Playlist for the Dead

Finished Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff.  I received a copy for review from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“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 is an incredibly fast read, because I was interested to know why Hayden killed himself and what was going on with several different things.
Unfortunately, there were at least two plotlines too many for a novel that isn’t even 300 pages.
At its core, the story worked best (at least for me) when it was about Sam and Hayden.  As you’d expect, Sam is heartbroken and angry at his best friend for committing suicide.  He listens to the playlist obsessively trying to understand why Hayden did it, but the answers aren’t obvious.
And then the rest was introduced.  Hayden may or may not have been dating someone; a girl named Astrid appears who knows more than she’s saying; someone using Hayden’s screen name starts contacting Sam; people who were mean to Hayden start being attacked by a mysterious person or people.
It’s a lot to cram in to one 288 page book.
But, like I said, it definitely held my interest, and I love the concept.  I would absolutely read her again.

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