Thank you to Grand Central Publishing, for providing me with an advanced copy of Noah Hawley's novel, Before the Fall, in exchange for an honest review.
PLOT- A private plane en route from Martha's Vineyard to NYC, mysteriously crashes into the Atlantic. There are two survivors that managed to survive a night in the frigid ocean to swim ashore: a middle-aged painter and a four-year old boy, the son of a powerful business man who died in the crash. As details of the passenger manifest emerge, more questions than answers arise, putting both the dead and living under high-profile public scrutiny.
LIKE- Hawley is a terrific writer. I adored his novel, The Punch, and he's the showrunner for one of the best series on television, FX's Fargo. Hawley can write the hell out of a story and Before the Fall is no exception. It's fantastic.
Structure and character development are strong. Hawley deftly moves the story back and forth through time, to give a context for each character who was involved in the plane crash. The character flashbacks don't always have a direct relation to the plot of the plane crash investigation, but they do serve to give us context for the characters actions...simply stated, "The Characters, Character." This is a large cast, but every character is vibrant and fully developed.
I was so absorbed in the character development, that it wouldn't have even mattered if the mystery of the plane crash was never resolved. In case you're worried, the crash does have a resolution, but that mystery is secondary to the story of the character's lives. Before the Fall plays with themes of our snap judgement/ social media culture and the way that the media can rip open a tragedy, reducing those involved to edited or ficticious versions of themselves, soundbites...this theme mixed with the detailed observations of the characters lives, makes a powerful statement. You might even feel a little guilty or shamed after reading. I did.
RECOMMEND- Hawley is such a talent. Before the Fall is a must-read book of 2016. Everyone will be talking about it, and it has already been optioned for a film, with Hawley as the screenwriter. Can't wait.