I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf
Published by Salaam Reads / Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers on April 19, 2022
Genres: YA Contemporary, YA Mystery
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Barnes & Noble
They Wish They Were Us meets The Queen’s Gambit in the world of competitive Scrabble when a teen girl is forced to investigate the mysterious death of her best friend a year after the fact when her Instagram comes back to life with cryptic posts and messages.
noun: a person or thing that precipitates an event or change
When Najwa Bakri walks into her first Scrabble competition since her best friend’s death, it’s with the intention to heal and move on with her life. Perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to choose the very same competition where said best friend, Trina Low, died. It might be even though Najwa’s trying to change, she’s not ready to give up Trina just yet.
But the same can’t be said for all the other competitors. With Trina, the Scrabble Queen herself, gone, the throne is empty, and her friends are eager to be the next reigning champion. All’s fair in love and Scrabble, but all bets are off when Trina’s formerly inactive Instagram starts posting again, with cryptic messages suggesting that maybe Trina’s death wasn’t as straightforward as everyone thought. And maybe someone at the competition had something to do with it.
As secrets are revealed and the true colors of her friends are shown, it’s up to Najwa to find out who’s behind these mysterious posts—not just to save Trina’s memory, but to save herself.
This review was a little hard for me. While this was a really good story, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting I guess, so that kind of colored my opinion as I got started. I don’t know how to describe what I was actually thinking it was going to be, so those issues are just my own, and I would still highly recommend this book. In fact, I actually pulled up my Words with Friends app and started playing again. But realizing after reading this book how bad of a Scrabble player I actually am. As much as I want to use those words like they do in this book, I can never seem to remember them as I am actually playing.
If you’re coming to this book for a really good mystery, with a little bit of an unreliable narrator, in that she doesn’t remember that day very well, you will be pleased. All of the clues were puzzled out by Najwa as the story moved along. Different words, unusual words, perfect Scrabble words, were used to describe things both by Najwa, as well as by the person who was behind it all, leaving little clues. I actually even had a little inkling it was who it turned out to be early in the book, but of course lots of other things happened to confuse and mislead me and the main characters as the plot progressed. The final reveal was really good, and wrapped it all up perfectly.
Can’t wait to add this to my school library!