Book Review: Endangered by Lamar Giles

EndangeredHoly hell I love Lamar Giles. I’ve loved Lamar Giles ever since I read Fake I.D. in one sitting. This book hooked me, too, so gird your loins. I received this digital ARC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

A psychologically twisted tale from celebrated author Lamar Giles
The one secret she cares about—keeping her identity—is about to be exposed.
Unless Lauren “Panda” Daniels—an anonymous photoblogger who specializes in busting classmates and teachers in compromising positions—plays along with her blackmailer’s little game of Dare or…Dare.
But when the game turns deadly, Panda doesn’t know what to do. And she may need to step out of the shadows to save herself…and everyone else on the blackmailer’s hit list.

1. This is and always will be a “We Need Diverse Books” title, but I think this is done beautifully.

There have been a few Diverse Books titles that I have read that are totally in your face. Diverse Books does not necessarily mean the world has to be so vastly different from anyone else’s world. I really like how Giles’s stories have elements of diverse characters and families without assuming any racial stereotypes (i.e., black families being poor). If you haven’t read Fake I.D., you totally should. The story is amazing. But anyway, back to Endangered. Our main character is Panda (that’s not her real name) and she’s a photography vigilante. She is mixed race – her mom is German (white) and her dad is a black man in the military. She got her nickname at a young age when she was teased for being a mixed race. Her mother showed her pictures of panda bears and she felt like they were her kindred spirits, hence the name Panda. She also has a friend named Ocie (or Mei) who is half black and half Chinese. They do this cute and endearing thing where if they’re in agreement with each other, they say, “that’s our black,” meaning they’re similar. If they’re doing something the other disapproves of, they say, “you’re being so other right now.” I love it. The diversity in this book is amazing, and I love how Giles communicates his diversity.

2. There is a lot of blurring of lines between good and bad.

This is the biggest theme in the book. Panda is a photography vigilante. If that doesn’t make sense to you, I’ll explain, without giving away spoilers. So Panda seeks out people who do wrong, photographs them doing dastardly deeds, and posts them on her alter ego’s website, Gray Scale. This effectively ruins their social life forever, and she is able to sleep at night with the satisfaction that she has saved her adoring public from another villain. However, this begs the question: when do these Robin Hood -esque deeds become mean, instead of helpful? That is something Panda needs to find out about herself over the course of the book. I really loved Panda’s character development because (and I know I have said this so many times before, but it’s true) it makes her feel real. I have a thing about feeling like characters in books are real and Panda feels like an actual person instead of a work of fiction. The way Panda realizes her flaws and comes to accept herself is the way an actual person would. At least, it seems like a way I would do things. I loved her.

3. The sidekicks in this book are super awesome. They aren’t annoying or clingy, and every action they make is justified.

So, there are two sidekicks in this book: Ocie and Taylor. Taylor was Panda’s first victim on her Gray Scale site. Over the course of the book, Taylor needs to earn back Panda’s trust because she just cannot stand him. Anyway, Ocie is short for OCD, which Panda thinks she has. It’s a term of endearment. Ocie and Panda are a great team. It is obvious they have been besties for a long time, and they are some of the best literary best friends I’ve seen. Regardless of the fact that they’re both black and “other,” they seem to be each other’s lifeline and that is beautiful to see, especially in teenagers their age. Their high school is unforgiving when it comes to rumors and gossip – after all, they live in a small town – and these two stick together through it all. Taylor, on the other hand, is kind of a jerk. He had a relationship with Panda, she turned him down when she wasn’t ready to move further, and he ruined her by telling people the opposite. When he comes back into the picture as someone Ocie is tutoring, Panda feels betrayed. But, as a testament to their friendship, Panda gets over it and proves again how mature their friendship is.

4. The twisted murder plot comes out of nowhere, and unless you’re psychic, it’s hard to guess up until the end.

I can’t say a lot about this point, because I don’t want to give anything away. I want you all to read this book, because Lamar Giles is amazing. Anyway, if Fake I.D. and Endangered are any indication, Giles has a fantastic mind for crime stories. This is definitely a murder mystery with a huge twist, especially when it comes to Panda. I feel like I’m getting dangerously close to spoilers, here, so I’ll stop.

5. I mentioned the high school previously, but I want to talk about it more.

So, Portside High is where all of Panda’s friends and enemies attend school. When she first gets involved in Gray Scale, it is to protect people who cannot protect themselves. Her most recent target, Keachin (I know, horrible name), is the opening of the book. Keachin is an awful human being and Panda is determined to exhume her secrets because of what she did to a classmate who has Cerebral Palsy. It is difficult to feel like you’re a hero when no one else feels the same. Panda ends up dealing with a lot. Their high school is like any small high school. It is a beehive, and Keachin is the queen bee. I don’t know how Giles can write teenagers so well, but even his high school population is dead on. I’m a student teacher, so I’m in a high school every day, and the bullying, bad mouthing, gossiping, and friendship are all so familiar in this book, that I felt the high school was mine. Just slap a different name on it. Anyway, if you’re into social dynamic, you will love this book’s setting – high school and otherwise.

OVERALL: FIVE STARS!!!! I honestly loved this book so much. And, as I’ve said before, you really should read Fake I.D., too. It engrossed me so much that I finished it in a day. If you love mysteries and crime and detective work, Giles’s books are for you – especially Endangered. This book comes out on April 21, 2015 and trust me when I say you’ll want this on release day. So, click the link to pre-order and seriously, enjoy this. It’s a fun, wild ride.

Click to Pre-Order!

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