A Chorus Rises, the sequel to A Song Below Water, presents an unheard voice from the first book. Told from the POV of Naema, A Chorus Rises is a story about perspective, community, and solidarity. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
Teen influencer Naema Bradshaw has it all: she’s famous, privileged, has “the good hair”— and she’s an Eloko, a person who’s gifted with a song that woos anyone who hears it. Everyone loves her — well, until she’s cast as the awful person who exposed Tavia’s secret siren powers.
Now, she’s being dragged by the media. No one understands her side: not her boyfriend, not her friends, nor her Eloko community. But Naema knows the truth and is determined to build herself back up — no matter what.
When a new, flourishing segment of Naema’s online supporters start targeting black girls, however, Naema must discover the true purpose of her magical voice.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Reading Naema’s POV was an examination of how quickly the world can turn on us. On apologies that go unheard and ‘villains’ that are created. A Chorus Rises explores the images and identity of Naema. Her role in the magical community, and as a black girl, casts shadows on her life. The ways that misrepresentation and a lack of voice can change our story. We all want to be the hero of our own story, to see our version of reality, and so having our voice ignored, especially after having a voice, changes Naema’s world.
A Chorus Rises made me question internet fame and support. How quickly fear can be mobilized. How the perspectives of who is right and who is heard shifts with the wind. All these elements, and pieces of Naema’s identity play off each other as she struggles to get a handle on the story and world around her. While I loved watching Naema’s story, I felt that the ending was wrapped up a bit too hastily, especially considering the lead up. At around 20% there were all these new layers added that I was looking forward to wrapping up, but I just wished there had been a little more space.
There were also a few plot points with side characters I would have liked more resolution for at the end. A Chorus Rises is a story focused on Naema’s journey. On her coming to terms with what happened in the past, her own role in it, and what could become of the future. If you enjoyed A Song Below Water and are intrigued by Naema’s character, this is definitely worth a read. I wouldn’t read this as a standalone though because I think you’d be missing a lot of context.
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