ARC Review: If I Die Before I Wake – Emily Koch

aka the time I suspected everyone is guilty, including our MC.



Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: January 11th 2018 by Harvill Secker


How Do You Solve Your Own Murder?

Everyone believes Alex is in a coma, unlikely to ever wake up. As his family debate withdrawing life support, and his friends talk about how his girlfriend Bea needs to move on, he can only listen.

But Alex soon begins to suspect that the accident that put him here wasn’t really an accident. Even worse, the perpetrator is still out there and Alex is not the only one in danger.

As he goes over a series of clues from his past, Alex must use his remaining senses to solve the mystery of who tried to kill him, and try to protect those he loves, before they decide to let him go.


Imagine having to solve your own murder. How terrible, and painful, and frightening that would be. Trying to piece together memories, overheard conversations and basic intuition. Having to rule out the people you knew and once trusted, and having to stand by as your family, your life, the world moved on without you. Poor Alex.

Also, don’t expect too much coherency in this one, because this one scrambled my brain for a while.


The Characters


I flopped so much, trying to figure out if our MC’s girlfriend Bea was guilty or not. I was equally convinced of her innocence and her guilt. This was clearly the author’s intention, and job well done as far as I’m concerned. She was presented as uncaring and callous at times and others she was the most devoted lover. Who are you really, Bea???


There were some very morbid, dark, painful moments that we are forced to witness. There was also a heady sense of guilt, which I can’t disclose without spoilers, that our MC carried with him. Alex is the type of character that ties his self-worth very closely to physicality and so this was the worst possible fate that he could have been dealt. He doesn’t let us forget that for a moment.


My least favorite character was Nurse Connie, by a mile and a half. My God was she vile! Offensive, unprofessional. Ugh. She needed to be more like Nurse Pauline. Tom is among my favorites, a true friend. He believed in Alex’s recovery and innocence throughout the entire ordeal and honestly these are the qualities I desire in friends.


Alex’s poor father and the choice he was left to make. Woof. I don’t know if I could do it. Either he continues to stand by and watch his son stagnate or consent to have him, for lack of a better word, killed. Who can make such a decision, especially as a parent? An unenviable position.



The Plot


They could stop feeding me, or let me slip away the next time I got an infection.


I hadn’t made it very far into the book when I realized that I would be broken before this ride was over. My heart was already hurting for Alex and his family. Aside from how Alex ended up in this position, just the fact that his condition is so precarious has to be the hardest thing to go through as a family. Then we add in the layer of suspicious circumstances and HOW ARE YOU MEANT TO COPE????


There is a perfect balance of whodunnit and whatisevenhappening that leaves you convinced you’ve figured it out when you really haven’t. Very early on I was CONVINCED that I had it figured out. Oh child, but was I wrong. That conviction even had me finding more evidence of my truth throughout the novel. Ha! What a joke!


I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I was sure that I knew what happened: Bea did it/no it’s an accident/no character x did it, rinse and repeat. So much flip-flopping.





My Thoughts



At any given moment, within a certain undefinable radius of your sorry body or soul, there will be something that can lift you. The trick is knowing where to look.


Our MC’s humanness was brought into stark focus for me when, instead of being concerned with recovery, his main nagging thought was the fact that a trainee journalist had been allowed to write about his accident. I wanted to shake him, because, big picture dude. Who cares about that? You are literally lying in a bed unmoving and depending on a machine to breathe. What. Is. Wrong. With. You????


I also really didn’t understand his willingness and hurry to give up. I felt like he should’ve fought more, or at least sooner. Honestly, every few sentences it was him wishing for it to be over, until the very last few chapters when he decided that life might be worth it after all.


I loved the ending. I won’t spoil it for you, but I found it beautiful and open to interpretation.





I can’t!!! If what you’re searching for is a thriller/mystery with an unreliable narrator that leaves you more than a little confused: pick this one up. If that’s not your cup of tea, maybe give this a miss.


Goodreads: 4.18 

My rating: 5


Until next time, keep reading


Dee ^_^



3 thoughts on “ARC Review: If I Die Before I Wake – Emily Koch

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