Book Review: The Execution of Noa P. Singleton

August 11, 2014 Whitney Review 0 Comments

Book Review: The Execution of Noa P. SingletonThe Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth L. Silver
Published by Crown Publishing on June 11, 2013
Genres: General Fiction
Source: Bought

Before I Go to Sleep meets Defending Jacob, with a voice reminiscent of Lionel Shriver, in this story of a woman on death row, what she did to get there, and why she may not want the truth to come out.

Six months before her execution date, Noa is visited on Pennsylvania's death row by a high-powered attorney named Marlene Dixon who initiates a clemency petition on her behalf. Marlene also happens to be the mother of Noa's victim, Sarah, and ten years earlier, she helped cement Noa's fate on the witness stand. What unfolds is the haunting account of Noa P. Singleton, an insular, acerbic thirty-five-year-old woman who agrees to entertain this last-minute appeal because Marlene has unexpectedly reversed her belief in the death penalty.

Marlene wants to know why her daughter died, and she scours Noa's past to reveal the bright loner who took Sarah's life. Haunting those involved is the fact that the motive was never revealed, but Noa doesn't want to fight for her life, and she is only slowly persuaded to tell what happened that day. A character-driven story about two women whose lives are inextricably linked through the law, through shared sentiments of guilt, and through irreversible mistakes, Noa and Marlene's motivations become increasingly nebulous, and in the end they must accept that they are in fact a blurred spectrum of good and evil.

The Execution of Noa P. Singleton is a novel of why.  Why would Noa commit this heinous crime?  That is the question that is hit over the head like a dead horse and slowly we see inside its cranium.

Like breadcrumbs, the reader was fed the story of Noa’s crime bit by bit.  Although as I ate these crumbs they felt stale in my mouth.  There wasn’t anything horribly original about the plot.  Noa comes from a broken home, riddled with Daddy issues which only bleed out after reuniting with her father.  Although I will say that I did not find her to be the villain of the story, she was just at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and made a stupid decision.

All the characters from Marleen and Sarah Dixen to Noa herself were poorly designed.  I did not find much depth or growth in any shape or form.  They never sprouted and instead were as flat as a pancake. Not to harp, but there really was potential to beef-up and bring the assisting attorney Oliver and Noa’s father Caleb to their own and step up to the plate but instead they stayed in the batters box never to see the light of day.

The slow evolution of what happened on January 1st led to a let down.  Really?  That’s it?  I was left speechless and not for the right reason.  The twist to the reason why Sarah Dixen died wasn’t even much of a twist but rather a ho-hum.  The whole story died with Sarah, along with missed opportunities.  I will say that I found satisfaction with Noa’s X-Day, it was “poof” off into the night, for it to be continued with the living.  Unfortunately, the poor execution of Elizabeth Silver’s novel also poofed away expectations I originally felt for The Execution of Noa P. Singleton.


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