Happy Monday Everyone! I am so excited to be one of today’s tour stops for The Marvelous by Claire Kann, which is hosted by the amazing Xpresso Book Tours! Please be sure to see the other amazing bloggers participating by following the tour here!
Publication date: June 8th 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Young Adult
From the author of Let’s Talk About Love and If It Makes You Happy, this exuberant YA Novel follows six teens locked together in a mansion, contending for a life-changing cash prize in a competition run by a reclusive heiress.
Everyone thinks they know Jewel Van Hanen. Heiress turned actress turned social media darling who created the massively popular video-sharing app, Golden Rule.
After mysteriously disappearing for a year, Jewel makes her dramatic return with an announcement: she has chosen a few lucky Golden Rule users to spend an unforgettable weekend at her private estate. But once they arrive, Jewel ingeniously flips the script: the guests are now players in an elaborate estate-wide game. And she’s tailored every challenge and obstacle to test whether they have what it takes to win–at any cost.
Told from the perspective of three dazzling players–Nicole: the new queen of Golden Rule; Luna: Jewel’s biggest fan; and Stella: a brilliant outsider–this novel will charm its way into your heart and keep you guessing how it all ends because money isn’t the only thing at stake.
Trigger Warnings: Confinement, panic attacks, death of a parent, emotional abuse, manipulation, fatphobia, food insecurity, grief, gun violence, kidnapping
I swear, Claire Kann can do no wrong. I’ve read and loved her previous two books (Let’s Talk About Love and If It Makes You Happy), so when The Marvelous was first announced, I already knew that I just had to get my hands on this book! And spoiler alert, I loved this one too, so here we go!
Jewel Van Hanen, heiress and creator of the video sharing app Golden Rule, has been MIA for the last year. Now Jewel’s had returned with an exclusive offer: four users will be invited to Golden Weekend, an all expenses paid trip to her private estate. Little do the users know that this isn’t a lavish party weekend, instead Jewel has created a series of puzzles and obstacles that aren’t just mentally grueling. The guests quickly learn that the cash prize isn’t the only thing that they are fighting for.
I’m going to be real honest, for the majority of this book, I oscillated between a constant state of anger and confusion. I am a person who STRUGGLES with riddles and wordplay thanks to the way that I process things, so the majority of this book made zero sense. It was infuriating. That being said, I still found myself tearing through the pages. I was addicted to the games, the stakes, and all of the terrible decisions in between. That’s all I will say about the plot because y’all really need to experience this WTF scenario for yourselves.
Now let’s talk about characters. There’s a full cast of characters here, so it takes several chapters to catch up to speed. However, once you do, each of the characters are fully developed and have their own personality and characteristics that really sets them apart.
My favorite characters were Nicole and Stella. I said what I said. Nicole made me want to jump through the page and protect her in warmth and love. The majority of the characters are Black. The only character’s ethnicity that is ambiguous is Harrow’s, which is never confirmed. Back to Nicole. She’s tall, Black, fat, and suffers from food insecurity. As a person who also suffered from food security when I was younger, the scenes when she breaks down the biases of food insecurity were some of the most difficult to read.
Back to Stella. Stella is incredibly intelligent. That is obvious from when she sets foot on the private estate. That being said, what comes out of Stella’s mouth is definitely not what anyone wants to hear and those who write her off do a disservice for the book. I will continue to sing her high praises and after everything, maybe you will too.
I’ve read so many locked room mysteries and Clue like books, but I promise you that this one puts a fresh spin on those formulaic stories that you grew up with. It’s about time that we get an author like Kann who truly breathes a fresh air into this type of trope and gives me characters that I can actually see myself in. Furthermore, it’s about time that this isn’t only done in the context of white people. This isn’t a Get Out situation. Bravo Kann. This book is so clever. Your move.
Thank you to Swoon Reads for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.
Claire Kann is the author of LET’S TALK ABOUT LOVE and an award-winning online storyteller. In her other life, she works for a nonprofit that you may have heard of where she daydreams like she’s paid to do it. Find out more by visiting her website: http://www.clairekann.com (and while you’re there, tell her about your cats. She loves cats. A lot.)