Tuesday, 2 January 2018

If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch

What's interesting about the way the author has planned the story out is the way the intent is within reach, however it doesn't become really clear until closer to the end.

Alex likes the thrill of climbing and is perhaps guilty of becoming complacent with his safety, which is probably how he ends up in a coma after a serious fall. His head injury leaves him in a terrifying situation. Alex can hear and feel everything around him, but is unable to respond to anyone or anything. A nightmare scenario.

The medical condition is based on a pseudocoma also known as Locked-in syndrome, minus the blinking and vertical eye movements, although Alex is often able to see through the slits of his slightly opened eyes. Koch has clearly done a lot of research on the subject, which is reflected in the story.

The story is narrated by Alex himself via his inner dialogue and thought processes, and the one-sided conversations he has with his family, friends and the medical staff.

He has no memory of how he fell, and as the story progresses questions arise about the details of the accident. Was it more than just a careless incident? Did someone help Alex fall, and why?

The perspective of the possible victim is what gives this story a high level of suspense. The reader knows that Alex can't help himself in any way, regardless of what he remembers or discovers about his accident.

Kudos to Koch for the ending, and for not feeling the need to bow down to the candy floss brigade of happy endings. It's poetic injustice in a screwed up fictional kind of way.

Buy If I Die Before I Wake at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @EmilyKoch @vintagebooks @harvillsecker

Visit emilykoch.co.uk

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