Published by HarperTeen on January 27, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Source: ARC borrowed thru Around the World ARC Tours
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.
~ Sam and Hayden are best friends, and for happy loner Sam, that seems to be enough. Turns out it wasn’t enough for Hayden, who was hiding some deep loneliness.
~ Honestly, it felt like this was a bit of a mash up of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and 13 Reasons Why.
~ It never felt like Hayden had any real deep reasons. It’s like he just got really bummed out about one thing, although with teen suicide it’s not always years long depression. But someone like Hayden suddenly killing himself just felt off, and that happens in life sometimes too.
~ So Hayden’s suicide note is short- just Sam, listen and you’ll understand, which is attached to a thumb drive full of music. How Gloomy Sunday didn’t make it to the list, I’ll never understand.
~ I liked that each chapter started with a song title… however, I found it weird that it would sometimes state a song and band, but then mention that the song actually on Hayden’s playlist was a cover by another band… why not just list the cover band?
~ I love how nerdy Sam and Hayden were, spending most of their time in the Intergalatic Trading Company, these are the boys I would have hung out with in school.
~ I had to laugh at the crack of how Coldplay is more popular than Radiohead because Chris Martin is cute. That might be true, because he is. lol (Also, I’m still mourning the breakup between Chris Martin and Jennifer Lawrence).
~ I found myself looking up some of the songs listed that I didn’t already know, and the best part of reading this book was actually recognizing not only the band but the actual song mentioned. It ends with Chvrches ‘The Mother We Share’ which I can’t help but associate with Jamie and Cersei Lannister. 😉
~ At Hayden’s funeral, his dad gives a eulogy that was reminiscent of the funeral for the football players in Heathers, where the dad’s all “I love my dead gay son”, although Hayden’s dad is all “I love my dead nerd son”, because he showered all his attention on jock son Ryan and pretty much ignored chubby game role playing Hayden.
~ There’s a lot going on in this book. There’s grief and that whole process that Sam has to deal with, his family issues, the mystery of why Hayden killed himself, the internet mystery that’s tied some crimes that Sam seems to be implicated in, and a little romance thrown in as well. The ArchmageGed stuff seemed just a bit too much and ended weirdly.
~ The cover of the book states that you don’t really know someone until you’ve read their playlist, and I’d agree that’s partially true. But I think it’s more what we wish were true, that by knowing my favorite songs and books and movies and art you’ll somehow understand the core of who I am. But what if you’re not a Bangles fan? What if you found the Night Circus boring? What if you’ve watched Mean Girls but not Heathers, so you totally didn’t get my Heathers reference up above? It’s like we not only want people to know us through what we love, but we want them to love it too.
~ This was not the perfect read for me- but it was a fast read. The mystery of what happened to Hayden the night before he killed himself had me flipping the pages, and the mystery of the crimes that seem to be committed upon those who hurt Hayden. Overall, it was worth reading, especially for the nerd factor.
Sam- our main character who’s trying to figure out why his best friend Hayden committed suicide by listening to a playlist Hayden left behind for him.
Hayden- wealthy nerd who never felt like he fit into his family, best friends with Sam.
Rachel- Sam’s older sister, whom Sam grows closer to in the aftermath of Hayden’s death, mostly because of her cool new boyfriend.
Ryan- Hayden’s golden boy brother, bullies Hayden and Sam.
Jason and Trevor- Ryan’s best friends, they also torment Hayden.
Astrid- a name she chose for herself, Astrid was friends with Hayden, but Sam only learns this later.
Eric- Astrid’s best friend, has an awesome room.
Mr. Beaumont- guidance counselor that Sam has to meet with.
Jimmy- Rachel’s new boyfriend, cool as hell, easily my favorite character next to Hayden’s playlist.
Jess- friend of Astrid and Eric.
Damien- friend of Astrid and Eric.
Athena- someone Hayden was chatting with online.
MM- figuring out who Athena was. I guessed correctly, but I didn’t know the whole time.
Stop the Clock:
Playlist for the Dead is a weird book, one I can’t really categorize. I feel like without the suicide, this could have been a lighthearted Shakespearean romantic comedy, and maybe that’s why Hayden’s suicide is such a tragedy. Why any teenager’s suicide breaks our hearts, because they can’t see that there is change ahead.
Playlist for the Dead gets a Midnight Book rating of: