New Waves

One World. Mar. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9781984855237. $27;.
DEBUT 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 Nguyen’s fiction debut is poised to trigger “new waves.”

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