No Justice, No Peace.

Dima Novak’s QUEENSIDE is more than a YA story about a chess club. It’s an urgent call for collective action in a divided society.

CT Liotta
3 min readDec 26, 2023

Dima Novak’s latest young adult novel, “QUEENSIDE,” is a profound narrative that beautifully captures the essence of adolescence, the pursuit of justice, and the power of unity. Centered around the life of Moses Middleton, a teenager navigating the trials of young love and societal injustice, the story is compelling and poignant, funny and oh-so-readable.

Photo by Val Vesa on Unsplash

As in his debut, PUSHING PAWNS, Novak again showcases his talent for crafting intricate characters, with Moses undergoing a captivating journey from heartbreak to activism. His experiences within his chess club, the Furious Five, serve as the backdrop for a deeper exploration of community dynamics, social activism, and personal identity. Novak’s skill in character development shines through, and Moses’s authentic voice resonates with readers.

The author’s passion for chess shines in QUEENSIDE, but the novel’s standout feature is its thoughtful commentary on contemporary issues. Through Moses and the Furious Five, Novak fearlessly tackles themes such as police brutality and upper-class corruption. The story unflinchingly portrays the harsh realities faced by communities grappling with these challenges, providing a valuable reflection on current social dynamics.

Novak seamlessly blends internal dialogue, action sequences, and character interactions, creating a fluid reading experience. The dialogue, in particular, stands out for its authenticity, capturing the diverse voices of the characters.

If there’s one minor critique to offer, it’s that a few passages in the story sometimes resemble the expository style (but certainly not the political orientation) of Ayn Rand, occasionally affecting the pacing. Unlike Rand, however, Novak’s approach remains grounded and contextual, enhancing the depth of the narrative without becoming didactic. I wouldn’t change it.

A central takeaway from “QUEENSIDE” is the daunting task of challenging systems of injustice. The narrative powerfully illustrates how the wealthy often evade consequences and the powerful escape with impunity. Yet, within this realization lies a vital message: the significance of collective action. The novel emphasizes that while individuals may feel powerless against formidable systems, strength and hope can be found in unity, shared purpose, and friendship — a critical message in a divided society.

The conclusion of the story, which I won’t spoil here, reinforces the idea that even in the face of overwhelming odds, the support we offer each other truly matters. This sentiment resonates deeply, transforming the novel into more than just a story about adolescence — it becomes a reflection on the human condition.

QUEENSIDE” is a noteworthy addition to young adult fiction, offering a poignant exploration of social issues through well-drawn, relatable characters. Its blend of personal growth, activism, and community dynamics makes it an enriching and thought-provoking read. The novel imparts a profound understanding: in a world rife with injustice, our greatest strength lies in our solidarity and the meaningful changes we can achieve together.

Buy Queenside Here



CT Liotta

World traveler & foreign affairs enthusiast. GenX. Lawful neutral. I write gags and titles . Smoke if you got ’em.