Saturday, July 24, 2021

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars 
Pages: 248 pages
Published: August 2020

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi was the pre-selected read for my in-person book club in July. This book was also a Book of the Month selection last year. However, I did not choose it then. But because book club does what it does best - motivates me to read something I normally wouldn't read on my own, I got an electronic copy from my local library and started the journey in advance of our monthly meeting. And I am glad I did. 

This is a book that begins with the end. The audience knows what is going to happen by the book's title. The story, of course, begins and is centered around its titular character - Vivek Oji - who has died a mysterious death. The remainder of the relatively short book flashes back, and the author crafts a beautifully written tale that circles back to where the book begins. I read this book in a couple of days, and I found that the author has a talent for writing. They* uses effective turns of phrase to illustrate not only the plot but also the emotions of the characters. My major issue with this book was some of the vastly undeveloped points within the overall plot. Emezi also introduced some characters and ideas that were not fully expounded upon (e.g., Vivek's aunt and the relationship with the church). 

The pain was still too personal, the information too new. Juju wanted to hold it, cup it in her hands a while longer before she uncurled her fingers to expose it to others.

I think this book had a good premise, it wasn't fully thought out. Just shy of 250 pages, Emezi certainly had more space to flesh out some of the concepts. Because this book is about identity and being given the space to be who you are, you would think they would have done the same in crafting the story. 

Recommendation: This may not be popular opinion, but I think, sometimes, creators can fixate on an issue that is prevalent in current culture thinking it will automatically be a success by the very nature of the topic. However, as an avid reader and part-time writer, the craft still has to be solid to merit success. I am lukewarm about this book. I wouldn't say I don't recommend this book, but I wouldn't necessarily highly recommend it either. However, I would read another book by this author.  

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful. 

*Akwaeke Emezi uses the pronouns they/them/theirs.


Post a Comment