The Chosen and the Beautiful

Tor.com. Jun. 2021. 272p. ISBN 9781250784780. $26.99. FANTASY
DEBUT Jordan Baker is an example of 1920s privilege: she has money, an education, a talent for golf, and easy entry into the most glamorous parties of the decade. Yet in a world that prizes everything Jordan has, she’s also scrutinized, for being a queer Vietnamese immigrant adopted as a child. The glittering world that Jordan inhabits is full of magical undertones: drinking demon’s blood; infernal deals; secret desires. Jordan is drawn into relationships with Nick Carraway and Daisy Buchanan, who have ties to the mysterious, extravagant Jay Gatsby. Meanwhile, Jordan’s own magic—bringing paper to life; seeing ghosts—will lead her on a journey of revelation and realization. The characters’ emotional arcs are profound, the settings lavish and styled; Vo’s prose not only conveys the excess but strips it away throughout the story.
VERDICT Vo’s first full-length novel weaves the plot of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby into a vivid tapestry of layered commentary on gender, race, and sexuality, set in a magical Jazz Age New York.
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