January 27, 2015
Goodreads | Amazon
“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.PLAYLIST FOR THE DEAD is a very different and interesting real life read. Michelle Falkoff provides a song at the beginning of every chapter which helps set the mood and give the reader more insight to the story. Because this book is centered around the playlist Hayden left for Sam, it was great that Falkoff provided the title and artist for every single song so that you are able to listen along. In a way, this makes the book interactive, which instantly adds positive points for creativity. Listening to each track as it coincides with the chapter really helped me immerse myself in the story. While most of the songs fit the chapters perfectly, there were a few that fell flat. Chapter 18 had the absolute best song/chapter combination. It was so beautiful, and I honestly think if I had simply read the chapter without the music I would not have enjoyed it as much.
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.”
The characters were not very memorable. I never found myself attached or really even just liking any of them. Because Sam's best friend killed himself, I was ready to see some new relationships form, but this never happened. I do wish Sam's mother had played a tad bit of a bigger part too. She seemed like she genuinely cared about Sam, despite how busy she was trying to raise a family. At one point though, Sam had a black eye, and even though there were interactions between him and his mom during this time, Sam's mom never noticed his eye at all. No matter how much a mother is rushing around, I think she would notice if her son had a black eye.
Quite a few readers do consider PLAYLSIT FOR THE DEAD to be somewhat of a mystery. I would not categorize it as this. Throughout the book, there are big questions such as why Hayden killed himself, why was the only thing he left behind a playlist, and what is happening to his brother and brother's best friends, but there is no suspense or mystery about it. In fact, not all of the questions are even answered. We do find out why Hayden committed suicide and what is going on with his brother, but as to why he left the playlist for Sam to find? No clear answer is ever given, and this drove me crazy. I was also not satisfied when I found out what was going on with Hayden's brother and best friends. The ending with the big reveal felt very rushed, awkward, and weird. It seemed like the author had built up all of these questions, but then did not know how to answer them, so she just threw some stuff at the reader and called it good.
All in all, reading PLAYLIST FOR THE DEAD is not a waste of time; however, if you are looking for a book that is going to leave an impression on you and make you feel satisfied, you may want to find something different. If you do pick this book up, I highly suggest listening along to the songs as you read the chapters. The accompanying music is what made me enjoy PLAYLIST FOR THE DEAD. I did create a playlist on Spotify. All the songs are on it in the order they appear if you would like to listen. It can be found here: https://play.spotify.com/user/1289125679/playlist/6niZG9X9UebubOSNPMwPHP.
Interested to see my reactions as I read the book?