A future Seattle where popularity is everything. The mysterious death of the #1. And an elusive killer.
A rocky year into adulthood and lacking a personal brand, Scottie is skidding toward the bottom spot on the People List—which brings a short ride out of the Dome of New Seattle and into the deadly cold. When a brand finally falls into her lap, it’s a disastrous one: Scottie is accused of causing the death of the longtime #1, a charismatic stage actress named Delilah.
Aided by her “Watson,” the companion her brain chip provides, Scottie scrambles to uncover the person who framed her—and who killed Delilah. Motives in the circle Delilah frequented—a tight group of the town’s social stars—abound. What Scottie unearths will shake the very foundation of her world…and place her squarely in the crosshairs of a shadowy killer intent on clearing a path to #1.
ALL THE WHYS OF DELILAH’S DEMISE: a whodunit set in an all-too-possible future where brand is everything.
Neve Maslakovic writes stories set in the corner where mystery meets science fiction. She is the author of five novels, including Regarding Ducks and Universes (“Inventive… a delight.” — Booklist). Her life journey took her from Belgrade, Serbia to a PhD at Stanford University’s STAR Lab to her dream job as a writer. She lives with her husband, son, and very energetic goldendoodle in the Twin Cities.
Be warned, you may find a bunch of pop-cultural references throughout this review 🙂
Reading this novel, it was really hard to shake off all the similarities with some of the popular movies, books, and TV shows preceding this novel- such as Black Mirror, Stephen King's Under the Dome, The Hunger Games... Despite all the given similarities, this novel held its uniqueness with the setting which I loved.
Given today's society, I know it's not so hard, but just try to imagine: What if your whole life- and by the whole, I mean literary everything: social status, employment, money, reputation- everything is valued through the colorful gems you receive from the other members of the society which are, for most people, likes on today's social media. Based on those gems, you have a rank in the society, and those on the bottom of the food chain are easily kicked out every single week. Those on the top of the food chain are glorified and have everything at their disposal. But, staying on top might cost a few lives.
I was simply drawn in by the idea, the fragments, the thought of where this story is going... BUT!
Almost everything in between felt like a bunch of hot mess. A lot of characters were thrown into the plot of this novel and for many of them, I simply wasn't sure what was even the purpose of their existence, let alone the path they're taking. A lot of fragments of the story were simply hard to get attached to, were hard to track. This resulting in the fact that I almost gave up reading a couple of times. Stubborn as I am, I managed to finish reading the novel, but I had my struggles.
Another pop culture reference coming your way: this novel left me with the same feeling the Game of Thrones series finale left me with. I love the idea, I love the concept, I love the setting, I love some of the characters. But the path from beginning to the very end a lot of times was just a bunch of hot mess and I didn't like most of the path that was taken from start to finish.
In the end, I just want to thank NetGalley and Cosmic Tea Press for the ARC of this novel.
Overall Thoughts This was a fun murder mystery in a post-apocalyptic/dystopian setting, and it’s one where the upbeat writing and interesting characters mask the real situation behind the scenes. We’re mostly in the POV of Scottie, who may or may not have been charged with the murder of the most important person in the domed town of New Seattle—the one at the top of the People List. The story unfolds from there, so let me dig in a bit…
Plot This follows a lot of the plot clichés of murder mysteries: the multiple kills, the suspicious innocents, the plot twists, and does a good job following through on all the threads woven in the story. I’m not going to go in much detail here as things get pretty spoilery quickly, but I will say the reason this book rates lower than some of the others is that I thought the first third dragged a little, and there was a later plot twist that seemed almost out of place, considering how quickly it came about. There is some evidence beforehand, but the twist was not at all what I expected, and I think could have been telegraphed just a little better by one or two hints earlier in the book to make it seem more connected with the rest of the plot.
Setting The setting was what made this story a sci-fi murder mystery, and although we spend nearly all the time inside the domed city, protected from the artificial freeze that’s happened outside, there’s a lot to learn about the world. Society has gotten cut into little pockets. Dystopian measures to control the population and ensure cooperation makes the characters almost childlike in the ways they don’t understand the old world. The reader gets to find out all the interesting ins and outs of the top people in the town as the mystery progresses, learning some of what really happened and how control is kept over the city. This also has to do with that last twist, as I feel there could have been a little more detail concerning the origins of what happened, and it would tie the twist in a lot better.
Character Characters are the biggest part of this story, as with all murder mysteries. “All the Whys,” as the title states. Scottie is freshly into adulthood, which gives us a great open perspective to learn about this society. She’s also got her PALs—socially approved friends—although many forms of love and relationships are forbidden. We are occasionally in another character’s head for a chapter, and the first time this threw me a bit, as I had assumed the book would be from one POV, but often the chapter serves to increase our knowledge of Scottie. Overall, I felt like she might have been searching for too many things, like her own “brand,” along with potential love, the murderer, and information about her family. It diluted the core story a bit for me, but this was still a fairly light and fun read.
Score out of 10 (My personal score, not the final contest score) A dystopian murder mystery where navigating society is a killer! Not as focused as it could be in places, and the final twist wasn’t supported well enough for me, but quite an enjoyable read, overall. 8/10.
When I first started reading, it was hard to shake the SIMS game visuals, but after a few pages, the story settled into a jaunty mystery that kept me turning the pages. I couldn't put it down. There's an interesting juxtaposition of lighthearted murder mystery and deadly dystopia. I don't know that I've read anything quite like it, and I enjoyed the slow awakening that Scottie experiences. While this is a common true-to-life journey for many young people as they step outside what they've been told and assumed, Maslakovic takes this maturation to a whole other speculative level, and the ending was a dark surprise. I enjoyed this one a lot.
Thank you to NetGalley and Cosmic Tea Press for the review copy.
All The Whys of Delilah's Demise gives me Black Mirror Vibes. (Almost rhyme, smug face) Set in the future in New Seattle, with 10,000 residents, popularity is everything and you don't want to find yourself in #10,000 spot. Coz if you do, seeya, you're off sledding out of the doors of the dome, into the very snowy outdoors where chances of frost bite and your nose falling off is, well, high. Gems are awarded between residents to determine popularity and a persons 'worth'. Delilah, number #1 however, has died, and recent graduate Scott (who's in the bottom 1000) wants to find out how, to give herself a brand, and rise up in the ranks to avoid seeing herself sledding out the doors. On starting this novel, I thought okay, I've read some books with similar concepts before (a popularity screen to show all residents where they rank, service being given to a resident depending on how popular they are) and so I was interested if this would follow a similar pattern or whether it would go somewhere different, hold interest and become a novel hard for me to put down. The bonus for this novel, compared to those others I have read is that I really enjoyed the characters, all unique despite most sharing the desire to be 'number #1'. Always a sucker for the 'forbidden' love trope and the overall objective to hunt and find the killer. I definitely found myself wanting to read more and getting more attached to the characters the further I progressed through the novel. 4 ruby gems from me! Thanks to NetGalley, Cosmic Tea Press and Neve Maslakovic for an eArc of this novel, in exchange for an honest review.
Delilah's Demise is a delightful surprise. Oh hey, that rhymes!
An intriguing dystopian future blended with a murder mystery with some scifi style brain chip technology thrown in for good measure!
Scottie is a 19 year old trying to make her way under the Dome of New Seattle, where popularity is the key to success in life. The Tenners (top 10 on "The List" of the most popular Dome residents) govern the dome, not only having popularity but the best housing, food, money and many more perks. Down the bottom of the list, Scottie struggles to get by with her few "gems", and a bad gem marrs her record. The dome is thrown into disarray when Delilah, the Number One of the Tenners, is found dead. After being hauled in for questioning following the incident, Scottie feels there is more to this than there appears, and this sets her on a path of discovery... About the dome, The Tenners... and herself.
I really enjoyed this book and the concept was great, I found Scottie an engaging lead character, and the other characters and relationships interesting. This was a really original story and it was great to read something different.
***Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for this ARC.***
This book is a great addition to the whole social media / dystopian / video game kind of genre. Whatever that is! Scottie is at the low end of the social strata and struggling to find herself in a world based on popularity. Think Hunger Games / Survivor but with a peer rating system that displays above your head. In some ways it reminded me of Super Sad True Love Story but in a dome and with people being kicked off. I loved the concept of PALs and thought the Code was an interesting way to re-frame society. The murder and story line about who it ended up being was my least favorite part of the story. It didn't hold up, in my opinion, to the well thought out and developed world around it. I understand the point, but it felt like a cheap way out. Needless to say, I enjoyed reading the whole book!
Thanks to NetGalley and Cosmic Tea Press for a copy of the book. This review is my own opinion.
I won a free Kindle copy of this in a Goodreads Giveaway.
I got intense Black Mirror (think the episode Nosedive) and Snowpiercer vibes from this book.
Wow! What an incredible and thought provoking story! Scott is a nobody in this ranked society living in a dome after the powers that be plunged the world into the second ice age. Born from skin and hair cells, she tries to figure out who her parents are and is instantly dropped into the bottom thousand for the violation. As the story goes on, the number one, Delilah, dies suddenly and they believe a curse has settled on the city. Scott (Scottie as she prefers to be called) decides to investigate, and let’s just say that things get crazy as this goes on.
The ending is awful, I needed to know more, and I’m just hoping for a sequel!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I can't resist the pull of a book set in the PNW, these days, especially SFF! When I saw that this one, "a whodunit set in an all-too-possible future where brand is everything," takes place in the dome city of "New Seattle," I made sure to sign up for the ARC (thank you NetGalley). Overall I really enjoyed it, especially the fun, unique blend of genres and the humorous narrative voice. Because it's part murder mystery, we get a look at the many different spaces, voices, and histories of the town, as Scottie investigates its residents with her best friend, Dax, and her AI chip, Cece. The town ranking system, AI neural implants, and post-apocalyptic Dome City setting are the key speculative fiction elements of the story, and while these are all somewhat familiar tropes by now, blended into the murder mystery it really makes for something fun and original. I'd recommend this one.
This novel follows main character, Scott, in a futuristic world where everything is based on popularity and rank. After the number one ranked is found dead, Scott tries to unravel the mystery behind who the killer is, while putting herself and her friends in danger.
When I first started to read this book I was sure I wouldn’t like it. But very soon into the book I couldn’t stop reading it. The characters are very well written. The story moves along at a good pace. I couldn’t wait to find out who done it. The ending was very surprising.
I totally loved this book. The mystery was really captivating and witty and I loved Scottie's character. There was a really cute romance and the sci-fi element of the story was fascinating. As others have said, it had a bit of a Black Mirror vibe, but it was done in such a unique way. Scottie's search for a family was really endearing and I loved Dax and the idea of PALs. All of the characters were dynamic and interesting and I really enjoyed the narrative style. I was iffy about how the story ended, but the rest of the story totally made up for that. The world was interesting and it seemed very real. Overall, this book was a really fun blend of sci-fi and a classic whodunnit mystery that I hadn't really seen before and it was beyond enjoyable. I literally could not put it down.
Thank you to NetGalley and Cosmic Tea Press for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Maslakovic has delivered a skilled indictment of the insidious nature of social media and the scramble to be liked. 'All the Whys of Delilah's Demise' is more than a sharp glimpse into the future. The plot leaps from dystopian to mystery, with an inept, social pariah detective to chase the twists and red herrings. Kept me guessing until the end.