There’s no question the book is compelling but to be truthful the readers (they are to be praised for a magnificent read. They made us hate all the characters so much that we just had to know what motivated them) saved it from failure. The moral ambiguities that the story brings out are worthwhile to discuss, ie. Is the death penalty moral?” but the story doesn’t do it justice. The author definitely succeeded in forcing me to finish to find out what really happened but I felt (don’t want a spoiler here) the ending was somewhat non-believable. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the book but it was no, “Gone Girl”. When I finished the book, I realized that I didn’t “believe” any of the characters even though I knew them well. Was this Ms. Silver’s intent? I don’t think so. I think it is just a case of a first novel lack of depth. I know it’s not fair to compare but when I read a book like this (here I mean the author’s linguistic gymnastics), I’m forced to think of a book like “American Pastoral”. After all, we have to set the bar somewhere. When I think of the characters in Noa P, they are so anemic and thinly drawn that they disappear almost as quickly as the earplugs are out. During a talk to librarians on Youtube, Ms. Silver admitted getting the idea for the plot while taking a capital punishment course in law school but only began writing the book in earnest while she was working on a real life capital punishment case. That sounds about right to me; she was working out her own ambiguities of the issues in the case in fiction. The problem is that she had too much law and not enough character in the writing. Although she tries to describe the legal system objectivity, if she stays in the legal profession, I would be shocked. Her dislike of her chosen profession is so obvious. I think that is ultimately one of the flaws of the book. During due diligence of the revisiting of the case, the inadequacies of the trial are so numerous, that it’s hard to believe a death sentence makes any sense. I think Ms. Silver lucked out on getting such a boost of publicity. We were all “Jonesing” for the next “Gone Girl” and voila’ “Noa P appears. Great premise and potential and great marketing but ultimately the book doesn’t deliver. I have to place this book in the “a good quick summer read while waiting for the next really great book” category.
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