Title: If I Die Before I Wake
Author: Emily Koch
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
How Do You Solve Your Own Murder?
Everyone believes Alex is in a coma, unlikely to ever wake up. As his family debate withdrawing life support, and his friends talk about how his girlfriend Bea needs to move on, he can only listen.
But Alex soon begins to suspect that the accident that put him here wasn’t really an accident. Even worse, the perpetrator is still out there and Alex is not the only one in danger.
As he goes over a series of clues from his past, Alex must use his remaining senses to solve the mystery of who tried to kill him, and try to protect those he loves, before they decide to let him go.
Ahh, another great read to continue my excitement at the fantastic novels being published in 2018! This is a tricky book to write my review on for two reasons – 1) I wanted bits of it to be different, and 2) I’m glad really that those bits weren’t different! You need to read this novel to see what I’m saying, but I hugely enjoyed starting If I Die Before I Wake without knowing all that much about it, so I’m going to avoid including any details in this review which might give too much away!
The premise itself is really interesting – we see everything through the mind and consciousness of Alex. No one else is aware that Alex is actually conscious though, because Alex is in a coma after having a climbing accident. As the novel continues, however, we start to see that it may not have been such an accident after all…
There are plenty of doubtful characters in If I Die Before I Wake, a trope I love – I like that feeling of unsettledness, when you don’t quite know who is authentic and who is hiding something. Alex himself starts to doubt some people around him, for different reasons. The fact that he is stuck in a hospital bed, fully aware of what’s going on (though he can’t see) and being able to feel and experience a lot of what’s happening, means this book felt very claustrophobic. At times I noticed myself feeling more and more constricted, as Alex himself feels increasingly like this, and Emily Koch’s ability to make the reader mimic Alex’s feelings is amazing (though makes for an uncomfortable reading experience at times!). I felt like I was there with him, stuck in an unmoving, unresponsive body, having to hear conversations he doesn’t want to hear, or being put in painful positions by unaware nurses. It’s so uncomfortable to read sometimes, but this only makes it so much more powerful as a novel.
Then, of course, there’s the mystery element. I do love a good mystery! This book is obviously quite unique in that we don’t follow the police, or a smart private investigator, or even Alex’s girlfriend Bea, as the case unfolds. We only find out what Alex can piece together, which is even more frustrating as he is never told anything because no one realises he can hear! It’s a very unique way of storytelling and, although at times I just wanted to know WHAT IS GOING ON?, I appreciate the powerful storytelling that Emily Koch has presented here. I’d also like strong words with her about *that part* (I don’t want to specify anything more so as not to give too much away). It definitely evoked strong feelings in me, and left me thinking about it long after I’d finished, which is certainly a sign of a compelling, well-written story!
Many thanks to Random House UK and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.