Playlist for the Dead
by Michelle Falkoff
Published: 29th January 2015
Publisher: Harper Collins
This is 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.
As he listens to song after song, Sam tries to face up to what happened the night Hayden killed himself. But only when he takes out his earbuds and opens his eyes to the people around him – including a complicated, secretive girl – will he be able to piece together Hayden’s story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.
I’d first heard of this book through a booktuber called Kassidy Voinche and she had received an ARC of this book. When she read the blurb and spoke a little about the concept of this book, my immediate thought was, ‘this sounds in a similar vein to Thirteen Reason’s Why by Jay Asher’. I really enjoyed that book, and I’ve been on the hunt for books with a similar premise since.
I added this to my wishlist, and waited for the release date. I was in Liverpool a little early for a meal I was going to so I popped into the huge Waterstones there and purchased it with a voucher I’d earned from them. I began reading it as soon as I got home, and basically needed to force myself to close the book to sleep. I raced through this novel and was a little sad to see it end.
As you can see from the blurb, the protagonist Sam loses his best friend, Hayden to suicide, and he receives a playlist that is supposed to help him understand his decision. I know it’s a very difficult and uncomfortable subject matter to read about but that is one of the reasons I love reading these types of novels. I think it’s important to have an understanding of what leads people to this decision, so that it can be prevented in reality. It is unfortunately, a topic that features in the news everyday and in most cases it could be prevented, so I appreciate that books like this can spread a greater awareness.
The plot of the book was gripping, and was at times very mysterious. I was happy with where the plot went, although I predicted the ending. I liked this book wasn’t extremely fast paced, as it really left time to relate to the character and his emotions following the death of this best friend. I loved getting to know this character and I found him I could identify with him, and so I was emotionally invested. This was a massive driving force in this novel. I really wanted to know what was going to happen to him, and also what happened to Hayden.
One aspect of this novel that stood out to me was the inclusion of music, through the playlist that Hayden left for Sam. Each chapter heading is a new song from the playlist. Each song in some way relates to the plot throughout the chapter. I loved that I knew most of the songs quite well, and also loved that I was introduced to new songs. I’d listen to the ones I didn’t know so I could understand the moment on a deeper level. I really recommend doing this!
Overall, I quite enjoyed this novel. I think the incorporation of music through the playlists, and the mystery involved created an engaging read, that I would recommend. Falkoff has delivered a brilliant debut novel, and I will look out for more of her work in the future.
I would recommend this book, and I think particularly if you enjoyed Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, you’ll enjoy this.