Book in Review: Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff10:41 AM
Author: Michelle Falkoff
Publishing Date: January 27th, 2015
Rating: 1/5 star
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.
This book compares itself to Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Tim Tharp's The Spectacular Now. These are really big claims, and I was at first skeptical, naturally, but in the end I decided to give this a try. While I did not exactly like The Spectacular Now all that much, I did adore Perks a lot, and so I had great expectations for this book. Sadly, it was so different from what I expected and I'm really really disappointed with how this book turned out.
It's sad because there isn't really anything in particular that I would want to point out or rant about with this book. I just felt so unattached to it, and the whole time I was reading this I just had this meh look on my face, like I totally did not care for the characters or the story at all. This book could have had really great potential but it so lacks the emotional depth that I was looking for. For a story that tackles themes of death, suicide and love, it really fell short for me.
From the title, I honestly thought that this book would center and revolve a lot on music as a clue to find out why Hayden killed himself. However, the music plays such an insubstantial role, if it has any role at all, and we find out in the end that the playlist doesn't actually have anything to do with Hayden's death. Really? So what was the point of the whole playlist anyway? And why do they make it out like it's such a big deal, by putting Playlist on the title? And it's not even for the dead anyway, it's just supposedly a playlist that explains Hayden's decision to kill himself - and then it actually doesn't. So what gives?
There are also a lot of storylines opened - a romance storyline, a mystery storyline, a coming-of-age storyline but they all remain messy and unresolved in the ending. The romance is a bit unnecessary and random for me, like I was okay with it, but I didn't really care about it all that much, and I didn't know what it's supposed to contribute to the overall plot. The mystery part is so strange and weird and all the paranormal ghost elements that are introduced at the beginning go nowhere and simply brushed off as Sam's imagination or something, in the end.
Hayden's reason for killing himself is never really discussed, and I find this a big problem. I have no problem with how the book portrays romantic relationships as this big life pursuit that is worth killing yourself for, but I needed an explanation or at least, a discussion, because this is pretty serious thing, and putting this in a novel entails some responsibility to the readers to at least clear up some of these issues.
What sucks about this book and why I'm only giving it one star is because I was kinda excited about it, and then I read it, and I wasn't anymore. I don't really care much for the story or the characters, and that's why this has a lower rating than other books that I hated, like really hated, because at least for those, I actually felt something for the book and had something ranty to say - but for this one, I'm literally at loss for words because that's how much this book didn't impact me.