Cover Image: If I Die Before I Wake

If I Die Before I Wake

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Member Reviews

Gripping from start to finish, I loved this book. I would like to thank the publisher and the author for giving me the opportunity to review this.
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I had put off reading this because I wasn’t sure about the coma plotline but I wish I hadn’t! This is a truly unique novel, a rarity these days, and totally gripping.
Alex is a twenty something rock climber from Bristol who has an accident which leaves him in a vegetive state. The whole narrative is his and all from within the confines of his hospital room, from the confines of his own body. He is unable to make people realise he can hear them and is very much alive on the inside and so his life if lived and pieced together from the visits he receives from relatives and friends and from the nurses who tend him.
Alex is determined to uncover what really happened to him when he learns that the police are treating the accident as suspected murder and his quest becomes even more urgent when he realises his girlfriend is also in mortal danger.
I was so worried that this story would have a weak and predictable ending but it stays strong to the end which is heart wrenching.
It’s a great read but quick because you won’t want to put it down. The fact that the pace has momentum is incredible given that you don’t really leave the hospital room!
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I really struggled with this book, it seemed to take an age for anything to happen. The storyline didnt feel right with me either, a bloke in a coma telling his story 🤔
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Unfortunately I have had to give up on this book. I have tried and retried but I just don't seem to be able to connect with the story and find the pace too slow. Disappointing as the premises is really intriguing.
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An interesting approach to a murder mystery novel! I sped through this book and will definitely read more from the author. In places it was a little slow for my liking, understandable when the main character is suffering from locked in syndrome.
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Alex is in a coma after falling off a cliff while out climbing. All his family , friends and doctors are hoping for him to wake up but after 18 months are starting to give up hope. But Alex is aware of what is going on around him even when the MRI scans show there is no brain activity. His family are beginning to think it's time to let him go. 

But then they find out Alex's fall was no accident and the police believe that is was in fact Alex's girlfriend Bea that pushed him. 

But Bea is scared has she keeps getting prank phone calls and someone has been stalking her. There is also the mystery of who sent Alex a letter a week before his fall with a photo of a baby. 

I enjoyed this book and loved the idea of Alex in a coma being unable to move or communicate and everyone not knowing he is in fact awake. Alex did get in my nerves a bit with all his wishful thinking trying to make his limbs move, but in reality i think I would be the same if I was in his situation.  Really liked the twist in the story and the ending was pretty good.

4/5 stars.
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On the face of it, If I Die Before I Wake seemed like a pretty unique thriller. As a fan of pulse-racing mysteries, I couldn’t resist requesting it on NetGalley.

Alex is in hospital and everyone believes that he is in a coma, unable to communicate and unaware of his surroundings and situation. Scans show zero brain activity and his family are debating whether to withdraw life support. But Alex can hear their conversations and is fully aware of everything that is going on. He just can’t seem to tell anyone. What’s worse is that the climbing accident that put him in this position doesn’t seem to have been an accident. The culprit is still out there and he needs to somehow let his loved ones know before he eventually slips away.

As well as being an avid rock and cliff climber, Alex writes for a local newspaper, reporting crimes and stories of local interest. He has several clues as to who may have wanted him dead including ex-girlfriends and criminals he has exposed through his work. The process of his deduction is pretty exciting to follow and you are constantly stabbed in the side with the painful reminder that he can’t let anyone know. Koch did a great job at instilling Alex’s frustration in the reader.

Although we spend the entire narrative inside Alex’s head in this incredibly unique and desperate state of mind, I was still never sure if I really liked him. I wasn’t a big fan of his girlfriend Bea either and this disconnection probably affected my overall enjoyment of the book. I did feel a degree of sympathy for him but at times, he came across as disloyal and fickle. Bea seemed to be the same and I would probably have enjoyed a little more page time from their friends Rosie and Tom, who I did really like just from the little that I saw of them. 

Despite his problematic traits, I did believe that Alex genuinely loved Bea. I was willing him to show her that he was still there somehow and I didn’t want her to give up on him. In spite of not liking either of them individually, I was fully on board with their relationship, which is testament to Koch’s match-making abilities. 

When the story began its ascent to the climax and big reveal, I still wasn’t sure exactly what had happened to Alex. However, there was no way I could have predicted the truth because I wasn’t given the clues or enough insight into Alex’s past. I always prefer thrillers to plant hints throughout but If I Die Before I Wake didn’t have that. We were just told the details of an event that Alex had vaguely mentioned before. Therefore, my thoughts on learning what really happened wasn’t ‘OH WOW, THAT NOW MAKES PERFECT SENSE!’. It was more like ‘Oh. Okay.’

Alex constantly flits from wanting to fight and wanting to die. It’s a tragic, anxiety-inducing and sad mindset to spend time in but it’s certainly a unique one. It’s not a perspective I’ve ever read from before and although I enjoyed it, I felt that it possibly could have been executed a little better. I felt the desperation and the determination but I think my failure to really care about Alex diminished the intensity for me.

It’s certainly more of a mystery than a thriller, in my opinion. Excluding the final 20% of the book, the pacing feels a little slow for a thriller. It’s still a good story though and an interesting debut, so I’d certainly like to read Koch’s follow-up books.
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The premise for this book was such an interesting one and for a buddy read we were excited to see where this would go. The MC Alex life is a thrill-seeking one of a rock climber, daring to scale the sides of cliffs with a group of friends. However, something went wrong and he wakes up in the hospital….the problem is, well he is in a coma! He is unable to communicate with anyone, all he can do is lie and listen to his visitors and try to remember what had happened on the day he fell.

For a change, the clues and the misfit jigsaw puzzle is herded to us by the visitors at Alex’s bedside. He does not remember what happened, his memory being jogged by what he hears around him. You feel for him, the struggle and frustration of not being able to communicate with anyone are hard to read and experience with him. Even more so, as a reader you are like Alex, unable to do anything to influence the outcome of the story.

It is really such an interesting concept, to tell the story from this point of view. You are there with Alex every step of the way, working the clues, listening to hushed conversations, trying to figure out what is going on. This I liked, this was good! Yet, something just did not work for me, I felt some of it was drawn out too much and when the big reveal happened I found, for me, I did not care and the book slightly dipped in form. On one hand, I found the ending refreshing and satisfying and thought ‘yes this is perfect’, on the other hand, I was deflated and thought ‘well what was the point of that’.

This is a debut for Ms Koch and I thought that it was good! She draws you into Alex’s life, his lies, the secrets of his friends and family. There was such rawness with his family and the decisions that they had to make for Alex, all the while he is lying there screaming in his head that he is alive and ok! I was screaming at his Dad, the doctors, everyone to watch him and to not give up. There were some lovely touches with the mention of the kind nurse who looks after him and the janitor who sits by his bed watching the sports with him made me smile.
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I really enjoyed this book.  It kept me turning the pages from start to finish. Alex being in a coma but still aware and conscious was frightening and incomprehensible.  There were times during the book where I was holding my breath and willing everyone to realise he was still with them.  I would definitely recommend this book.
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Paralysed young man Alex wakes up from a coma after two years., a prisoner in his own body.  He can hear ever word his doctors and family say, even about pulling his plugging.  He soon realises that he was not in an accident but someone tried to kill him and intends to kill again.  A far-fetched plot with too slow a pace.
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Unfortunately I could not finish this one and I tried twice to give it a chance. Just not for me, I couldn't stay engaged and found it rather too slow.
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If i die before I wake is not your usual thriller, It is written as a narrative by Alex a 27 year old climber and journalist, that is, Alex was a climber until the accident 2 years ago that left him in a coma. All Alex's doctors, carers and family believe that Alex is in a comatose state and has no idea of what is going on around him. Contrary to this belief Alex is aware of everything going on around him and he soon makes the realisation that what was thought of as a terrible accident could actually be murder. Alex needs to solve the mystery of his attempted murder before it is too late.
A gripping read an it certainly makes you think about just what those in comas are able to hear, see and experience.
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A different type of read for me, Alex appears to be in a coma but he is fighting back, trying to make himself heard.  He hears all that is said in his room, everyone thinking he doesn’t know what is going on.  I found myself rooting for him to succeed in showing he was still alive inside his inert body and felt his frustration as he failed time and again.  It was a good read, a bit unusual but all the better for that.
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If I Die Before I Wake sounded like a book with a really unusual and unique angle. Alex Jackson is our narrator and he's telling the story of a climbing accident that he had, what led up to it and what's happened since. So far so normal, right? Except Alex is in a coma and has been since the day of the accident. He's locked in, able to hear everything and see some things, he can feel pain, he can cry, yet he can't let anybody know all these things and even tests don't show that he's not in a vegetative state.

So there's the unique slant on the story and it could have gone either way. It could have been amazing but I'm sorry to say that I found this book to be quite a disappointment. There were times when I got excited thinking something was going to happen only to be brought crashing back down to earth very quickly.

Alex is aware that for the first time in two years (that's how long he's been in a coma!) things are happening in his extended world. His girlfriend, Bea, is possibly moving on, discussions are being made about ending his life and something's just not right. This did cause a bit of tension and, like I say, a little excitement, but somehow the tension wasn't followed through and each high was met with a low. I had high hopes for the ending too but again, I felt it was lacking.

I think Emily Koch is a good writer, and perhaps for me the story needed another angle, perhaps one seen from one of the other characters, or maybe a genuine wow moment would have made it better for me. Either way, whilst this book didn't work for me I would still consider reading another of Koch's books in the future as I think there is potential there.
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My review is written with thanks to the publisher for my copy of If I Die Before  I  Wake  through Netgalley. 
The premise of If I  Die  Before I Wake is fascinating and this  novel has the potential to be brilliant. However,whilst the author hints at what might have happened to Alex, I felt the tension was shortlived and comes only in short bursts between mundane personal care tasks.
It's a huge risk having a narrator who is unconscious and in this instance I don't feel it paid off as I found  it difficult to warm to Alex and his visitors. 
I found the twists and reveals in the novel underwhelming.
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Told entirely from the point of view of Alex, in a coma with everyone believing he is to all intents and purposes gone, he is still in there and can hear what’s going on around him and feel what is happening to him. He has had an accident – or was it?  A nail biting page turner.
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It's so hard to imagine a life when you're aware of the world around you, butyou're also unable to have an effect on it. You are alive, but not living your life as you should. Is this really a life worth living?! It's always a hard question, and from my current stand I would definitely say yes, but what when you're really in that situation? Would I change my mind?

It's very interesting to read a book from a stand point of a man in a coma. It's an unusual idea and I found it well thought out. I think there are certain omissions in the implementation of that idea, but anyway, thumbs up for the idea. 

Reading this book I felt powerless, same as the main character, but the ending was still somewhat unsettling to reconcile with.
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Thank you to Netgalley and Random House for sending me this egalley in exchange for an honest review.

Finishing this book left me quite conflicted and it took me some time to sort through my feelings.
While reading this book I see-sawed between enjoying the book and being insanely frustrated with various aspects of it (characters/plot/pacing).

Overall it felt quite lack lustre, because we were missing large portions of the narrative and our narrator is unreliable and stuck in one room the entire book which makes the scope of the story very limited. It made it hard to progress and then there were such long stretches of time were not much happened... chapters really which should have been condensed because certain things were being repeated about his hospital stay that were quite unnecessary.

Also the ending... that probably made me the most unsure about my feelings towards the book, it was disappointing. I mean I saw one part of the twist coming, but not the identity of the doctor ... that was good, but then the final hallucination was just too much because by that point I wasn't sure what was real and what was hallucination and the fact his final moments were a hallucination kind of sucked. 

But I would check out future books by Emily Koch, because she did set up some really good twists, just the execution and pacing needed some work.
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This story is told by Alex who is in a coma. The first thing that struck me was how awful it must be to be sentient but no one knows that you are. I struggled with this to begin with as the writing was so good it felt so real and painful to read.

What is clever about this book is that the whole thing is set in the hospital room that Alex is in - we never get to see any other scenes, we only learn about them from his visitors. Luckily the visitors talk to him, relaying snippets that help us and Alex form a view of what is going on in the world around him.

For the first third of the book I began to wonder if I could stick with this. It got a little monotonous, all the visitors once you knew who they were then revisited and not much more was forthcoming about what could happen to Alex. It was literally groundhog day - which of course for Alex it was over and over again in his comatose state.

Then things moved on and a whodunnit element began to weave into the book, getting me to suspect anyone and everyone. I then was on a mission to finish the book as soon as I could, I was really gripped by it to the very end.

Fantastic writing, realistic portrayal of hospital life for a patient and such an original concept. I'm giving it five out of five stars
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So happy to be given a whole budget to replenish our senior shelves in the school library. The books in there are far from appealing at the moment and I have been delighted to find books here that will intrigue, captivate and engross my senior students. 

This is a fantastic read with characters they will be able to connect with, a pacy narrative and an ending that will provide plenty to talk about. Emily Koch has created an engrossing read that draws the reader in and really keeps them guessing...

It's great to read a book that does not feel formulaic and gives some credit to their reader's intelligence too. Young people are very fussy about the books they choose to read and in this time-precious day and age it really has to be something above and beyond the ordinary to get them to put down their devices and get their noses stuck in a book.

I think this is one book that will capture their imagination and keep them turning the pages until the end. This is definitely going onto my 'must-buy' list and I really look forward to seeing what the young people themselves think of this unusual and engaging novel.
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