Expected Publication: January 27th, 2015
Playlist for the Dead
By: Michelle Falkoff
A teenage boy tries to understand his best friend's suicide by listening to the playlist of songs he left behind in this smart, voice-driven debut novel.
Here's what Sam knows: There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, his best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs, and a suicide note: For Sam -- listen and you'll understand.
As he listens to song after song, Sam tries to face up to what happened the night Hayden killed himself. But it's only by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he will finally be able to piece together his best friend's story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.
I can hear you all speaking to me as a reader, asking me the same question: "Why bother reading this?" I'm sure it sounds like a rehash and one of the reviews I've read compares it to 13 Reasons Why and that's the one I was thinking of after I'd read the synopsis. It seemed like a substitution at first glance, with the tape scavenger hunt being replaced by a paltry music playlist. It turned out to be more than that, at least for me personally. I thought that the relationship between Sam and Hayden was very realistically portrayed. Your best friend is the person you think you know the best out of everyone and the one who knows YOU best. That doesn't mean they're the person you're necessarily the nicest too, or the one you stick up for the most. Friendship, just like every other realtionship in our lives as people, is imperfect and has the potential to be ugly. I was glad that Falkoff didn't shy away from that in this novel.
When we meet Sam, his best friend Hayden has just committed suicide, after a particularly disastrous encounter with his bullies (including his own brother) at a party they went to, that Hayden had convinced Sam to attend. All Sam has now is a playlist of songs that's supposed to explain everything and a very uncomforting note. He listens to the playlist and tries to understand, but some songs have stories behind them, while others he's never heard before. It's basically a survivor's journey of figuring out there will never really be a satisfactory explanation for his friend's choice to die, he didn't know everything about Hayden like he thought he did, and that sometimes to move on, you have to accept the world's truths in ways you never expected. I did feel that the secondary characters left something to be desired, especially the whole "romance" with Astrid, who was basically using Sam to play out her own revenge fantasies. But he does learn that there is life after Hayden, which is the most important message in any book about suicide. By no means a perfect narrative or characters, but an emotionally powerful one all the same, with a great sense of self and human nature.
VERDICT: 4/5 Stars
**I reviewed this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book's expected publication date is January 27th, 2015.**