Friday, July 5, 2013

Book Review: The Execution of Noa P. Singleton

Noa P. Singleton is on death row for the murder of her father's girlfriend and her unborn child.  Just weeks before her execution date, the mother of the murdered girlfriend visits Noa and offers to try to have her sentence commuted to life in prison in exchange for an explanation for Noa's actions.  As Noa tells her story over the course of the weeks leading up to her execution, we learn that things are not as cut and dry as they appeared to the jury who found Noa guilty.

This is a debut novel, but you'd never guess from the writing.  I was very impressed with the quality and style exhibited by the author.  It certainly deserves the blurbs you'll find on the back from authors like Herman Koch.  Noa is my favorite type of unreliable narrator.  You truly can't tell if she's lying or telling the truth.  And Marlene, the mother of the murdered woman, is equally intriguing.  I think the author managed to capture the ethical dilemma presented by the death penalty, as well as the morally ambiguous decisions that juries face, in way that make the reader thing without providing the author's opinion or moral lecturing.

Entertainment Value
It's definitely a page-turner, but with a literary bent.  It's been compared to Gone Girl in several reviews and I think it's a fair comparison, especially in terms of having morally ambiguous and not necessarily sympathetic characters.  It's a good example of a literary work with excellent writing that also reads quickly and easily.

If you liked Gone Girl, if you like unreliable narrators, and if you like morally ambiguous books that may lead you to re-evaluate your beliefs, this is a good read.  I'd also compare it to Herman Koch's The Dinner, which I also enjoyed.

Thank you to TLC for providing me a copy of the book to review.  To see the other sites on the tour, click here.


  1. I've heard really good things about this book. I need to check it out!

  2. I really want to read this book but death row books always turn my stomach a little bit. I was fairly traumatized by The Life of David Gale and The Green Mile (call it my morally sensitive side...). But thanks to your review, I might pick it up because it doesn't seem as graphic as I had expected.

  3. I'm glad you enjoyed this debut novel. Thanks for being on the tour! I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.

  4. It's an okay book about one particular convict. I'm a little surprised by the glowing reviews. Noa is not a character I sympathized with. I disliked Silver's use of "letters" by Marlene to provide details unavailable to Noa's first person POV. That was kind of contrived. I did like the reveal about why Noa was willing to go to take her execution lying down, so to speak. Keep up the good reviews!