New Waves by Kevin Nguyen [in Library Journal]
Once upon a time – before social media, before digital traces and imprints – death meant an end. Not so much for Lucas after his friend Margo dies by speeding taxi. The unlikely (nonromantic) pair – coworkers at a tech start-up where Margo is the gifted programmer and Lucas a lowly customer service rep – have spent most of the past couple years together in and out of the office.
Their bond is cemented by a serendipitous realization of shared teenage history – as virtual collaborators on an obscure music uploading site – albeit not for long with Margo’s death at just 25. Before she goes, she manages to get fired, devises a data-theft revenge plan, makes Lucas an accomplice, then alacritously negotiates their next jobs together at a rival company.
When Margo’s mother requests Lucas’s help in taking down Margo’s Facebook account, he ends up stealing her computer. The Margo he’s known – a brilliant, angry black woman avoiding strangulation in a white, male, privileged world of cutting-edge technology – hardly resembles the person he’s about to get to know via her once-private screen.
Verdict: Savvy and savage (with plenty of racist, sexist, sociopolitical bite), pop lit doyen Kevin Nguyen’s fiction debut is poised to trigger “new waves.”