Published January 27th, 2015 by HarperTeen.
Here’s what Sam knows: There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, Sam’s best friend, Hayden, was dead. All he left Sam was a playlist of songs—and a note, saying that he took his own life. But what Sam doesn’t know is: Why?
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. Especially when someone claiming to be Hayden starts sending him cryptic messages and a series of violent attacks begins on the bullies who made Hayden’s life hell.
Sam knows he has 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—including an eccentric, unpredictable girl who’s got secrets, too—that Sam will finally be able to piece together his best friend’s story.
And maybe have a chance to change his own. (Goodreads)
Although Sam and Hayden loved music and each chapter header offered a new song the actual playlist gave no clues as to why Hayden killed himself. I was under the impression that Sam was going to use the playlist to understand why Hayden took his own life. Instead, Hayden’s death was the plot device to move this story forward. Suicide is a serious topic and I am not sure that Falkoff was sensitive enough. I barely felt like Sam was grieving at all. He just wanted to know why. That’s understandable of course but the story focused much more of the mystery surrounding the night of the party than coping and grieving. I believe it would have been more genuine if there was a combination of grief and the need to find answers.
The mystery element is multilayered as the story unfolds. This story goes to prove that there is always two sides to the story (maybe more). The best parts of Playlist for the Dead was the writing and pacing. The characters were great too. In fact, it had several things going for it: LGBTQ+ representation (although I am not 100% sure how I felt about how it was presented), relatable characters, gaming, awkward romance, self-discovery and personal growth. As a debut, I thought it was great. I look forward to reading more by Falkoff in the future.