Review: Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff

17838490 Genre: YA Contemporary
Published: January 27, 2015 by HarperTeen
Length: 288 pages
Source: HarperTeen (ARC)

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.”


Playlist for the Dead was a good read, but I think it could have been way better. The storyline could have been improved because the first 60% of the book was dragging. I feel like the author was putting filler scenes at times which made me a bit bored. There is mystery in this book which made me keep on reading, but after a while, the mystery part of the book got boring because I could kind of see where the story was heading to. This book is told in first person p.o.v. by our main character Sam. His best and only friend, Hayden, commits suicide, and he tries to find out why. The only clue he has is this playlist Hayden left behind for him.

Sam was a likable protagonist. His character was very realistic and I like how he tries to be open minded. The character development was very slow though. The love interest, Astrid, was okay. I wish there was more background and character development in her part. I feel like the author was trying to get there, but then cut it short. I felt the same way with the other characters such as Eric (Astrid’s best friend), and the bully trifecta (Ryan, Trevor, and Jason). We only got a snippet on who they are and I wish the author dissected more of their past for us. I do like Sam’s sister, Rachel, and her boyfriend Jimmy. Although she and Jimmy only had a small part in the book, they were the most memorable characters for me. They were very understanding to Sam, and even though Jimmy had just been introduced to Sam, they quickly bonded since Jimmy can relate to what Sam is feeling.

I think what I disliked about this book is that the tone felt flat. Usually when I read heavy contemporary books, I feel strong emotions, but in this one, my feels were as flat as Kristen Stewart’s acting (just kidding). I had blank, zero, nada feels and I see this book as just “okay, done with this one…next!”. I didn’t feel any book hangover after finishing it which I usually do (i.e. when I read 13 Reasons Why, Faking Normal, The Duff, Wonder, etc.). Overall I still recommend it because you do get something out from the story.

3.5 of 5


12 Responses to “Review: Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff”

  1. 1 Melanie (YA Midnight Reads) January 6, 2015 at 5:51 AM

    I’ve been highly anticipating this one so I’m really glad that you enjoyed this one overall, Leigh! I was actually planning on reading this one the other day but Red Queen won hah. It’s a shame that the pace was slow for the first half D:

    Lovely review! <33

  2. 3 Mitchii @ The Aeropapers January 6, 2015 at 7:04 AM

    I also eyeing this book but so sad to know that you felt that most parts were dragged out. Sounds like it has a heavy tone in there so that is what originally piqued me, but will still try.

  3. 5 Nova @ Out of Time January 6, 2015 at 7:43 PM

    i saw that this one got a lot of hype and i was like… um… it sounds like something I’ve read before. I always have an issue with that because even if a book is amazing, if it’s unoriginal, it’s feels like something’s missing. I really enjoyed reading your review, Leigh 🙂

  4. 7 Sophia January 7, 2015 at 6:02 AM

    Beautiful cover, but I don’t think this book is for me. From what you said, especially about the faulty pacing, it doesn’t seem like my cup of tea.

  5. 9 Megan (Adrift on Vulcan) January 7, 2015 at 9:27 AM

    This sounded like it would be an emotional whirlwind of a story, so I’m, um, kind of disappointed that it only got 3.5 stars from you. 😦 I can understand why, though. I’m a pretty impatient reader, so slugging through a draggy story is NOT going to be fun (I might even just give up on it before I can get to the good parts). And meh, the one thing mystery books aren’t supposed to be is predictable, so that’s another downside for this book, looks like.

    Yeah, I feel the same way about contemporaries too. Since they’re lighter in the sense that they don’t require major world building (like fantasies), the least the authors can do is focus on making us emotionally attached to the story, you know? I find that half the time I find contemporaries so awful is because I can never emotionally connect to the characters, so I forget the book really easily. I’m glad that at least the characters were okay, though.

    Great review, Leigh! :B

  6. 11 Jess@MyReadingDress January 10, 2015 at 4:10 AM

    I’m not a contemporary person at all. On the rare occasion that I do read them, I go for fluff because I like to be all cynical and hate (oh god, am I just a hater at heart???? ://///) I have read a few emotional ones here and there and they haven’t worked for me either. I think it’s definitely because of what you’ve identified in this one: the flat tone.When you want emotions from your audience, you need to pack a punch. It sucks that this one kind of missed though. But fantastic review, Leigh! x

    • 12 Leigh (LittleBookStar) January 10, 2015 at 1:57 PM

      Haha I totally understand! For me to read a sad contemporary book, I really have to be in the mood for it or else I lose interest. This one unfortunately didn’t do justice when it comes to ‘feels’ :/ I was really looking forward to it since I really enjoyed 13 Reasons Why and this one sounded like it. Thanks, Jess!

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Well hello there! Thank you so much for stopping by. Little Book Star is a young adult book blog ran by Leigh, an 18 year old avid reader. This blog consists of book reviews, giveaways, author interviews, and more! Feel free to explore!

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