If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch.


Book Review by Cari Mayhew.

Link to book on Amazon

This book is part whodunit and part thriller– but not in equal measures.

The central character, Alex, wakes up to find he has been in a coma for over a year – but everyone still thinks he is in the coma – he cannot move a finger.  He gathers from his visitors that he had an accident while rock climbing but he has no recollection of what happened.  Halfway through the book, Alex finds out that he was a victim of attempted murder, and tries his utmost to work out who would want to do it and how it could have happened.  Simultaneously he tries desperately to show everyone that he’s awake.

I found the author’s storytelling a little jumpy.  The book is written as a stream of consciousness from the protagonist.  A protagonist who is often sleepy at vital times, often delirious, and although he is often looking back at his personal life, he also manages to block out important memories.

It was a long wait before Alex found out about the attempted murder, but I knew it was coming from the book description I had read.  And the author did have plenty to write about up to that point, and this was deliberately void of focus.  One minute Alex is describing how he met his girlfriend, and soon after it swings to overhearing discussions about stopping his food.  The author paints a good picture of Alex and his life before the accident.

Telling a story where the main character can’t so much as chew his own food must be no mean feat, but the author pulls it off expertly.  There are several characters and subplots, with past mistakes, an aggravated police officer, moody relatives, a hidden crush, a strange threatening letter, a possible pregnancy, and a proposal that never went ahead.  Koch draws you into Alex’s world, with characters you love to hate and hidden agendas to question.

Of course, we do find out whodunit (no spoilers!) but this is done with more of the story to come.  That said I would have preferred more overheard dialogue at this part, though I did find the ending particularly fitting for the character.

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