PLAYLIST FOR THE DEAD by Michelle Falkoff


Age Range: 12 - 16
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When his best friend leaves behind a mysterious playlist in lieu of a proper suicide note, Sam is left with dozens of questions and only a handful of songs as clues. 

Hayden and Sam have been thick as thieves since they were 8, but the pressures of high school have been pushing them apart bit by bit for the last few months. After a party turns disastrous, the two leave on the worst of terms, and Sam finds Hayden’s body in the morning with an empty bottle each of vodka and Valium. He also finds a playlist and a note with just one sentence: "For Sam….Listen and you'll understand." As Sam deals with his only friend's death, a mysterious girl come out of the woodwork offering condolences and a different account of Hayden's personality. As Sam discovers more and more about his friend, he discovers a bit more about his own sense of identity as well. It’s a nice premise with some truly powerful moments, but there is a serious overreliance on exposition-heavy dialogue. These conversations are lined up one after another so often it almost becomes comical. A few emotional dead ends are met as well, making for an ambitious book that doesn't quite stick any of the landings. The highs of the journey are so high that it's almost forgivable that the book's central mystery ends up being a bust.

A mixed bag that delights slightly more than disappoints. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 27th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-06-231052-1
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: HarperTeen
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2014


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