left eye. A solid POP! A white explosion of pain that washed out the room for a hot second.”
- While questioning Fuse about the murder, a police officer “holds his hands at chest level, fingers curled, ready to grab” Fuse. Another cop grabs Fuse “so all I could do was kick, then he lifted me so those kicks only hit air.”
- Fuse remembers finding Paris’s body. “That sheet of sticky, dark blood over half of ParSec’s [Paris’s] face. How she’d been a rag doll, arms spread wide, across the turntables…Her eyes bulged, the right one deep red where white should be, like something in that side of her head had exploded.”
- A ParSec fan at school shoves Kya into a locker.
- Fuse says, “Beyoncé could start the Purge with a tweet if she wanted.” (The Purge is a film about an anarchic period of unhinged murder and violence; the saying “The Purge” has become shorthand for such an event.)
- Dedicated ParSec fans kidnap Kya and Fuse, zip-tie their hands and ankles together, and put them in the back of a van. Kya’s “turned—too late—to see two [people] rushing at me, duct tape stretched and ready. The first strip pressed hard against my lips while one of my assailants wrapped me [Kya] in a bear hug, pinning my arms.” During the attack a person in a mask “slammed a palm into my [Fuse’s] chest, pushing me back against the van wall.”
- While they are captive in the van, Fuse is “angry enough to tear a chunk out of Kya” and aims “a two-heeled kick towards Kya’s chest.”
- Someone tells Kya, “You should calm down. You’ll bust a blood vessel.” Kya responds, “I’ll bust your blood vessels!”
- Devoted ParSec fans threaten to cut off Kya’s pinkie with garden shears. Later, they claim they were joking.
- When they find the murderer, a group of ParSec fans deliver him to the police, “tied, gagged, and slightly bruised.” The fans have cut off his pinkie. The murderer’s hand “was heavily bandaged. A splotch of red seeped through.”
- Fuse threatens Paris’s manager with a stun gun, but never uses it.
- Fuse’s mother had the stun gun because “these days she preferred pepper spray and the spiked keychain her self-defense teacher gave her.”
- When confronting a suspect, Fuse expects Kya “to kick the door in, snap this woman’s neck like Jessica Jones, and tear [her] out the house through a load-bearing wall.”
- Paris’s narration reveals that her murder was an accident. She recounts, “His forearm grazed my chin, and I bit into his denim jacket sleeve. There were layers between my teeth and his flesh…I bit down with all the force in my jaws. He howled, tried to fling me off. He succeeded… The stand my laptop sat on was made of heavy aluminum… the corners were sharp… My temple connected with all the force generated from me and [the murderer]’s combined pain. A solid thunk, then my legs wouldn’t work.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- A popular rapper smells “strongly of weed and cologne.”
- Paris’s boyfriend, Shameik, finds beer bottles in Paris’s apartment and says, “Who was over here drinking beer?” Paris admits to sharing beers with a popular rap group. Shameik says, “My girlfriend’s alone with some drunk old guys, and I’m not supposed to be concerned?”
- “God,” “crap,” and “Jesus” are used infrequently.
- “God!” and “Jesus!” are used as an exclamation occasionally.
- Fuse says that ParSec fans view Paris as “their god.”
- Paris says that Kanye West is “one of the gods.”
- Paris’s grandmother sometimes says, “Lord.”
- Paris says, “I promptly lost my ish [sic]” when she gets 8,000 plays on her SoundCloud.
- Paris’s manager calls Fuse a “strumpet.”
- Fuse says, “Screw it,” once.
- Kya’s mother thanks God for Kya’s safety.
- Kya attends Paris’s funeral and observes that “The Fifth Street Baptist Church choir should’ve been here. That was [Paris’s grandmother]’s church…where Paris got dragged every Sunday before she could call shots. There was no ‘Amazing Grace,’ no ‘His Eye Is on the Sparrow.’”
- A music journalist finding a lead looks “like someone told him Christmas Eve got rescheduled to today.”
by Caroline Galdi