Book Review: Lola on Fire by Rio Youers

  Lola On Fire  by Rio Youers Genre:  Crime thriller Synopsis:   Brody Ellis is short on luck and even shorter on cash to buy the medi...


Lola On Fire by Rio Youers

Genre: Crime thriller

Brody Ellis is short on luck and even shorter on cash to buy the medication his sister, Molly, needs. Desperate, he robs a convenience store, but on the way out, he bumps into a young woman and loses his wallet. Just when he expects the cops to arrive, the phone rings. It’s Blair Mayo - the woman he bumped into - and she’s got the missing billfold. Brody will get it back, but only if he does her a favor: steal her late mother’s diamonds from her wicked stepmom. But when he gets to the house, he finds a gruesome crime scene - and a security camera. Brody knows he’s been framed.
Back home, the terrified young man gets another call. The police won’t get the incriminating video footage, Blair says. Instead, her daddy, the notorious mobster Jimmy Latzo, will exact his own kind of revenge. Brody and Molly realize that they’ve become pawns in a mysterious game - one that involves a notorious enforcer named Lola Bear who brutally crossed paths with Jimmy Latzo 26 years before...a ghost from the past who is intimately connected to their lives.

Content/Trigger Warnings: Violence, animal cruelty/death, ableism

Overall rating:  ★★★☆☆

I'm not sure what I expected when I went into Lola On Fire. In fact, I'm not sure I'd even read the description prior to reading. I think maybe I just saw the cover and requested it on Netgalley. But the intro was super high intensity and the book had a really great storyline that I wasn't anticipating.

Based on the intro and the title, I really expected the novel to more closely follow Lola Bear, but she's not at all the focus of the story. Instead the story focused on a younger male, one that’s scared and unsure but also loves big and will do anything he can to keep his sister safe.

"Every time I stick someone up, [...] you can see 'em weighing up their chances. As if having no legs makes a bullet slower."

Though the story really begins with a prologue of Lola kicking ass and taking names, it then switches to the storyline with Brody where he’s robbing a convenience store to get money that will help him pay for his sister’s medicine. It’s a classic scenario of the Heinz Dilemma. Is it unethical to steal something that is saving a life? During his big criminal experience, he loses his wallet, leading to a big blackmailing scheme that sets up the rest of the book.

I enjoyed the book. It was written well and I really liked the plot. As mentioned, I expected the story to follow a different character, but I have a certain soft spot for stories that start conversations about the inaccessibility of life-giving medications.

I found Brody to be pretty damn annoying, but I also appreciated that he was really just a “normal guy” trying to help out his sister when he’s thrown into a situation that no regular person would know how to handle.

My biggest complaint is the intense amount of gun violence. Like, it’s a lot. I understand it in many forms of entertainment but this was my first time really being like “damn, is there this much shooting in other forms of media?!”. So I think it could’ve been just as good with less guns.

Overall though, it was a good and exciting story.

*I received a copy of this book free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are entirely my own.

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