If I Die Before I Wake By Emily Koch: Review and Summary

If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch, Paperback, 9781784705718 | Buy

If I Die Before I Wake: A Gripping Psychological Thriller

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to experience life from someone else’s perspective? If I Die Before I Wake, the debut novel by Emily Koch, offers readers an immersive opportunity to experience the world through the eyes of a paralyzed protagonist. In this deeply moving and suspenseful novel, we follow the story of Alex, a young man who has been in a coma for two years following a life-changing fall from a rooftop. As his doctors and family prepare to say their goodbyes, Alex’s consciousness remains fully aware of what is happening around him. Through his eyes, we see the raw emotions of those closest to him, as well as his own desperate attempt to uncover the truth behind his accident. Koch’s emotive prose and clever use of structure make If I Die Before I Wake a masterclass in storytelling.

Main Themes and Ideas

At its core, If I Die Before I Wake is a page-turning thriller that has readers questioning everything they thought they knew about Alex’s accident. However, the novel is much more than just a whodunit. It explores complex themes such as family dynamics, identity, and the human psyche. As we see Alex’s family and friends grapple with their own inner demons, Koch encourages the reader to reflect on what they would do in a similar situation. Would we fight for the truth, or would we accept the easier path of least resistance?

Critical Evaluation

Koch’s writing style is a refreshing change from the prevalent genre norms, and it’s easy to see why If I Die Before I Wake has received critical acclaim. Her use of Alex’s perspective to present a unique insight into the human condition resonates with readers, and the book’s seemingly impossible premise feels incredibly plausible under her skilled pen. Koch’s use of multiple perspectives as the story develops is also commendable, weaving a complex web of believable characters and potential suspects. Overall, the storytelling is paced perfectly, with the tension and stakes ratcheting up with each chapter.

One criticism that could be levelled at the novel is Koch’s tendency to ramble at times. Some of the descriptions and dialogue feel belabored and add little to the overall narrative. Furthermore, some readers may find that the resolution of the novel feels somewhat anticlimactic. However, these weaknesses are minor in the context of such a gripping and thought-provoking story.

Strengths and Weaknesses

If I Die Before I Wake’s strengths lie in its unique premise, engaging characters, fast-paced plot, and the themes it explores. The book’s weaknesses may be its tendency to over-explain and its occasionally unsatisfying ending. However, the strengths far outweigh the weaknesses, and overall, this is an excellent and captivating psychological thriller.

Comparisons to Other Works in the Genre

If I Die Before I Wake is unique in the genre of psychological thrillers due to its primary perspective being that of a comatose person. It is this perspective that sets it apart from other similar works such as Harlan Coben’s The Stranger, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, and Ruth Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10. Indeed, this uniqueness is what draws readers into the novel in the first place, and the novel does not disappoint in its execution.

Overall Impression and Recommendation

If I Die Before I Wake is a masterful psychological thriller that is both suspenseful and deeply moving. Koch’s use of Alex’s perspective to create an immersive experience for the reader is brilliant, and her exploration of complex themes like family dynamics and identity will stay with readers long after they finish the book. Overall, I would highly recommend If I Die Before I Wake to anyone looking for a gripping and thought-provoking read.


How can Alex be aware of everything going on around him when he is in a coma?

Koch creatively uses Alex’s perspective to present a unique insight into the human experience. Although not entirely medically accurate, the premise of Alex’s consciousness being fully aware of his surroundings is plausible enough to suspend disbelief and enjoy the story.

Why does the book use several perspectives throughout the story?

Koch uses multiple perspectives to present a complex web of believable characters and potential suspects. By showing us the story from different angles, she builds tension and keeps the reader guessing until the very end.

Is the ending satisfying?

Opinions may vary on the ending of the novel. Some readers may feel that it is unsatisfying, while others may find it fitting for the story. Regardless, the winding journey to get there is well worth the read.

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