31 Days to Live was released on November 15th 2015, it’s described by the author as New Adult, that genre is an offshoot of Young Adult, which focuses on the 18-30 year old demographic as opposed to the 12-18 year old age bracket. It deals with Kamel Johnson, a teenager who is tasked with solving a murder that happened in Brooklyn, he has 31 days to solve the crime. That’s just a little bit of background information about 31 Days to Live by Lorenzo Dozier, now on to the actual review.
Being 100% honest the opening to this story didn’t really grab me, it felt a little too clunky but the core premise was enticing enough to push past it and I’m glad that I did.
The narrative structure is rough, but it’s backed up by an engaging story, and it’s easily understandable that as a first time author their would be issues, so I’m willing to overlook them. Something that does ring true though is the voice of the author, I’m not sure how old he was when he wrote this but he accurately wrote a teenage character, so often when adults write books, they forget what it was like to be young and have teenagers saying and doing things that are just unrealistic, take John Green for example, a phenomenally talented writer but his younger characters don’t sound or act like kids really, but Lorenzo has managed to capture a certain honestly in his writing of his characters particularly his teenage lead Kamel.
Pacing is an issue at the start, as I said up top it could feel clunky at times but once the story gets going in earnest it’s actually difficult to put down.
The biggest problem with this story is just a matter of inexperience but I can easily see him continuing to grow as a writer and becoming successful. After reading this I’m eager to read his second novel, to see how far he’s come already and I suggest you do as well.
A strong point for Lorenzo is that he has a distinct style, one which favours the type of story he’s trying to tell, it’s funny and engaging and honestly it rings true. I thoroughly enjoyed the opening moments where Kamel spends time with his family, it’s rich in the familiar interactions that anyone with siblings has experiences or anyone with a mother than thinks she knows best.
Without the prologue, the first section of this novel could easily feel disjointed from the later sections, but a lot of good stories start with the mundane, only to shove the character into the midst of the conflict. As I mentioned earlier the story does feel a little clunky to begin with but again you have to make allowances for a first time writer.
A lot of times with stories dealing with crime, thrillers and the like, they contrive a reason for why the character won’t or can’t get the police involved, or in the case of the character being law enforcement why they can’t involve the rest of the force, in the case of Kamel, Lorenzo does a good job of showing a character impulsive enough to leap into things, smart enough to assume he can solve his own problems and so it’s easily believable that despite threats against himself and those he cares about that he’d stick it out on his own.
Anyway despite some teething problems 31 Days to Live presents an interesting story from a first time author and if you are willing to overlook some issues then you’ll be in for an enjoyable story. I give this book a 3/5.
First Published on: https://offtherecordblog.org