Before the Fall
By: Noah Hawley
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the passengers disappear 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 a wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.
With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the tragedy 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 crash heightens. As the passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy: Was it merely 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–all while the reader draws closer and closer to uncovering the truth.
The fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together.
Sort of picked this book up and started reading before I went on holiday; this was the time when I was in a book slump and nothing was piquing my interesting so after the first chapter or so I had put this book back down. After sort of overcoming my book slump upon returning from holiday, I picked this book back up again to finish it 🙂
Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to think about the format of the story at first. We start with the day of crash, of how these people ended up on that plane. Then the narrative splinters off: one narrative focuses on the aftermath, of Scott and JJ coming to terms of what happened, as well as the people left behind also affected by the crash. But there are also other narratives in which it delves into the backstories of the passengers and crew members on the plane. It can be a bit confusing at times, and perhaps a tad bit frustrating if you’re more invested in reading about the aftermath, like I was.
But as weird as the narrative was at times–which is probably why I didn’t read it straight when I first picked it up–it is wholly engrossing; once the story really sets its stride, I could not put the book down, I had to find out if the crash was intentional or not, if the Batemans were the target. And I wanted to see how Scott handles the aftermath of what happened, of the media circling him and all of the troubles associated with it: the way the story changes over time, how they will delve into your past, present the story and certain situations in a particular light. I wish there was more focus between Scott and JJ but the scenes they had together were powerful, of two people who had just survived such tragedy and living with the trauma. And there was also Eleanor, sister of Maggie and aunt of JJ who’s suddenly cast in the role of guardian for JJ and grappling with the situation as well.
I will also say when they finally revealed the reason why the plane went down…It was pretty ehhh and messed up and a sad reminder of how one act and dragging a whole lot of people with you is just selfish and stupid and sad.
Overall though Before the Fall was an interesting read and left me wondering as I read along. Did I hear somewhere that it was being adapted for the big screen? (Ahh, indeed) Should be more interesting watching it unfold on the big screen but nonetheless I found myself quite invested of the characters. I would recommend this book a a summer read.