Book Review: Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

| On
June 02, 2016
Well, it’s been a hot minute! May ended up being a ridiculously busy month and a terrible one for reading at that, hence the sporadic, all over the place reviews! But I’m back! (I think. I hope) And June’s already shaping up to be a good bookish month, if only because it started on such a high note with this book!

Confession time: the only reason why I picked this book is because the author also wrote the TV show Fargo which I’ve enjoyed IMMENSELY and I figured, a book coming out from that same brain can’t be half bad, right? Well, I wasn’t wrong!

Before the Fall revolves around the crash of a private plane off the coast of New York City where the only two survivors are a middle-aged painter, Scott Burroughs, and a 4-year-old boy who was a part of a very wealthy and powerful family. As authorities start investigating the crash, trying to figure out what happened--why would a perfectly good plane fall out of the sky? Was it an accident? An act of terrorism?--you get glimpses of the lives of the 11 people that were on board and the sense that nothing’s ever what it seems.

I’ll admit that Before the Fall was not at all what I was expecting. After reading the synopsis, I was thinking I would find a very investigation-heavy plot full of red herrings, and while there was some of that in this book, it wasn’t the main focus. Instead, it takes a very character-driven approach, exploring each character’s lives up until the moment the plane takes off. It gets very interesting as it introduces you to the many possibilities that led to the crash and has you trying to solve the mystery along with law enforcement. At the same time, it focuses on the lives of those dealing with the aftermath of the tragedy; the survivors, the close relatives, and even the whole nation represented via the media.

The social commentary in this novel is just excellent. It explores the manipulation of events done by the media, the way we as people react to tragedies, the obsession with wealth and how, in the end, no amount of money can save you when things go wrong. They vilify the man who survived and rescued the young boy because his version of the events didn’t support their agendas and the story they want to feed the viewers, so he goes from being heralded as a hero, to a suspicious man that had no business being on that plane and who might be behind the whole incident.

At times, it was uncomfortable to read the parts involving the news station because it hit so close to home. It’s sickening the way news outlets take advantage of tragedies to get a higher viewership. It’s not about reporting the news or informing the people anymore, but about what shocking and scandalous headlines and images will turn people's attention away from all the other outlets, and this book does a good job portraying that and making insightful comments about our reality and who’s to blame.

And then there’s the resolution that you don’t see coming and when you find out what truly happened to that plane, it almost breaks your heart and you feel as helpless as someone witnessing a train derailment knowing there’s nothing they can do to stop it. Yes, it’s all fictitious, but Noah Hawley does such a good job portraying real human beings and the complexity of relationships that the emotional response is automatic and hard to ignore.

I enjoyed Before the Fall not only because of its fantastic narrative and writing, but because it managed to surprise me and kept me hooked even though I rarely (if ever!) seek to read character-driven suspense and thrillers. It was eye-opening and sad, but also uplifting at times, making you hope that wherever these characters go next, there’s nothing but good things waiting for them. They’ve been through enough!

(I’d like to thank Grand Central Publishing for providing me with a digital ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review)
Be First to Post Comment !
Post a Comment

Klik the button below to show emoticons and the its code
Hide Emoticon
Show Emoticon