ARC, 279 pages
Release Date: January 27, 2015
Published by: HarperTeen
For fans of: Contemps, Romance, Music
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.
As contemps are my favorite genre, I knew that this was a must read. Even more so because it wasn't just a cute, fluffy one, but one about something much deeper.
"Look, it's true that I think there are a lot of people to blame for all this, but I'm one of them. [...] And it's not my job to decide who should pay."
Hayden and Sam have it hard. Not only are they bullied by outsiders, but the bullies that target them are actually Hayden's brothers and his friends. There's really no escaping them. Hayden eventually has enough and commits suicide. Sam is upset deeply by it, as it is him who finds his body, but starts to question everything he knows about Hayden. He finds a playlist with Hayden along with a weird note.
"They'd never deserved him, his family."
What I liked most about this book was the mystery aspect. There is someone going around and hurting the people that wronged Hayden. But the cool part is the way it's written. I can't tell you exactly how without giving away spoilers, but the way it all ties in, is really interesting. The culprit who is behind it isn't easy to figure out wither. This does bring light to all the people who wronged him. Everyone that should have been on his side turned bad in some way. For awhile I was hating that there were only a few people in the book that WASN'T a cruel person. It made me really question kids and their motives. In the end, I couldn't guess who the culprit was because it was the person I most expected. It's funny how that never really works out lol
"For a guy with one friend, his funeral was pretty ccrowded."
I also liked Falkoff's writing style. I haven't read too many books from a boy's POV, but this one seemed solid. Especially since Sam was so hurt. He was such an open, honest character and I felt so bad for him. Her writing really made me want to swallow him in a hug!
"[...] I hadn't factored in that everyone has a breaking point."
The thing that brought this book over the top for me was the playlist. Most of the songs were new to me so I went ahead and listened to some of them while I read the chapter it went with. It really tied the story together and heleped me match some of the events up with things that happen in the chapter and then in the song. I felt that it really connected me to the story.
"[He] was a lot smarter than people gave him credit for wasn't he? [...] Nice that someone finally got it. "Way smarter.'"
Bullying is still happening out there and things like this fictional story happen entirely too much. What happened with Hayden could happen to anyone that we know and that's pretty scary. This book features a relevant topic in a way that will leave any music/book lover satisfied.