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Nikki Tate is infamous, even by Las Vegas standards. Her dad is sitting on death row, convicted of killing his best friend in a gambling dispute turned ugly. And for five years, he’s maintained his innocence. But Nikki wants no part of that. She’s been working on Operation Escape Vegas: playing in illegal card games so she can save up enough money to get out come graduation day.

Then her dad’s murder conviction is overturned. The new evidence seems to come out of nowhere and Nikki’s life becomes a mess when he’s released from prison. Because the dad who comes home is not the dad she remembers. And he’s desperately obsessed with finding out who framed him—and why.

As her dad digs into the seedy underbelly of Vegas, the past threatens everything and Nikki is drawn into his deadly hunt for the truth. But in the city of sin, some sinners will do anything to keep their secrets, and Nikki soon finds herself playing for the biggest gamble ever—her life.

352 pages, Hardcover

First published March 28, 2017

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About the author

Lamar Giles

28 books476 followers
Lamar "L. R." Giles writes books for teens and adults. FAKE ID, his debut Young Adult Thriller, will be published by HarperCollins in 2014. He is represented by Jamie Weiss Chilton of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency and resides in Chesapeake, VA with his wife.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 185 reviews
Profile Image for jv poore.
612 reviews203 followers
March 28, 2023
I am always seeking books that will immediately intrigue ‘my’ students. Many times, I’ve been sucked into a suspense-filled, action-packed, heart-pumping mystery…surrounding a subject they could not care less about. Aptly, of course, young adults are not the intended audience—I am.


Young adult readers deserve thrilling books.

Mr. Giles seems pleased to provide. And now, I may be the only person looking forward to school starting. I cannot wait to share Overturned.

The setting: the very casino where 16-year-old Nikki Tate works…as well as resides, stimulates the reader’s senses. At a blush, that life-style—for a high-school student—sounds kinda fabulous. And it was. Once.

Without her dad around to run things, the responsibility falls straight through her mother’s trembling fingers into Nikki’s own hands. She can handle it. Has to. Knowing, with her whole heart, that her father is not capable of murder doesn’t keep him off death row. Someone has to support the family—not just the three of them; the trusted and treasured employees of Cosmos matter, too.

Otherwise, she would never consider running her own after-hours, under-the-table card games. Which were not really a big deal. There’s only one human better at poker than Nikki and he’s not here right now. Gavin may still be in his teens, but his bulk makes him the perfect bouncer. Maybe he has a few butterflies when her invitations are extended to some shady characters, but Nikki knows she’s got this.

Until something even odder than the initial arrest and murder charge. New evidence, and an attorney more than pleased to represent Mr. Tate, appears. Conviction overturned and Mr. Tate is head of his casino once again.

Nikki’s delight with his return was fleeting. She once believed he was always there when she needed him. Now, his presence is so far past smothering, she seethes when they share the same space. Determined to make up for the lost time, and hoping to find the sweet, happy Babygirl he remembers; her dad dives deeper into her life.

Although Nikki doesn’t see it at first, Mr. Tate is not as angry as he is horrified and frightened by what he finds. As dad works diligently to get his daughter out of the quick-sand she doesn’t know she’s standing in, Nikki consistently (albeit unintentionally) blocks his way with a combination of teen-age infatuation and obligatory rebellion.

Overturned by Mr. Giles is absolutely every single thing I wish for when I want to wow ‘my’ student with a Book Talk.

This review was written by jv poore for Buried Under Books, with huge thanks for the Advance Review Copy for my favorite classroom library.
Profile Image for Bitchin' Reads.
459 reviews122 followers
May 3, 2017
Received an ARC at Yallfest.

This is not a book that would normally attract me, and I honestly don't know if I would have picked this book up on my own if I hadn't received an ARC--just not a genre or type of story that would draw my attention.

That being said, I truly enjoyed reading Overturned despite it being a genre that I don't normally dabble within. The main character was that stereotypical young woman trying to take on the world, protecting everyone and wanting to solve the problems, but it was different with Nikki our protag here. She isn't your normal teenager--practically running a casino on her own after her father's incarceration, maintaining high GPA in high school, participating in the high school soccer team, AND running a gambling gig in her late evenings--and she proves time and again her intelligence and dedication to the activities and people she loves. She is a smart cookie, a highly intelligent person, so I could get over the do-it-myself mindset she had; she had been do it herself and doing it well for a long time.

The plot twists were also great. Unexpected, really shocking. And there were moments that were so emotional that I needed to close the book for a moment to regroup my emotions (i.e. her father's funeral and the card players showed up with their condolences).

I give it a 3.5/5, rounded up because it is an enjoyable, entertaining mystery that Lamar Giles has right here. Check it out!
Profile Image for Trisha.
4,637 reviews161 followers
July 18, 2017
"Cardplayers are fools
leaving their hopes and dreams
to paper kings and queens."

Equal parts mystery, equal parts the rush of nerves and smiles of new love.

Nikki Tate is a legacy - a legacy Poker player and Las Vegas casino owner (well, her mom and dad at least). Here dad is one of the best - until he was charged with murdering one of his friends and put away in jail. But that's not where our story starts. Our story starts with Nikki on the day her dad is released - because he's been "not guilty" this whole time and the law and the court just finally caught up with the truth.

But Nikki's dad has been gone for years and she's moved on with her life - she's focused on her own Poker games to win money and head off to the great big world of college. She wants more than this Vegas town.

It's only a few days Nikki gets with her dad before he is horribly murdered in an alley and she's left with new questions and struggles and the need to know why - why is he gone again when she just got him back?

In the midst of all this, Nikki meets Davis - son of a rival Vegas Casino owner. He knows her world and how she has to live it. He sees her cracks and her struggles and he just wants to know how he can be there for her through it all.

I loved this story and I loved Nikki. She was hot tempered and cruel at times, but she was focused and fiercely loyal. And when she picked up that bat and beat a car, I rooted her on even in my fear of what she'd do next. Her friend Molly gave Nikki a depth of caring and personality that completely rounded her out and I loved Molly for her wily and loyal ways. Davis was sweet and the perfect love interest to round the story out. Absolutely loved it. How have I not read all of this author's work? I will definitely fix that stat!
10 reviews
March 6, 2017
This was a great and mysterious book but is sad, a little, not really. It will keep you reading and wondering. The book is about a girl and her father who got convicted of murder and new evidence is found and her dad is not the one who murdered his friend (Jonathon). But after a week or so Nikki (name of girl) and her father get in a fight and her dad leaves the house and a week or so later Nikki's father is found dead on the side of a street and Nikki will do anything to find out who murdered her father. This was an amazing book and if you like mysterious books I defiantly recommend Overturned.
Profile Image for Kira Simion.
819 reviews126 followers
May 31, 2018
The name "Overturned" was definitely an amazing choice because while it wasn't the name itself that attracted me to the book, it is what hooked me. This is because one can overturn the cards of a deck and the father's conviction was overturned. I love the cleverness of that.

I read Endangered by this author and this is definitely a few upgrades up in the excitement level. Yay! It's (so far) so much fun reading this!

3.5 stars rounded up! The plot twists (2) were amazing!! Better than The Red Queen's larger plot twist (mainly because it actually made more sense in that there were actual clues).

My only major complaint is that the middle nearing the ending, but mainly the middle middle (does that even make sense?) dragged on. There was action, but it seemed like it was just to fill up page count (but that's just me, maybe).

Overall, I'm impressed and hope the author makes more books!
Profile Image for Heather *sad DNF queen*.
Author 19 books461 followers
Shelved as 'nevermind'
May 6, 2019
DNF at 46%. Every time this book grabbed me, it managed to lose me again with things like... the plot. I just wasn't interested in everything about Nikki's dad.
3 reviews1 follower
September 27, 2018
I am here representing the Las Vegas Journal, and I am now interviewing Nikki Tate, a 16 year old who has faced a whole lot in the past year. There is a book about her adventures Overturned, by Lamar Giles, and Nikki is here to talk about her dramatic experience. She will talk about Gavin and Molly, her best friends, Davis, her kind of ex-boyfriend and her parents. Her dad was released from death row, and now her luck already turns around. But, I’ll let Nikki tell her own story.
Interviewer: Thanks for coming out, should we start?
Nikki: Sure, shoot away.
Interviewer: What made you have hope that your dad would someday be released from prison?
Nikki: Well, it would probably be his letters that he sent me. My dad would send the best letters, like he was being my parent without actually being there. It just made me feel more connected with him and when your that close, you just have to retain hope. I really just knew that he didn’t do it as well. This was my dad, and as far as I knew back then, he was a great guy who would never hurt anyone for any reason.
Interviewer: Why did you feel so aggravated with him right after he got out?
Nikki: I really can’t explain it, but it was a combination of two things. Firstly, I kind of thought that it was his fault he was in there. I easily noticed he had changed so much when coming out of prison, and I was thinking that he could have actually committed the crime. Secondly, I felt like he was guilty in someway. The way that he was talking with my mom and kind of avoiding me was weird.
Interviewer: What made you save Davis from the football team?
Nikki: As I said, I don’t like people getting blamed for things they didn’t do. It obviously connects to my dad, and how he had to suffer in prison for 5 years on death row. I felt like saving Davis would also be like saving my dad. He was also my crush though, and made me more motivated to just step in and help
Interviewer: Why is there so much tension between you and your mom?
Nikki: We just never seemed to connect. I had an easier time connecting with my dad, especially because I loved poker so much. I was able to go to my dad, and hang out with him, and same with my mom, but we never really went to each other for guidance. It’s simply that we just don’t connect.
Interviewer: Would you enjoy living in Vegas if all this confusion with your dad did not happen?
Nikki: I don’t think I would. I have longed to get out of here and go to UVA with my friends, Gavin and Molly. It’s just living in a casino doesn’t always have its upsides. I would have to deal with drunk people, cheaters, and every type of person basically in my living room. Also, I have played many illegal poker games, and it would be nice to have a fresh start in a college far, far away.
Interviewer: How do you think others would describe you?
Nikki: I think they would describe me as daring and way too perseverant. I play poker games with people in the biker gang, even though that is extremely dangerous, well, for anyone. I also kept trying to find my dad’s murder even when it included talking to strange grown men, fighting my mom, a lot, and taking death threats. It just meant so much to me, it's just that I got him right back, and a weak later, he is dead.
Interviewer: Would you consider you relationships with your best friends strong?
Nikki: I really would. I even trampled Molly and impaled her with my cleat and she still helped me. I even forgave Gavin when he was paid off by Davis to put the dead-man’s hand in my locker. We have stayed together for anything, and they even risked their lives for me when they helped me catch my dad’s killer.
Interviewer: How did you feel when Molly told you she wasn’t going to UVA?
Nikki: It was terrible. We had all made this plan so that Gavin, Molly, and I could all stay together, and she just abandons it. I was making money playing poker just to go to UVA with them. It made me wonder about my future, and now I had no idea what I should do.
Interviewer: What is your greatest weakness?
Nikki: It would have to be my persistence. I could easily go to far, like how I challenged Molly to soccer, and I was persisting and kept playing, and I eventually went to far and stepped on her with my cleat. I could probably go way too far in the future with anything, and I would need to be more cautious.
Interviewer: Were you mad at your mom or just frustrated with life?
Nikki: I think it was a little bit of both. As I said, I just never really connected with my mom, and she just couldn’t understand me, or my motivations to find my mom. I was also mad that everything was happening, for example, me getting grounded switching school, Molly not going to UVA, Gavin and Davis betraying me, it was terrible.
Interviewer: Thank you for coming out, Nikki!
Nikki: No problem.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Author 7 books129 followers
December 21, 2016
Was so excited to get my hands on an ARC for this! The premise intrigued me, since I'm a fan of poker myself (though I'm not quite the connoisseur Nikki is), and the narrative voice ensnared me. Once I started reading, I was roped in for the long haul.

For the most part, I liked the characters, but some of them still felt one-dimensional at the end, particularly Cedric and Tomás. They were integral to the story, and yet I felt I didn't understand or know them beyond a superficial level when everything was said and done. And as far as MCs go, Nikki was tolerable. Not overwhelmingly kickass or unforgettable, but tolerable. She made some pretty stupid decisions throughout the book and never really stopped to consider the consequences of her choices. Was hoping to see some sort of growth in that respect - that she might start to think of others instead of just herself - but alas, no such growth happened. And everything all seemed to go a little too smoothly at the end for her, despite how haphazard and rushed her planning was. Never really saw the appeal in Davis either, as a love interest, and couldn't seem to make myself care about that aspect of Nikki's future. My favorite character was probably Molly. Solid friend, unwavering loyalty, and a killer sense of self.. Very complex character that I would get along with quite well.

Something about Giles' writing style in this one made me want to keep reading, despite the predictability of the plot, the one-dimensional side characters, and the occasional grammar/punctuation error. This was a great read, with undertones of treatment of blacks in the justice system. The political agenda of the book aside, I found it rather enjoyable and recommend it to anyone who likes murder mysteries or YA fiction (or both ;] ).
Profile Image for Liz Friend.
970 reviews81 followers
October 17, 2017
The story: Nikki is determined to solve her father's murder with the help of her friends Molly, Gavin and Davis. The search for clues leads them into the seedy underbelly of Las Vegas--and to the startling conclusion that Davis's mobster father might somehow be connected to the crime. Can Nikki find out the truth, or will her feelings for Davis give him a free pass?

June Cleaver's ratings: Language PG-13; Violence PG-13 (there are several murders but luckily they aren't graphically described); Sexual content PG; Nudity G; Substance abuse R (underage drinking); Magic & the occult G; GLBT content G; adult themes (murder, underage gambling, truancy, extremely risky behaviors) PG-13; overall rating PG-13.

Liz's comments: I'm usually a big fan of mystery stories, but I thought this one, taking place as it did in down-at-heel gambling joints and motorcycle bars, was a bit too gritty for MS and its heroine too careless of her own and others' safety to be very likable. I found it adequate but not great.
Profile Image for Janelle Fila.
149 reviews12 followers
June 30, 2017
I bought this book for my 16 year-old son. Because he is a reluctant reader, I'm always looking for stories that might interest him, and I hoped the mystery and the poker theme would entice him to want to read this book. He DEVOURED this book! It is a great feeling to see a teenager reading of his own choice (instead of playing Xbox or reading because I'm forcing him to). I am so glad I bought this book for him and I just ordered ENDANGERED for him to read, as well.
January 11, 2019
This book was a RUSH!!!

Before I get to the review, I'm showcasing the amazing cover that drew me to this novel in the first place. No Scholastic, I don't want that boring, generic, whitewashed, playing card asshatery you're trying to foist off because you still think books with Black faces won't sell. Newsflash: according to current Pew Research data, the largest book buying group in this country are COLLEGE. EDUCATED. BLACK. WOMEN! Get that through your thick, backwards skulls! #representationmatters, and there are tons of young Black kids - especially Black girls - who'd LOVE to see themselves on the cover of a book. I'm a grown woman who saw that gorgeous dark-skinned girl on the cover and wanted it. Even BEFORE I read the back blurb.

End of righteous rage. Now on to the review.

This needs to be a movie, stat. Give me time, I'll have my dream cast soon. This book kept me on the edge of my seat. Nikki Tate joins my bad ass heroines list. I know squat about poker, but Nikki's mad skills made me cheer. Author Lamar Giles knocked this out of the ballpark - no heroine hijacking, no girls fighting over the hawt guy du jour, no clueless absentee parents.

And Las Vegas. And bikers. And card cheats.
Profile Image for Laura.
1,322 reviews44 followers
October 27, 2021
Really interesting concept, but I thought the execution fell flat. There were some really great moments and chapters here and there, but overall the whole was less than the sum of its parts, for me. I just felt like the focus, both by the author and on the part of Nikki (as the book was told entirely in first person from her POV) was more on the teen drama than on the mystery. Obviously my preconceptions about the book were wrong about that. I also thought there were some really odd character interactions that didn't make sense. For example, at one point Nikki was trying to avoid talking to one of her very best friends (the whole reason she is operating the illegal poker ring is to save up money to go to the same university as her two friends) and she plows over the poor girl during soccer practice so badly that the coach has to bandage her injuries. She never apologized, and the friend didn't seem to even be upset about it. I just thought it was really bizarre.

Not a bad book on the whole, but not amazing either.
Profile Image for Claire.
1,355 reviews41 followers
February 18, 2017
This is a fast paced edgy murder mystery. Nikki's cleverness hooked me into this story right away. She has inherited her father Nate's talent for poker - he is a champion. The thing is, he is gone, in prison for a murder he did not commit.
When he is released, he singlemindedly pursues the truth behind the murder that put him behind bars. There is a grittiness to the story that is inherently Las Vegas.
5 reviews
September 27, 2017

While Overturned is a fairly slow book, it is a very interesting one to read. At first, I was drawn in by the eerie, mysterious plot, not expecting a well-written novel, but I found that in addition to being a captivating story, it was also an engaging book to read.

Sixteen-year-old Nikki Tate’s father was on death row for the murder of his best friend named John Reedy. While her father is in jail she goes about her normal life, playing illegal card games so that she can pay for her tuition to a college anywhere else but Vegas, playing for her school’s soccer team. It’s when he gets out of jail that things start to change. He becomes immersed (much like the reader) in finding out who framed him and why, but that road is a dangerous one, and you never know what could happen.

One thing that I found particularly engaging was the author's style and word choice. While you are reading the book you feel like you are part of the story. Everywhere that Nikki and her friends go, you feel like you are really there. Words like supernatural, condemning, and undeniably make you feel like you are inside of the story, and the way Giles strings his sentences together makes you smell the dry, hot Las Vegas air.

While I did enjoy this book, there aren't only positives. For someone who likes an exciting, fast-paced novel, this book may not be for you. In fact, one of my friends had to put the book down because it was too slow moving for them. In the end, though, I think that even if you are someone who doesn't enjoy thriller or mystery books, you should give this book a shot.
Profile Image for Shae.
741 reviews169 followers
March 31, 2018
I loved this to pieces. As with Endangered (which I also loved, review here), Overturned is high on tension, high on shades of grey, and high on real consequences for real crap. I loved every second of it. (Even if I did guess the villain before the big reveal, because hi, that's what I do.)
Profile Image for Nicole Chang.
24 reviews5 followers
March 30, 2018
I didn't quite get the ending but the book was nice and adventurous.
Profile Image for Charlottek18.
16 reviews
March 6, 2017
This was a really good book. The idea of a girl playing card games to get a college tuition is a good one. The plot twists are good and the book is fast paced, although hard to follow some of the time. The main character made a lot of mistakes and it was really aggravating at times but the writing was good enough to pull through the rough spots. This is a good book if you like murder mysteries with quite a bit of tension, while not being to graphic.
1 review
February 27, 2017
I really enjoyed this mystery! It takes place in Las Vegas and the characters are high schoolers. There is mystery, suspense, and a tiny bit of romance. There are many twists and turns to the story. I had a hard time putting it down!!
Profile Image for Kim.
Author 3 books6 followers
February 20, 2017
17-yr-old Nikki Tate is one tough cookie. She has to be. Since her World Champion Poker playing father was convicted of murder and sentenced to death, she's had to help her mother run the family business- a casino in Las Vegas. On the side, she plays poker to save money for college. Then new evidence comes to light and her father's conviction is overturned. He comes home, but home has changed in the five years that he's been in jail. Her dad starts investigating who set him up for murder. Nikki gets interested too and gets herself involved in a conspiracy much darker and deeper than she expected. She thinks she can bring the murderer to justice, but it could cost her life. It's a bet she's willing to make.

This is one of the best mysteries I've read in a while and I loved tough, smart Nikki Tate. This is for older readers, 14 and up. Adults would enjoy it too.
Profile Image for Ravencrantz.
519 reviews58 followers
September 20, 2017

This was not what I expected. Partly in a good way, partly in a bad way. I thought it would focus on Nikki and her dad trying to figure out who framed him, but the first half of this book focused very heavily on Nikki and her love life. We followed her gushing about a crush, and their first date, being paired together on a class project. Typical YA tropes. It was done well, it's just not my thing and I don't like it when I go into a book expecting one thing and then get this. Thankfully, the second half focused on murder plots and detective work.

One thing I really appreciated was Nikki asking for help. Sure she tried to do things on her own first, but when she realized she needed help, she wasn't afraid to ask for it. Her friends were always there for her, and when she realized her mom was hurting just as much as she was, she made amends. She's such a great character and feels so real, this may have been an impulse read, but for once I'm glad it happened.

The only real thing that bugged me (other than tropes, I understand why those are included) was brand dropping. I'm never a fan of brand dropping in media because it can so easily date the story. What happens when Uber is no longer a thing? What happens when people no longer care about iPhones? The only time this works is when authors purposely use something outdated, usually to make a point (I think Jay Asher talked about this with Thirteen Reasons Why, but that book is full of its own problems).

Overall this was a good book! The writing was smooth and entertaining, and once plot started happening, I didn't want to put the book down. It definitely made me interested in his other books too, so I look forward to reading those.
Profile Image for Read InAGarden.
943 reviews12 followers
February 5, 2017
Lamar Giles is quickly becoming a go to author for fast paced young adult mysteries full of solid writing. In Overturned readers meet Nikki as she is picking up her father, Nate, from jail. Nate was in jail for killing one of his business partners but newly found evidence has freed him. Back home at the family casino, Nate doesn't seem to be acclimating well to freedom and Nikki is worried about him. But not too worried to forego her clandestine poker games with the heavy hitters. These games are important to a card shark like Nikki as she is counting on her winnings funding her get out of Vegas/ college plan. Then Nate is killed and Nikki's plans change. Armed with her father's phone and a few random clues Nikki sets out to find out what activities had been filling Nate's final days. But the more Nikki, and her friends dig, the more people try to warn her that digging may be harmful to her health as well.
Profile Image for Anne.
608 reviews
March 15, 2018
I did not enjoy this mystery. I did not find the 16-year-old narrator believable. At least half the book was wasted space filled with teenage angst, which did not interest me at all. Not suitable for adults. Not recommended.
1 review
December 8, 2017
The novel Overturned, by Lamar Giles is one of the only mystery novels I have ever read, and I really enjoyed it. Overturned is a murder mystery novel, where the main character Nikki Tate and her friends Gavin and Molly hunt for a murderer who accused Nikki’s dad, Nathan Tate of killing his best friend over a friendly game of poker. Nathan Tate, being a two-time World Series of Poker Champion is then sent to prison. However, further evidence shows that Nathan Tate is actually innocent, and he gets released from prison. Nonetheless, Nikki doesn’t see her father the same way after this event. Nathan’s attitude and personality changes, while he goes into a deep investigation to find the accuser.

Throughout the entire book, Giles did a great job developing the characters personality by not being so stereotypical, and making each character have a purpose to the novel. Nikki a teenage girl, whos father is Nathan Tate, attends high school and is very involved. She maintains good grades, and is also part of the girls soccer team with her friend, Molly. Nikki is very independent, while running a whole casino herself, and taking blame on herself for different situations. Her two friends, Molly and Gavin stand very close to Nikki if she needs any help. Molly and Gavin have very close relationships with Nikki; they all have plans on attending the same college, University of Virginia, in the future. I really enjoyed each of the characters because they connected to each other very well. Nikki, Molly, and Gavin always had an input to the story, by either adding ideas to solve the mystery, or just by giving support to each other as they made tough decisions.

Another great aspect of this book was the way the author added in plot twists. This really kept me on the edge for some time, and really had me thinking on what specifically was going on in the book. This book, unlike like others that I’ve read didn’t have any “dry” areas. Many of the books I had read in the past had areas in the middle where the plot was very boring and dull. Overturned in my opinion was different, the author always kept the story moving, by either tying things within the mystery together, or adding to the romance between Nikki and Davis.

“I arranged the five cards in the only order that made sense. BACK OFF OR ELSE. The phrase was clear. There was an additional message, though. The cards- their suits and denominations- were not random. The hand was specific. Some cardplayers would call it mythic. Legend.” (Giles 231)

These types of plot twists were very uncalled for throughout the story. At some points Nikki got back to normal living habits, but almost always the addition of poker, and the idea of it brought her back into the mystery, hungry for more evidence.

As the book progressed, the mystery kept getting clearer and clearer for Nikki, but for myself, I couldn’t really catch on to what was going on until I read a little slower and paid a little more attention to detail. I believe this is what makes the difference between good books and great ones.

In the end, this book does have some underage gambling, murder, and violence, so I would recommend this book to anyone over the age of 13. Even if mystery isn’t your type of genre that you may enjoy, this book still keeps the reader engaged and thinking. The author did a great job writing this novel, and really engaged the reader by the use of plot twists. For this reason I give the novel, Overturned a 4.5 stars out of 5.

Profile Image for Daniel.
2,384 reviews36 followers
November 23, 2022
This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 4.0 of 5

Nikki Tate is not just a card player, she's one of the best. She should be - she was taught by her father, an experienced Las Vegas gambler. But Nikki is underage and not able to sit in on the legal card games. But Las Vegas, there are plenty of backroom, illegal games and Nikki knows many of them. She's looking to build up her bank account so when it's time to head off to college, she'll have the money the finally get out of the town that's taken everything from her.
Her father has been sitting in jail on death row, accused and found guilty of murdering his best friend in a gambling dispute. But he's maintained his innocence throughout the trial and incarceration and after five years in prison, new evidence comes to light and his conviction is overturned. He is released from prison, but the man who comes home is not the same man who was wrongfully convicted. He is now driven to learn who might have framed him, and why.

Although she'd prefer to stay focused on leaving Las Vegas, Nikki is drawn into her father's vendetta. But whoever was behind this has already proven that they are willing to kill, putting both Nikki and her father in mortal danger.

I really like this kind of YA novel. It doesn't pull any punches and the means of putting the YA main character in control of his/her own life is a contrived 'accident' in which his/her parents are killed. Not only is the story here unique, with the father going to jail, it addresses the mental changes a person would go through by being imprisoned.

The rough life that Nikki faces, is no different than that rough life we see in popular YA books like the Hunger Games series or the Divergent series, but Nikki's life is rooted not in a fantasy world, but in a recognizable, 'today, here and now' world. And in keeping with the YA style, Nikki has to excel at something, making her unique, and here it is a skill at gambling/cards.

Like so many books, what makes this work are the characters. Nikki is a strong, believable young woman. She is easily someone that readers can relate to. She shows her weaknesses to her friends, who support her and encourage her. They are friends not because of her strengths but because of her character.

The ancillary characters are not quite as well defined but that's mostly because don't get a lot of their history. We get what we need to know about them for them to fulfill their supporting roles.

The card-playing is handled well and the gambling is never really glorified (although Nikki's skills are).

Looking for a good book? For YA readers who aren't interested in fantasy or post-apocalyptic, depressing fiction, or maybe just want to change things up, the mystery Overturned, by Lamar Giles is a really good read.

I receive a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for American Mensa.
943 reviews45 followers
July 11, 2019
Overturned by Lamar Giles is a realistic fiction story about the journey of Las Vegas teenager Nikki Tate. She has grown up inside her family casino, Andromeda’s, and feels most at home on the game room floor. Her dad is the world-renowned poker player Nathan Tate, who was convicted of murdering his best friend and sits on death row. For the last five years, Nikki has adjusted to a life without her dad by writing him letters and ignoring the constant barrage of press. On the outside, she appears to be a normal teenager, playing on the high school soccer team and hanging out with her two best friends Molly and Gavin. She even has a crush on Davis Carlino, the son of the owner of a rival casino. By night, she runs illegal poker rings in the basement of the casino, using her inherited poker talent to boost her college fund. However, when Nathan is found to be wrongfully convicted and is released from prison, Nikki’s life is flipped upside down. Nathan is obsessed with finding the person who caused his imprisonment and goes on a search with dire consequences. Nikki is caught in the balance and cannot make sense of the sea of friends and enemies around her. Will Nathan find his framer, and what secrets will the Tate family uncover in the process? Read the book to find out.

The storyline of this book was fast-paced and exciting. Strong emotions like romance, grief, and jealousy pulsated through the plot, keeping my attention. While most plots follow a roller coaster diagram with a bump at the climax, reading Overturned felt like one continuous peak. The buildup was almost as exciting as the high itself. The life of gamblers in Sin City is bound to be an eventful one, and this book did a great job of capturing that excitement while still producing a well-conceived story.

Another great aspect of this book was the character development. Overturned struck a delicate balance between character personalities to make them more relatable to the reader. For example, the bright, bold personality of Nikki was balanced by gentle giant Gavin. This balance prevented Nikki from dominating the entire plot and allowed the reader to see other aspects of her personality. Also, I enjoyed the rivalry created between the Tates and Carlinos. It added more depth to the romance between Nikki and Davis, and more fire to Nathan Tate's search for his framer as he ruled out possibilities.

I would recommend this book to any teenage reader. The presence of violence and gambling in this book may make it too much for a younger reader to handle. Also, the more subtle emotional connections between characters may be lost to a young, innocent reader even if they are able to handle everything else.
Review by Anya A, age 14, Metropolitan Washington Mensa
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280 reviews
April 11, 2019
I really feel like this was the kind of book I never knew I needed. It was stereotypical YA, had some issues, some predictable twists, and a way too driven main character. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed everything in this novel, including its faults.

The characters were all, looking back on it, pretty good... I guess? No one was really all that memorable. I did highly enjoy the mysteriousness of Davis, and just how deeply driven Nikki was. Nikki made a lot of questionable decisions, but I was fine with it, because they all fit her flawed character really well. I think the author did a super good job of showing how all of these characters were imperfect- everyone made mistakes from time to time, which I loved.

The plot was, looking back on it, was alright. There were some things that didn't make a lot of sense, or were very out of character at times. Nikki, for one, had WAY too much power for a seventeen year old. This is something I enjoyed, but I recognize is unrealistic. The writing was very fast, which is one of the reasons why I love a lot of YA books, but for this novel, it felt a little too fast at times. Towards the end, my mind was racing just because I was reading everything so dang quick. I still don't think the killer was that realistic- their motive just wasn't all that strong. The book set up this huge Las Vegas underbelly crime scene, and I wish we were drawn into that a bit more, because it felt like we got a glimpse, then Nikki just sorta... ignored it? And things turned out okay anyways? I don't know.

I really enjoyed the amount of it talking about the underbelly of Vegas though. All the shady characters they meet were super enjoyable. I desperately wanted to know more about the crime scene, these gangs of sorts, and who's paying who. It would have been great. The poker aesthetic throughout though: fantastic. I loved how much risk taking, and poker was mentioned. What a great theme. It worked very well for Giles.

If you're looking for an easy to read, fast paced, mystery driven novel (and don't have super high expectations), this book could be great for you.
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