Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff
Release Date: January 27th 2015 by HarperTeen
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
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.
Part mystery, part love story, and part coming-of-age tale in the vein of Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Tim Tharp’s The Spectacular Now, Playlist for the Dead is an honest and gut-wrenching first novel about loss, rage, what it feels like to outgrow a friendship that’s always defined you—and the struggle to redefine yourself. But above all, it’s about finding hope when hope seems like the hardest thing to find.
When I first read the synopsis for this book, it both turned me on and off. As a lover of music in general, I wholly appreciate books that incorporate musical elements to further enhance their stories; so you can kind of see this book is right up my alley. But here’s the thing though: it’s a book about suicide. Personally, the topic of taking your own life makes me uncomfortable. Anyway, that’s just me.
I guess I wanted closure, but I was never going to get it, because the only person who could tell me why things had gone down the way they did was dead.
Playlist follows Sam and the aftermath of his best friend Hayden’s sudden death. All Hayden left for him was a playlist and a note saying that the songs will shed light on his suicide. I thought naming each chapter after the songs was clever; it also intensified the overall mood of the novel. I have to say though, in the last few chapters the songs were kind of neglected and they didn’t really sink in with what was happening in the book.
As for the characters, I found Sam to be extremely angsty, and I know I can’t fault him for that since he’s still in the grieving phase. I just wished it was toned down a little, you know?
And then there’s Astrid. She reminds me of Cassidy Thorpe from The Beginning of Everything; she’s there but at the same she isn’t. Her character didn’t really win any points from me mostly because of her mysterious nature. (By the way, did you notice how they’re named after the Gone characters? #weirdcoincidencemoment)
Overall, it was a pretty decent read. Don’t let my verdict fool you though; this book was really something. But as much as it made a huge impact on me, I think I won’t be looking back on this book. I am looking forward though on hearing more from this author as she clearly has some more stories to tell.
*Quote(s) are subject to change in the final version of the book.
**An advance copy was provided in exchange for an honest review. This has not affected my overall thoughts.