Before the Fall- Noah Hawley

On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges 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 an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.

With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the crash 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 tragedy heightens. As the passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy. Was it merely by 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. And while Scott struggles to cope with fame that borders on notoriety, the authorities scramble to salvage the truth from the wreckage.

Amid pulse-quickening suspense, the fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this stunning novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together.

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This was a well written story with a plot that leaves you wondering and questioning why things happen the way they do with very well placed flashbacks. The multi-dimensional characters are developed with very believable characteristics. I love the main character Scott and am filled with admiration and would ultimately consider him a hero after the lengths he went to just to save the boy. I was captivated as the story continued to unfold; contemplating whether the plane went down as a planned attack or simply a mechanical malfunction. I like how the details are laid out from the media’s perspective and give an adequate look into the celebrity that Scott had become. I applaud his compassion for JJ and the interest he takes in the family in hopes that he is able to move on from this incident after losing so much.

It was not a fast moving thriller, but yet a gently told depiction of something that could have really happened. That being said, I wanted more in the last quarter of the book. The ending left me feeling a bit underwhelmed. It’s possible I felt that way due to the fact that the media within the story built up this grandiose story of what could have happened and in the end… well, you’ll see if you decide to take on this book. That may have been Hawley’s intention’s all along. Themes of reality vs perception, the fate of events, and questioning the relevance of time abound in this novel. I am not disappointed that I read this story at all-  I very much enjoyed it and the believability of it all makes it a really beautifully written tale.

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