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The 25th Hour by David Benioff

February 15, 2014


Tomorrow, Montgomery Brogan goes away to start his seven-year prison sentence at Otisville Federal Prison. A young, brash, likable, good-looking guy who probably had the potential to do a lot of things found success dealing drugs. Then he was ratted out. The cops showed up and knew exactly where to look, finding a stash of dope in his sofa. On this, Montgomery’s last night of freedom, there’s a party in his honor, and we meet everyone who has played a role, for better or worse, in Monty’s life.

This is a novel about an in-between—after the crime, after the sentencing, before the punishment. After the high life, before the brutality of prison life. Much of it exists in moments of contemplation, taking stock in past decisions imagining the tough road ahead. There are moments of levity, but all are overshadowed by Monty’s approaching moment of reckoning.

There are so many ways this book could have been bad—overly dramatic, unbelievable, boring. But it is none of those things. It moves along well and Benioff keeps it masterfully tuned in right where it needs to be. Although I could see someone arguing that “nothing really happens,” it’s about what has and will happen. Without a moment of heavy-handedness, it is a gritty, pitch-perfect story about decisions and their consequences.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 27, 2014 9:04 am

    I watched the movie when it first came out and loved every minute of it and Edward Norton was brilliant. Would be interesting to read the book that it was based on to experience how those different moments played out in writing.


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