The Score – Book Review

The Score by Kiki Swinson
Pages: 368
Published Date: January 26, 2015
African American Fiction | Urban Literature | Thriller | 


 Confession 1: I don’t normally read books are categorized as “Urban Literature”. In fact, I will admit when it comes to the “Urban Literature” subcategory of African-American fiction I discriminate, hard. 


 Confession 2: I have called “Urban Literature” several names including “Hood Lit”. 


Kiki Swinson’s The Score was my first swim in the Urban Lit category in years, close to decade. I swore off the genre after trying to read Candy Licker by Noire. I tried to read Family Business by Carl Weber and Eric Pete a roughly two years ago for my book club. I didn’t have high expectations for Family Business from the start and quit before the halfway point. This background in important because I tried to wipe my previous failed Urban Lit experiences from my mind and read The Score without bias. And I also tried to start the book with the same expectations I have for any other book, I will enjoy myself.

Did I enjoy The Score?
Yes, I did.

My enjoyment of The Score stems from thriller/action elements present in the novel. Readers are introduced to Lauren, a woman that excels at card credit and identity theft. Lauren, Matt (her boyfriend), and Yancy hit on a big break at the start of the book. Add a love triangle going on between Lauren, Matt, and Yancy the first couple of chapters pull in the reader. The alternating view points of Lauren and Matt almost every chapter let readers get to know them both characters. And the flashback provided insight on their past and what led them to commit identity thief.

Elements that keep the book interesting at first became tiresome after awhile. The Score offers glimpse into Matt and Lauren’s past via flash back. Every chapter would have a flashback to an experience in either Matt or Lauren’s past. Readers learn the bulk of Lauren and Matt’s romantic history with each other via flashback. Matt fall from a successful drug dealer to a credit card scammer via flashback. How Matt and Lauren add Yancy to their operation through a flashback. The flashback stopped being entertaining and felt like filler about halfway through the novel. Some of the flashback were repetitive, I got tired of hearing about how Lauren’s mom abandoned her children after the third reference. Some of the flashbacks were unnecessary and happened at inappropriate times and the transition to the flashbacks weren’t always smooth. A couple transition flashback almost read like “That reminds me of the time this happened.”


 Confession 3) I am not a fan of first person narrative. 


The Score is in first person narrative. Kiki Swinson pulled it off. Both Matt and Lauren had very clear voices and I never once forgot which character was telling the story. Also, I never was tired from being in the characters head all the time. Partly because equal time spent was reflecting on what was happening/happened to them and actually doing something. Matt and Lauren were active the whole book and the times spent inactive were interrupted with drama.

Part of the downfall of The Score being in first person is I ended up having no sympathy for Lauren and Matt. Overall, they weren’t likable characters and rather than finding myself rooting for their success I rooted for their downfall. Unsympathetic characters may be something unique to Urban Literature but it’s not something I come across often in fiction. Especially, characters who don’t redeem themselves at all by the end of the book. Every little to no character growth for both Matt and Lauren.

The Score suffer from when bad endings happen to decent book syndrome. The last scene was a clear setup for a second book. It had a thrown in at the last minute quality. It was so sloppy I couldn’t suspend my disbelief for even a minute that the event in the last chapter was plausible, Until the last scene I had been enjoying myself and even getting over the fact that not everyone got what they deserved.
Overall, I enjoyed The Score by Kiki Swinson. It made me rethink my position on Urban Lit books and I might open my “To Be Read List” for other titles in the genre.



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