Review: Playlist for the Dead


Title: Playlist for the Dead

Author: Michelle Falkoff

Publisher: HarperTeen

Publication date: January 27, 2015

Goodreads / Author’s twitter

I always love the idea of books that incorporate music, because I think music is so relatable to almost every reader. So I picked up Playlist for the Dead as part of my accidental teen-suicide-extravaganza. Anyway – unfortunately, this book fell a little short, in my opinion.

A summary from the HarperCollins website:

There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, Sam’s 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. To figure out what happened, Sam has to rely on the playlist and his own memory. But the more he listens, the more he realizes that his memory isn’t as reliable as he thought. And it might only be by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he’ll finally be able to piece together his best friend’s story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.

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.

When Sam’s best friend commits suicide, it comes as a major shock. The only thing he’s left is a playlist of songs. Each chapter title is a song on the playlist, and to make my reading experience more authentic, I listened to each song (on YouTube) as I read the chapter. It added a nice ambience to the story, though most songs were either too long or too short for the time it took to read the chapter, which was annoying but obviously an unsolvable issue (and I doubt anyone else would even care, other than me). Throughout the book, Sam investigates to try to figure out exactly what happened the night Hayden died and how to move on from there.

On a concept level, I really liked the idea of Playlist for the Dead. But the execution fell way short. Mostly because the main character in the story other than Sam was the textbook definition of a manic pixie dream girl. Such characters should have been banned from literature decades ago. Also, I feel like the conclusion of the book didn’t particularly solve anything. I just… didn’t buy into the emotion that was supposed to be happening, and I didn’t have any attachment to what was going on. If I can’t care about the characters, there’s no point in reading the book.

For creativity alone, I’ll give the book two stars. I think that there might be an audience out there for this type of novel, but there are so many other better books about suicide, especially in YA literature lately, that I remain distinctly unimpressed by this one.

2 out of 5 stars.



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