Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
On a foggy summer night, eleven people—ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter—depart Martha’s Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs—the painter—and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.
With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew members—including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot—the mystery surrounding the tragedy heightens. As the passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy. Was it merely by dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations. And while Scott struggles to cope with fame that borders on notoriety, the authorities scramble to salvage the truth from the wreckage.
Amid pulse-quickening suspense, the fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this stunning novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together.
This book is everywhere right now, and while I didn’t love it, I can understand why it’s so popular. It’s about a plane crash – it’s very sensationalized, just like as if it were on the actual news. The main plot is interwoven with the backstory on every character involved in the crash. That’s exactly what the media would (and does) do for a real life tragedies. It’s a little ironic considering that Hawley seems to be making a point in the book about the modern media.
I enjoyed the main plot of the investigation and aftermath of the crash of a private plane carrying only 8 passengers and 3 crew members. But I didn’t enjoy all the backstory. It was just too much irrelevant detail. I wanted more action and plot. I should have known by the description that this would be a character driven novel.
Despite all of the backstory (is there a synonym for that word?), the only characters I really cared for were Scott, JJ, and Eleanor. Everyone else died at the start of the book, and even knowing more about their lives leading up to the crash didn’t help me develop any sympathy for them. The story would make an excellent movie I think, but it didn’t work as well as I was hoping it would as a book.
My Rating: 3 Stars
This book is a She Reads Book Club – Books of Summer selection. Read reviews from other members of their blogger network on their website.
On the blog last year…
Book Review: The Boys in the Boat