Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Review: Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff

Title: Playlist for the Dead
Author: Michelle Falkoff
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: HarperTeen via Edelweiss

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.
Review by Nara

Man, I really struggled to rate this one! I constantly hovered over 3 or 4 stars (4 or 5 blog stars), not sure whether I wanted to be harsher or more generous. To be honest, even at the last second before publishing this post, I decided to bump the rating up on the generous side.

Playlist for the Dead was certainly an impressive debut, with a strong narrative voice and an excellent coming of age arc. Not going to lie, what first drew me to the book was the title- you know it's going to be a darker, feels-inducing tale when the book has "dead" in the title. The premise though: main character Sam struggling to accept his best friend Hayden's suicide through a playlist that Hayden has left him. Pretty unique. Although technically speaking, the playlist is for the living, rather than the dead.

I do have to say that some of the characters were on the cliched side, and it was difficult to appreciate the development of others, in that they seemed to change too quickly, or things seemed a little unresolved, or we just didn't get enough of the character. I suppose that was okay though; even in real life, it might be hard to appreciate these things.

I actually didn't listen to the songs on the playlist while reading, and had only heard of a few of them. So perhaps I wasn't quite as immersed in the world as I could have been, had I bothered to Youtube them or something. As it was though, I could definitely still empathise with Sam- he was a flawed but sympathetic character and, you know, male perspective is always a bonus in contemporary YA.

I'd definitely recommend this book to someone looking for a bit of a darker read touching on all sorts of serious issues.

Really liked it
Overall: 8/10
Plot: 4/5
Romance: 3.5/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 3/5
Cover: 3/5