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85 of 104 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch out, Mr. Grisham...
... you have a hot new author, Elizabeth L. Silver, on your trail, and she takes no prisoners with her "can't put down" new book, "The Execution of Noa P. Singleton".

The book grips you from page one. It tells the tale of one Noa P. Singleton, a woman on death row for a killing. She is sardonic, immediately likable if not all together trustful or truthful...
Published 19 months ago by James Hiller

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287 of 310 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Like a myopic platypus eating an avocado on a Victorian carousel
Now, does that title make any sense whatsoever? Or does it seem like a series of words randomly strung together? (Hint: it's the latter.) Welcome to the world of first-time author Elizabeth L. Silver, who it seems never met a simile she didn't like.

Although this novel has an intriguing premise and was listed among Amazon's "Best Books of the Month" (a...
Published 15 months ago by DS from LA


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287 of 310 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Like a myopic platypus eating an avocado on a Victorian carousel, July 5, 2013
By 
DS from LA (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
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Now, does that title make any sense whatsoever? Or does it seem like a series of words randomly strung together? (Hint: it's the latter.) Welcome to the world of first-time author Elizabeth L. Silver, who it seems never met a simile she didn't like.

Although this novel has an intriguing premise and was listed among Amazon's "Best Books of the Month" (a testament more to the skill of Ms. Silver's publicist than to the taste of Amazon's editors), it is unfortunately an abject failure. Apart from the wholly unsatisfying nature of the rather ridiculous final "reveal" of the crime, the writing is painfully overblown, consisting of page after page strewn with awkward and often nonsensical similes. A few examples:

"Marlene twisted her neck like the top of a soda bottle opening." (Sounds like Marlene will be needing a chiropractor.)

"It's isolating, like a termite scuffling up your innards." (Huh?)

"The pearl of blood dripped onto the white duvet like a spot of chocolate." (Yum.)

"A pale rough armor covered his mouth like scales from a striated fish." (Try as I might, I just can't make a sensible mental picture of this.)

"A smirk seeped out between my lips like an unsuspecting belch." (I've never seen a smirk between someone's lips, nor do I have any idea what a belch might suspect or not suspect.)

"Thirteen individuals, marinating in the enclosed jury box like a carton of dried-out fruit." (Um, if it's marinating, it's not dried out.)

"His heart was too visible outside his garments, where it resided like lint on a week-old sweater." (Is there a different kind of lint on a two-week-old sweater? Though I suppose if your heart is visible outside of your garments, you've got a lot worse problems than lint.)

"His moans lubricated the phone lines like a sexually transmitted disease." (Oh, dear.... not just an STD, but a lubricating one.)

At times Ms. Silver appears unable (or unwilling) to decide which of her army of similes to use, so she just throws them all in: "The water felt so warm and soothing on its way down, like honey dripping from a cone. Like ice cream from a scoop. Like thick hot chocolate, gooey with melted marshmallows on its veneer." On other occasions, similes appear repetitively in consecutive sentences, such as the following trifecta: "My heart trilled like the swirling end of a violin solo. My mind circled like whirling dervishes. My eyes dried as if someone were blowing into them."

Sorry, Ms. Silver, but including "like" in the majority of your sentences doesn't make your novel "literary"... just tiresome.

Apart from the wholly excessive use of simile, many sentences use such clunky vocabulary and syntax that the reader is left scratching his or her head even after multiple readings:

"I noticed a shadow lurking on the corner, a diffident amalgamation of restraint and might all in the same amorphous splotch."

"I gave him one of those smiles you give when you are uncomfortable or when enough years have passed with an old acquaintance that you no longer have to say hello to anymore when you see him on the street."

"Whirls of tornadic subjugation seeped through the little holes of the telephone receiver." (WTF?)

If any of the above seems like good writing to you, by all means enjoy "The Execution of Noa P. Singleton." If not, save your money.
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88 of 92 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars terrible, July 18, 2013
By 
arabella (Washington State) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Execution of Noa P. Singleton: A Novel (Hardcover)
This book is so bad that it's astonishing that it was published, even these days. The author apparently has an MA in creative writing from England, which is also astonishing and very depressing. She uses hundreds and hundreds of awkward, clumsy similes until the reader wants to scream. The sun's "talons" point "like a strict schoolteacher;" clouds commune "like a collection of cotton balls in a tightly sealed ziplock bag" or have been "flattened out like a stack of pancakes" or have "been vaccinated with a syringe of rainy dye;" a convict dies "like the sizzling flicker of a fading lightbulb;" sneakers on a telephone wire "swayed over me like poisonous mistletoe;" a security camera "closed in on me like a furtive spectator;" a door closed "as if a director had slapped a clapboard;" her father has "a water bottle on his side like a colostomy bag," etc., etc., etc. Many of her images are ugly and/or inappropriate, and she doesn't even seem to know the meaning of many verbs and adjectives. Do publishing houses not employ editors any more? Silver's characters have no personality or emotions; she's just using them to push her plot, such as it is, laboriously forward. What a waste of ink, paper and time this book is.
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51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unreadable, July 27, 2013
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This review is from: The Execution of Noa P. Singleton: A Novel (Hardcover)
I expected to like this book, but couldn't get past the first few pages. The writing is horrifying, to the point where it's difficult to decipher the author's intention. The metaphors and similes are BAD. Word usage and even grammar are BAD. Other reviewers have provided many good examples.

Shame on Crown Publishers for letting this book out of the building and shame on Amazon for naming it the best book of the month.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Potentially interesting mystery gets bogged down in pretentious prose, July 25, 2013
This review is from: The Execution of Noa P. Singleton: A Novel (Hardcover)
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Elizabeth L. Silver's THE EXECUTION OF NOA P. SINGLETON has a great premise - thirty-five-year-old Noa is on death row for murder, with her execution date just six months away, when Marlene Dixon, the mother of her victim, shows up with a proposal. Marlene will use her influence to convince the State to commute Noa's sentence to life in prison in exchange for information on her daughter's murder. Why did Noa kill Sarah? What exactly happened on New Year's Day, 2003? Noa has never told her story - not to the press, not to her attorneys, and not in court. Noa can save her own life by revealing the truth behind Sarah's death. What should she do?

Great premise, yes, but the novel slogs along in its overwritten prose, dragging the reader through Noa's self-indulgent musings and her meandering metaphors, until the actual details of the plot (what happened the day Sarah died?) don't really matter. Silver's novel pretends to be "literature," rather than a Grisham-style legal thriller. She uses lots of big, pretentious words, shovels-full of metaphors, and convoluted sentences that require careful unraveling to make sense (and they don't always make sense, even with that effort). Noa, who narrates the novel, is clearly an educated woman, with a fine grasp of language, although it's often distracting wading through her clever verbiage and layered parentheticals. It's also odd that in spite of her knowledge of grammar and syntax, Noa has no idea how to use the word "cliché" - she makes the high-school mistake of using the noun as an adjective (i.e. "it was `cheesy, cliché, nauseating'").

If boiled down to its essence, Noa's story is both intriguing and compelling. Things happened to her in her childhood, during college, and in the months before the murder that do explain the death-row inmate in 2013. But so much of the story is buried under all the pretentious prose that it loses its impact by the end. I also found it impossible to believe that anyone could remember the specifics (including words spoken and things done) of something that happened when she was ten month's old. This little detail becomes important in events that happen to Noa later, but it stood out to me as jarringly incredible.

Additionally, there are italicized letters in this book, purportedly written by Marlene Dixon to her long-dead daughter, but they sound exactly like Noa's first-person narration (which presumably sounds exactly like Elizabeth Silver). Again, it was distracting. Were these supposed letters created by Noa (who was created by Silver)? The final letter suggests not. But Marlene and Noa use the same convoluted style of expression, the same over-reliance on metaphor and parentheticals. It's frustratingly confusing.

Overall, THE EXECUTION OF NOA P. SINGLETON does deliver a satisfying and believable dénouement, and the final act makes some sort of odd, if convoluted, sense. But reading this novel is exhausting. If lines like "It's isolating, like a termite scuffling up your innards" and "My eyes pickpocketed the room" are your cup of tea, then you might enjoy this novel. I, on the other hand, kept wondering how a scuffling termite (in my innards?) was "isolating," which tended to get in the way of the story itself. This one didn't work for me.
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65 of 75 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Page-Turner But Something is Missing, April 9, 2013
This review is from: The Execution of Noa P. Singleton: A Novel (Hardcover)
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The Execution of Noa P. Singleton is a novel about a woman sitting on death row, awaiting her demise. Once a very accomplished scholar - salutatorian of her high school and with a full scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania - she left college after one semester. Noa is accused of killing a woman named Sarah, her father's girlfriend. Throughout the trial, Noa said not one word in her defense.

Ironically, Sarah's mother, a vile and manipulative woman, starts an agency called MAD - Mother's Against Death, and offers to help Noa appeal her death sentence in exchange for life imprisonment. She has an assistant who works closely with Noa and Noa's life emerges in the course of the book, leading up to the point of the crime.

The book is a page-turner but there is something missing. I was not excited by the goings on and did not feel like I really knew Noa despite the ten years that she languished in prison and her life story that she tells to the attorney. We learn about her father who deserted her when she was an infant and is now in contact with her. He owns a bar called Bar Dive and has worked the twelve steps to become straight and clean. Noa's mother is a failed community theater actress who neglected Noa for much of Noa's youth.

The story flows but does not excel. There are no grand disclosures or mountains that made my heart leap, nor did I get any special moral or ethical messages from the writing. What I got was a page-turner that was interesting to read and kept my attention for two days.
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45 of 53 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A rating of two stars is probably one star too many, June 29, 2013
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This review is from: The Execution of Noa P. Singleton: A Novel (Hardcover)
I really wanted to like this book, because I believe in supporting debut novels. So I'm giving this book two stars because I'm sure Silver was really, really trying. But I'm at 268/308, and I honestly don't care how the book ends. Silver's writing is stunningly bad, completely distracting from everything else she's trying to do. At this point in the book I can only laugh out loud at her tortured metaphors. On just about every page are sentences that sound like candidates for the Bulwer-Lytton contest.

"I do sit alone, sometimes, wondering whether the clouds are gathering together, communing like a collection of cotton balls in a tightly sealed ziplock bag, or whether they've been flattened out like a stack of pancakes. Or if they've been vaccinated with a syringe of rainy dye so that only a select few darken into grays, blacks, and charcoals." OMG.

"Madison McCall tried unsuccessfully to throw out my interrogation, but only after an intestinal road of paperwork throwing around words like Miranda and police misconduct." What does this sentence even mean?

"My bladder was full, my eyes were leaking, my pores were leaking, but none of them could move." Huh?

"His heart was too visible outside his garments, where it resided like lint on a week-old sweater." No comment required.

"It was an anomalous Tuesday night in 2002 when the phone calls started. For over a week...my apartment became a torrent of moral decay. ... Whirls of tornadic subjugation seeped through the little holes of the telephone receiver..."

Almost worse than her writing is the fact that she can thank "the team at Crown" for all their help, including her "fiercely kind" editor Christine Kopprasch (this book had an editor!?) and the rest of them for their "creative and inventive marketing and publicity." Yeah, thanks loads for suckering me into buying this thing, including AMAZON who made this an Amazon Best Book of the Month for June. Wow, June must be one terrible month for book publishing.

I'm not simply mocking or having fun at the expense of a debut novel. I respect this woman's effort. What insults me is the aggressive professional marketing this thing has received. The quotations from the "editorial reviews" here at Amazon are simply over-the-top. Call me naïve, but this kind of marketing is dishonest and wrong, and it disrespects readers who buy these books IN GOOD FAITH with hard-earned $$ (not to mention spending our hard-earned reading time as well).

P.S. I finished the book. Not surprisingly, Silver never stops with the metaphors, my favorite near the end being the gun resting on the table, "almost like a scared puppy during a thunderstorm. . . my gun by congenital defect. . . ." Don't ask, because I have no idea what that means.

Yeah, the rating of two stars is one too many, so I'm bumping it down to one star.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to simile/metaphor hell, August 9, 2013
By 
kidsncatsndogs (Stamford, CT United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Execution of Noa P. Singleton: A Novel (Hardcover)
Allow me to quote from the first paragraph of the first page of Chapter 1: "Oliver trotted eagerly in first, like a wet surfer trying desperately not to miss his second wave. He had thin brown hair that hung limply around the cherry contour of his face in a style that was probably at least a decade behind the times...A lone dimple nicked the center of his chin in a clean gunshot."

If you find the above unbearable, don't read this book, because the tortured prose just goes on and on. I stupidly persisted despite that the "what the hell?" reaction prompted by that paragraph, and the payoff was not worth the painful journey. I have to wonder why the author's editor didn't excise the nonsensical word salad (though perhaps, as horrifying as it is to contemplate, perhaps the novel in its current state is actually the result of ruthless editing). Did the editor suffer from early onset Alzheimers? Was he or she a close relative? Half-assing one last manuscript before shuffling off to retirement? I guess we'll never know.
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85 of 104 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch out, Mr. Grisham..., March 28, 2013
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This review is from: The Execution of Noa P. Singleton: A Novel (Hardcover)
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... you have a hot new author, Elizabeth L. Silver, on your trail, and she takes no prisoners with her "can't put down" new book, "The Execution of Noa P. Singleton".

The book grips you from page one. It tells the tale of one Noa P. Singleton, a woman on death row for a killing. She is sardonic, immediately likable if not all together trustful or truthful (after all, she is on death row). She meets a new lawyer, Oliver Stansted, who convinces her he might have the key her life, if only she opens up about what really happened on the night of the killing. Enter Marlene Dixon, and things get really interesting.

I don't want to reveal too many spoilers in this review, for Silver has penned quite an amazing roller coaster ride of family dynamics, deceptions, games, and death. The most important accomplishment in her book is her characterization of Noa. As she tells her story, she becomes a very real person. There are scenes, particularly between her and her estranged father, that were so well-written that I felt like I was watching it on a movie scene. Silver has a talent for dialogue, tension, and captures the voice of Noa so wonderfully that its a wonder this is her first book.

By the time the novel ends, you are utterly exhausted, and amazed that you sped through her first book so quickly. Fans of mysteries, fans of murder, fans of great fictions, put this book on the top of your reading list immediately. You will not regret one minute you spend with Noa.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Completely unbelievable., January 1, 2014
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This review is from: The Execution of Noa P. Singleton: A Novel (Hardcover)
Like many others, I was prepared to love this book, Also like many others I was extremely disappointed. Other reviewers have detailed the painful reading of the mess of metaphors & similes that Ms. Silver slings around like corned beef hash by a drunken short order cook, so I won't repeat them here. But what annoyed me most was just unbelievable this whole thing was.

Noa was portrayed as highly intelligent and focused on her future in spite of being the neglected child of a whack-a-doodle mother and a deserting father she never knew. So far so good. But once that's established, her subsequent actions are completely contrary to what I think a young, smart, forword-looking girl would do. Quitting college in her first semester? Getting hired as a teacher though she never even graduated from college (ever hear of employment verification?)? The inexplicable loyalty toward her father, who inserts himself back into her life when she's 23? And ditto for the crazy-ass Marlene, who is a seeming super-power in her ability to bully and control virtually all of the other characters with her threats. I can't believe that no one, in her circle of professional and personal friends (including her husband) noticed that she was completely off the rails. The young lawyer Oliver Stansted, who Marlene hires to relaunch Noa's appeals a few months before her execution date, seems to have some promise. But after uncovering quite a bit of startling information, never makes the connection that SOMETHING IS REALLY REALLY WRONG HERE and instead scuttles back to England when Marlene threatens him.

But the most laughable part of this tale is the complete joke the trial was that convicted Noa. I mean come on: when was the last time you heard of a trial where the defendent's former KINDERGARTEN classmates are called to testify about her evil nature just because she thumped them when they were 5 years old?? And the blunders made by the supremely incompetent defense team were too egregious to swallow, not to mention all of the wild & weak arguments the prosecution threw around. My suspension of disbelief just isn't strong enough to overcome this, even though I know that our legal system and courts have problems.

The ending was a confused non-event. I never did learn just why Noa killed Sarah. With everything else going on in that scene, why was the gun even put into play?

The only good thing about this book is that I borrowed it from my local library, and didn't shell out any money for it.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Quite possibly the worst book I have ever read, July 29, 2013
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This review is from: The Execution of Noa P. Singleton: A Novel (Hardcover)
I looked forward to reading this book. I wish I had read the negative reviews first. I was prepared for the fact that this book would not end happily. I was not prepared for the awkward metaphors and plodding style. Writing was like something from a high school literary effort and the plot was implausible. Don't waste your time.
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The Execution of Noa P. Singleton: A Novel
The Execution of Noa P. Singleton: A Novel by Elizabeth L. Silver (Hardcover - June 11, 2013)
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