Title: Playlist for the Dead
Author: Michelle Falkoff
Genre: Young Adult | Contemporary
Synopsis: 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.
Final Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Trigger Warning: Suicide / Bullying
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I won an ARC copy in an Epic Reads giveaway. I am grateful I received this copy and got to read this book for free, even though I had wanted to read it well before it was released.
On the back, the synopsis says that this book is perfect for fans of The Perks of Being a Wallflower and the Spectacular Now. Now, for those of you that don’t know me at all, tPBW is probably one of my favorite books of all time, and I jump at the chance to pick up anything that might be similar, because unfortunately, Stephen Chbosky doesn’t really have any other novels.
This was nothing like Perks. The tone was different, the plot was different, the characters were different, the setting was different. Nothing was similar. Now, I don’t mean to offend the person who wrote the synopsis at all, but this is a serious question: what kind of crack were you on?
I didn’t go into this book with a lot of expectations, because I had heard mixed feelings regarding it. I don’t usually pay a lot of attention to “why-I-committed-suicide” books because for the most part, they deal with a very sensitive, very real issue disgustingly. Suicide is not something that should be glamorized. Nor is it something that should be trivialized. And writing about suicide, the reasons behind a suicide and the events leading up to a suicide is a tough job, and if you can’t pull it off, I’d rather you didn’t write about it. I dislikedThirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher beyond words because it was distasteful. I disliked this book because the very real theme of suicide took a back-seat for the most part, and I don’t think it was dealt with nearly as well as it should have been.
Hayden has committed suicide, and that is apparent from the first two pages. He has left behind a playlist for his best friend, Sam, that may lead to Sam understanding the reasons behind Hayden killing himself. I think the premise of this novel is great. I think if it was conducted properly and sensitively, it would have been something phenomenal. But that’s all there was. I had several issues.
1) Like I mentioned before, the suicide aspect took a complete back-seat when Sam becomes interested in a girl. Instead of a novel revolving around a young man losing his best friend, and dealing with the heavy weight of losing someone so close, it reads a lot like a mystery novel. It’s a whydunit rather than a sensitive, meaningful novel. When Astrid comes into the story, Sam becomes obsessed with her, and it’s insta-love and oh-she’s-great and who-the-hell-was-Hayden. I didn’t like that.
2) Not only that, but Hayden’s reasons for committing suicide were very unrealistic. Okay, please don’t roll your eyes because everybody has their own reasons for feeling the way that they do, and it’s ridiculous to say someone else has it worse because pain thresh-hold is subjective and it’s a real thing and YES, I completely agree. But suicide is a serious, painful thing. Someone’s life gets so shiity, so completely hopeless and lightless that they would rather die than live another second of it. That is the reality of suicide, is it not? I think it’s rather distasteful to trivialize someone committing suicide because his/her brother was mean, or because something didn’t work about with a girl.
3) The actual plot flew by, but the things that needed to be toned down were dragged. The stuff that needed to be fleshed out was too fleeting. Everything was wrapped up too quickly. The tip of the plot needed to be expanded on, but it seemed as if Falkoff wanted to just wash her hands of the story.
I didn’t like any of the characters, and by that, I mean none of them. None of them. The main character annoyed the crap out of me. He was whiny and horrendously judgmental. The love interest was one-dimensional, and the only thing I know about her is that she dresses in a very unique way. The bullies were crappy and uninteresting. The parents were barely there. Just… ugh.
And the character ‘development’ happened way too fast. Way, way too fast. Nobody changes that much overnight.
Overall, I think this is a book that can be read for entertainment purposes only. I didn’t think it was meaningful or touching. I didn’t think it dealt with the subject as it should have. And the characters did nothing for me. But if you’re into these kind of books, and if suicide doesn’t strike a chord deep within you like it does with me, go ahead and give it a go.
Would I recommend? Maybe if you like Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Maybe.