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Before the Fall

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The rich are different. But fate is blind. Down-on-his-luck artist Scott Burroughs would usually take the ferry back to New York from Martha's Vineyard, but he is unexpectedly offered a spare seat on the Bateman family's private jet. Then just minutes after take-off, the plane crashes into the ocean and of the eight passengers and three crew, only Scott and the Batemans' sm The rich are different. But fate is blind. Down-on-his-luck artist Scott Burroughs would usually take the ferry back to New York from Martha's Vineyard, but he is unexpectedly offered a spare seat on the Bateman family's private jet. Then just minutes after take-off, the plane crashes into the ocean and of the eight passengers and three crew, only Scott and the Batemans' small son, JJ, are left alive. The extraordinary nature of their survival, combined with the fact that David Bateman was CEO of a populist TV news channel, means that Scott will not be returning to anonymity. Along with the orphaned boy, he is engulfed by a maelstrom of speculation, which soon overtakes the official investigation into the tragedy. Who else was on the plane? Was there a bomb, a missile? Who is Scott Burroughs? As the chapters drive towards their heart-stopping conclusion, weaving with ever-increasing suspense between the shocking aftermath of the crash and the intimate backstory of each of the passengers and crew members, Noah Hawley creates a searching, thrilling novel of love, fame, wealth, art, entertainment and power.


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The rich are different. But fate is blind. Down-on-his-luck artist Scott Burroughs would usually take the ferry back to New York from Martha's Vineyard, but he is unexpectedly offered a spare seat on the Bateman family's private jet. Then just minutes after take-off, the plane crashes into the ocean and of the eight passengers and three crew, only Scott and the Batemans' sm The rich are different. But fate is blind. Down-on-his-luck artist Scott Burroughs would usually take the ferry back to New York from Martha's Vineyard, but he is unexpectedly offered a spare seat on the Bateman family's private jet. Then just minutes after take-off, the plane crashes into the ocean and of the eight passengers and three crew, only Scott and the Batemans' small son, JJ, are left alive. The extraordinary nature of their survival, combined with the fact that David Bateman was CEO of a populist TV news channel, means that Scott will not be returning to anonymity. Along with the orphaned boy, he is engulfed by a maelstrom of speculation, which soon overtakes the official investigation into the tragedy. Who else was on the plane? Was there a bomb, a missile? Who is Scott Burroughs? As the chapters drive towards their heart-stopping conclusion, weaving with ever-increasing suspense between the shocking aftermath of the crash and the intimate backstory of each of the passengers and crew members, Noah Hawley creates a searching, thrilling novel of love, fame, wealth, art, entertainment and power.

30 review for Before the Fall

  1. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea Humphrey

    I've read some pretty great books this year; so far I've been able to track a total of 107 since January 1st. A few have been total duds, most have been an enjoyable read but utterly forgettable; however, there have been a select few that I have read in 2016 that I would place in a special bracket-memorable, enjoyable, unique and of the highest recommendation. Before The Fall was one of those books. I'll be thinking about this one for months to come; there is something really intriguing about re I've read some pretty great books this year; so far I've been able to track a total of 107 since January 1st. A few have been total duds, most have been an enjoyable read but utterly forgettable; however, there have been a select few that I have read in 2016 that I would place in a special bracket-memorable, enjoyable, unique and of the highest recommendation. Before The Fall was one of those books. I'll be thinking about this one for months to come; there is something really intriguing about reading a novel written by someone who typically writes screenplays. "Everyone has their path. The choices they've made. How any two people end up in the same place at the same time is a mystery. You get on an elevator with a dozen strangers. You ride a bus, wait in line for the bathroom. It happens every day. To try to predict the places we'll go and the people we'll meet would be pointless." I'll start by saying the careful, articulate crafting of this tale is exquisite. I couldn't get enough of the way the story unfolded; it truly felt as though I was watching a movie in my mind from the way it was told. We begin and end with the same part of the story; the beginning told from one POV and the end told from another. There are many sections told from Scott's POV in the present, but also chunks of stories that read as a dossier on the deceased from the plane crash to help us begin to piece together the truth. This truly made me feel a part of the mystery and kept the pages flying by. "Watching, by definition, is different from doing." I loved that this was more than just a surface level mystery relying on cheap thrills to get me by. There were so many deeper aspects to this story, and this is what made it memorable to me. Yes, the mystery of the crash and the unveiling of each character's background kept me hooked, but I was also as connected to Scott and JJ's journey; here are two people who survived the odds and have to deal with the trauma of survivors guilt and PTSD while being a part of one of the most prestigious investigations of their (fictional) time. There are so many intricate details, from the Jack Lalanne background to the details involving investigative procedures differing between various forms of law enforcement and military, I could feel an extra level of depth to this story than if the author had chosen to just keep everything focused on a surface level. Every single chapter seemed to tie in together to make one beautiful web of a hauntingly brilliant story. My only (minor) drawback was the ending. It's a perfectly good ending, don't get me wrong. No spoilers here, but I had been expecting it to go in a different direction, and for hundreds of pages we are building up to this massive conclusion and it just seemed a little anticlimactic for me. I understand why the author did it, and the longer I've sat on it, the more its grown on me. Who knows; maybe one day, once the shock has worn off, I'll embrace it more heartily. Even with the ending as it is, this is a fantastic book that is well written with developed characters and nail-biting suspense to keep you from doing the dishes and laundry for two days (not that I know that from personal experience...). Highly recommended to just about anyone, as I feel it has something to offer almost anyone! *Many thanks to Grand Central Publishing for my copy in exchange for an honest and fair review. They went out of their way to send me a finished hardcover since I was an idiot and didn't request it on NetGalley in time. You guys rock and are on my gold star list!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Maggie Stiefvater

    It's difficult for me to recommend thrillers to non-thriller readers. I grew up reading them and so have a high tolerance for the genre conventions. You know, men named Jack or Tom who will later be played by Denzel Washington or Liam Neeson. Shadowy figures from whichever country your grandpa thinks is sketchy. We need YOU, civilian man with no training, to help us with this investigation, or it will all fall apart. Machine guns referred to by brand, in case you were in the market yourself. A c It's difficult for me to recommend thrillers to non-thriller readers. I grew up reading them and so have a high tolerance for the genre conventions. You know, men named Jack or Tom who will later be played by Denzel Washington or Liam Neeson. Shadowy figures from whichever country your grandpa thinks is sketchy. We need YOU, civilian man with no training, to help us with this investigation, or it will all fall apart. Machine guns referred to by brand, in case you were in the market yourself. A certain number of fridged relatives in order to grease the emotional gears of the plot machinations. Titles like DOUBLE-CROSSED and DON'T LOOK BACK and MAN ON THE RUN and TRIGGER HAPPY. Look, I know. But I think BEFORE THE FALL is a mystery/thriller I can recommend to non-thriller readers. "This," I will tell them, "is a thriller!" Actually I will mean, "This is what I always want thrillers to be." The hook is simple: a small plane crashes with two fancy business moguls on it. Also in attendance are their families and a down-on-his-luck painter. Only the painter and a four-year-old boy survive. The narrative winds back and surges forward in order to examine the events leading up to the crash and the consequences after. It's fast-paced and tightly plotted, which is always on the menu of Genre Thriller Cafe. But BEFORE THE FALL also has a playful turn of the phrase, a decidedly character-driven story, and something to say about the media. It means that while you're devouring this particular menu item, you'll find that you might have to stop to chew, a welcome request in a genre that in both print and film has been overflowing with lump-free puddings since the 80s. I'll be putting this one on the plates of both my thriller-loving friends and those who normally stick with more literary fare.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    First, let's talk about the cover of Before the Fall because this has to go down as one of the worst book covers of 2016, maybe the decade, maybe of all time. I checked this book out three times from the library and the first two times I couldn't even bring myself to read it. I would pick it up, look at that bland, lifeless cover with big, stupid letters and oh boy check it out the word "fall" looks like it's actually falling and the whole thing really just looks like a giant letter T and the co First, let's talk about the cover of Before the Fall because this has to go down as one of the worst book covers of 2016, maybe the decade, maybe of all time. I checked this book out three times from the library and the first two times I couldn't even bring myself to read it. I would pick it up, look at that bland, lifeless cover with big, stupid letters and oh boy check it out the word "fall" looks like it's actually falling and the whole thing really just looks like a giant letter T and the colors are so uninviting anyway. So yeah... I judged a book by its cover. And I was wrong. That old saying really is true and I'll be damned if this book isn't the best example of not judging a book by its cover I've ever seen. And I'm sorry that so much of my review has focused on something so insignificant, and I'm gonna talk about the book at some point, but I had to get that out. Thanks for indulging me if you made it this far. I'm sorry. Let's discuss the inside of the book. The stuff that actually matters, like the words and stuff, chapters and whatnot. The characters and the story and the mystery and suspense. Oh boy! Here's how I can break it down for you. Noah Hawley is the writer and producer of the amazing FX television series, Fargo. Definitely do yourself a favor and watch that show if you haven't already. I don't watch a ton of TV, and I'm not just saying that because I'm on a book website trying to be all like oh yeah TV hahaha I'd rather be reading obviously. I'm saying that because I have limited time for books and TV in general, and Fargo is worth the time. If you haven't seen the movie then, gee whiz, you have to do that immediately. Stop living under a rock, man. OK so I did all that to say this... reading Before the Fall is like watching a season of an amazing TV show. The beginning of the book was like watching a pilot episode where a plane with a bunch of Donald Trump level rich people crashes and it's super intense and,man, we just gotta find out what the heck happens and there is this crazy story of survival. It's super fast-paced and I felt like the book was gonna push down the gas pedal and never let off. But then you get to episode two and things feel a little different. The mystery is still there, but now we are slowing things down a bit and developing the characters. Each episode kinda starts to focus on a different person from the crash. Then it goes to a deeper level and starts examining the impact the media has on spinning news stories out of control. It hits on what it means to be a "hero" and trying to live a normal, private life again. I mean honestly when I got to the end it didn't feel like the mystery was all that important anymore and not all that shocking and there wasn't this like oh my God huge plot twist moment. And that's why it felt like a good TV show with good writing. I cared about the characters. I cared about what happened. It was giving me something deeper than an episode of Law and Order. It kept me invested without having to keep shocking me or revealing something I never saw coming. There's really just a lot more than a plane crash mystery suspense thriller going on here. It's a very memorable book that will stick with me for a bit. I didn't expect much from it, and I was pleasantly surprised and completely sold after just a few chapters. I guess what I'm saying is you really can't judge a book by its cover, and I'm glad I decided to give this one a shot because it was well worth it. Read Before the Fall, watch Fargo the TV series, and watch the movie if you haven't seen it yet for crying out loud.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    UPDATE......... On sale today for $3.99 (Kindle special)...........I'm jealous! lol.... I paid full price! The movie rights have been signed. So---if you have been considering this book --the price is good at the moment. I'm sure the price will go back up again just before the movie comes out. (we are on to you, Amazon)...ha! "No French philosopher living or dead could convince Jack LaLanne that the problem of man were existential. It was a matter of will, of perseverance, of mind over matter. Wher UPDATE......... On sale today for $3.99 (Kindle special)...........I'm jealous! lol.... I paid full price! The movie rights have been signed. So---if you have been considering this book --the price is good at the moment. I'm sure the price will go back up again just before the movie comes out. (we are on to you, Amazon)...ha! "No French philosopher living or dead could convince Jack LaLanne that the problem of man were existential. It was a matter of will, of perseverance, of mind over matter. Where Sartre saw ennui, Jack saw energy. Where Camus saw pointlessness and death, Jack saw the board-breaking power of repetition". "Jack rose to power in an era of Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, the age of John Wayne. America was the go-getter nation, as far as he was concerned. There was no challenge too great, no obstacle too big". "Jack told us that America was the nation of the future, that we were all on the verge of traveling to a science-fiction nirvana in gleaming rocket ships. "Except, as far as Jack was concerned, we should be running there". Scott Burrough's was fascinated with Jack LaLanne. While on a family vacation in San Francisco... (Scott was only 6 years old).....he watched Jack LaLanne swim in 50 degrees water with a thousand pound boat chained to his waist. Scott watched him swim for 2 miles fighting the currents of the ocean. "What was his fascination with the King of Exercise, if not a fascination with the power of the human spirit?" The only other history Scott knew about Jack LaLanne's personal love life was that he had a wife. What more did anyone need to know about this inspiring man? Think about famous people today who read articles about themselves which are completely manufactured and simply not true. It can begin to poison their self image. Journalism is meant to be objective reporting of facts, no matter how contradictory. You don't make the news fit the story -- At least there was once a time this was true. Reading "Before the Fall", I started to wonder 'when' ( what years?), did the integrity in journalism take a turn? This is a fiction story --- yet the author gets so much right about the creation of fabrication in journalism. "Reinvention used to be a tool of the artist..... to take reality and repurpose it, bend it to an idea.... It was the kingdom of make-believe. A useful tool for the artist...a dangerous tool for the journalist. "A private plane crashes. A man and boy survive" "Information versus entertainment" The reader will be both informed - ( insightfully so) and entertained ( enthralled with your blood pumping fast) The construction of the storytelling is brilliant - scintillating!!!! I seriously could not turn the pages fast enough!!!!! Blockbuster Summer Reader Home Run Hit!!!!!! **A special thanks to my friends for not telling me anything before I had a chance to read this myself! ( now I'll go read your reviews...'with pleasure')

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*

    There were a lot of things I didn't like about this book. It d....r......a.....g.....g.....e.......d. The author postured and pontificated. Take the ordinary household toaster......there is a lengthy passage covering what the household toaster means to different people - to the engineer, to the cook, to itself. I mean really? It brought nothing to the book (except, in my case, dissatisfaction), and there was a great deal of this type of writing. I found myself mid-chapter wandering off to read th There were a lot of things I didn't like about this book. It d....r......a.....g.....g.....e.......d. The author postured and pontificated. Take the ordinary household toaster......there is a lengthy passage covering what the household toaster means to different people - to the engineer, to the cook, to itself. I mean really? It brought nothing to the book (except, in my case, dissatisfaction), and there was a great deal of this type of writing. I found myself mid-chapter wandering off to read the paper, do crosswords/Sudoku and to pop a few pieces into the current jigsaw. However, when the story is actually being told, without all these useless detours up side roads, it is a good story. A great pity the author didn't stick to it. Thank you to NetGalley and publisher Hachette Australia and Hodder & Stoughton for a digital ARC of Before the Fall by Noah Hawley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Shelby *trains flying monkeys*

    A small private jet is leaving Martha's Vineyards, on it is one of the richest guys in politics (I never figured out what he really did) and his wife and two small children. Also included are another rich guy who has been doing some shady business deals and his wife, a poor painter that rich guy number one's wife be-friended and offered a ride and the crew and bodyguards. Sixteen minutes after the plane takes off it crashes. There is only two survivors, the painter, Scott and the young boy. He sw A small private jet is leaving Martha's Vineyards, on it is one of the richest guys in politics (I never figured out what he really did) and his wife and two small children. Also included are another rich guy who has been doing some shady business deals and his wife, a poor painter that rich guy number one's wife be-friended and offered a ride and the crew and bodyguards. Sixteen minutes after the plane takes off it crashes. There is only two survivors, the painter, Scott and the young boy. He swims an unheard of amount of ocean with a dislocated shoulder. How? When he was younger he saw Jack Lalanne swim from Alcatraz tugging a boat. That feat made him join the swim team. He is out of shape but that training stayed with him. After they are rescued the media starts their bull. The FBI and everybody and their mama's are questioning what brought the plane down? Was it terrorist? Was it a bomb? Was it pilot error? Then the turn the blame on Scott the painter. He had to be having an affair with the woman. How did he survive? One of the main blabber mouths that is stirring the pot worked for rich guy number one. He is a controversial talk show host. (asshole) He was about to get his bum fired right before the plane went down but now he is the biggest champion of finding out 'what really happened.' If it boosts his ratings all the better. The book takes you back to before the crash and you get points of view from most of the passengers. (The author does a good job of this.) Scott really tries to hide from the media attention. He wants none of it. He worries about he boy and the fact that the kid is now an orphan. The media attention is spot on in this book. The differences in which our media acts now compared to a few short years ago when they just told the facts is over. Now it has to be sensational or they will make it so. This is a decent book. The only gripe I can find with it is that it is so talky talky..I got bored in spots. I've seen some reviewers that didn't care for the ending..but to me it was perfect. It's amazing that something so base and human can cause a storm for so many people. Booksource: Netgalley in exchange for review. I'm going with highlighting my friend Ann Marie's review on this one. The stars from my friends are all over the place on this one..so you may have to decide for yourself.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kemper

    The main reason I wanted to read this is because I’m such a huge fan of the TV show Fargo. Noah Hawley is the main producer and writer responsible for transforming the great Coen brothers’ movie into something that has risen to the top of my viewing list even during this Golden Age of Television which has filled so many DVRs. If you haven’t seen it yet then watch it right now. Go on. We’ll wait. It’s only two seasons of ten episodes each so it won’t take you that long. Then you’ll be ready to pr The main reason I wanted to read this is because I’m such a huge fan of the TV show Fargo. Noah Hawley is the main producer and writer responsible for transforming the great Coen brothers’ movie into something that has risen to the top of my viewing list even during this Golden Age of Television which has filled so many DVRs. If you haven’t seen it yet then watch it right now. Go on. We’ll wait. It’s only two seasons of ten episodes each so it won’t take you that long. Then you’ll be ready to properly appreciate Hawley’s talents. All done? Good. Let’s talk about the book then. A private plane carrying eleven people crashes in the ocean shortly after takeoff from Martha’s Vineyard. A middle-aged painter named Scott Burroughs survives the impact and saves both himself and a small boy by making a miraculous swim to shore. Scott is at first hailed as a hero, but he wants only to be left alone. Since the plane was also carrying a media tycoon who ran a cable news network and a wealthy financial advisor who was about to be indicted for shady dealings there are a lot of questions about why it crashed. An opinionated bully of a political commentator from the news network uses his show to spin wild conspiracy theories as well as inciting a witch hunt against Scott for having the unmitigated gall to survive while rich and important people died. There’s two parallel stories going on here. The first is a Bridge of San Luis Rey kind of thing where we follow the lives of the people on the plane as well as others impacted by the crash. The second involves Scott trying to cope with the crash and its aftermath. There’s also a mystery lurking in the background of what ultimately did happen on board the jet. A lot of the history and reflections of the characters have to do with wealth. As a person who wasn’t rich and was essentially just hitching a ride because of a chance encounter there’s an interesting dynamic in that Scott was in this bubble of privilege for only moments before being thrown out of it violently. His lack of money and yet being with people who had it in that moment where their bank accounts couldn’t save them is seen as suspicious. The lingering presence of wealth hangs over the backgrounds and actions of the other characters, too. Everyone has to come to terms in some way with how money - serious money – is what makes the world go round. Here’s a bit I particularly liked: “But money, like gravity, is a force that clumps, drawing in more and more of itself, eventually creating the black hole that we know as wealth. This is not simply the fault of humans. Ask any dollar bill and it will tell you it prefers the company of hundreds to the company of ones. Better to be a sawbuck in a billionaire’s account than a dirty single in the torn pocket of an addict.” I wasn’t entirely happy with the ending which seemed rushed and as if it was kind of what Hawley wished could happen in this situation rather than what actually would. Still, this was a very well written story with many profound bits of wisdom about life, death, art, money, media, and air travel gone wrong. It’s the same kind of story telling skill he’s shown himself to be a master of on Fargo. (I received a free copy of this from NetGalley for review.)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    A plane crash, eleven on board, only two survive, Scott a painter with a troubled past and the young boy, J.J. that he manages to save. Like when the Malaysia aircraft went down, there is speculation about why, who. Controversial figures were onboard this plane, could they have been targeted? Is Scott a hero or villain? Either way he has lost his right to privacy. Not an edge of your seat page turner but rather a behind the scenes look at the talking heads we see on our television screen after ev A plane crash, eleven on board, only two survive, Scott a painter with a troubled past and the young boy, J.J. that he manages to save. Like when the Malaysia aircraft went down, there is speculation about why, who. Controversial figures were onboard this plane, could they have been targeted? Is Scott a hero or villain? Either way he has lost his right to privacy. Not an edge of your seat page turner but rather a behind the scenes look at the talking heads we see on our television screen after every disaster, the role of the media in inflating outrage and conspiracies. A look at the lives of each of those who were on the plane. The involvement of all the government agencies, search for the debris field, the bodies and the black boxes. Really an in depth look at what goes on after a disaster, very well done. just loved the character of Scott, who tries to put his future in perspective, after the glare of suspicion falls on him.. Jack Lalane plays a small part, he of the fitness craze of years ago and the man who was unknowingly the motivator for Scott's swimming ability. This book is very well written, constructed well, and holds a fascination for all those who want to know what goes on beyond the public's knowledge. What happens to those who survive a disaster of this magnitude, how it is to be the last man standing. Enjoyed the slow unraveling where at the end we finally find out exactly what happened. ARC from Netgalley.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Zoeytron

    A copy of this was furnished to me by Net Galley in exchange for a review. This is a story of the crash of a private airplane into the ocean, the two who survived, and the ones who did not. More mystery than thriller, it focuses on what brought down the plane, the arrogance of money, and the sleazy journalism tactics employed while reporting the story. Remember when the news on television really was news, with stories confirmed by more than one source and reported in a professional manner? It se A copy of this was furnished to me by Net Galley in exchange for a review. This is a story of the crash of a private airplane into the ocean, the two who survived, and the ones who did not. More mystery than thriller, it focuses on what brought down the plane, the arrogance of money, and the sleazy journalism tactics employed while reporting the story. Remember when the news on television really was news, with stories confirmed by more than one source and reported in a professional manner? It seems the media has turned into a people eater. Throw out the suggestion of something sordid or even the most remote chance of wrongdoing, and watch the piranha-like audience swarm. Chewed up, spat out, and then on to the next unfortunate victim or hero, without a thought of anything except what will play best to the audience. Scare the old folks, titillate the not-so-old, make everyone feel superior to the poor slob whose life has been made newsworthy. And yes-siree bob, they will tune in the next time for more. They deserve to know the "truth", by the gods! The chapter that began with the words 'A walleyed fisherman . . .' made me grin. I can't imagine this was unintentional on the author's part. Just think of the poor guy casting his good eye about looking for a likely looking spot to sink his line . . . only to pull in a walleye. It didn't have anything to do with the story, but it tickled my funny bone. I'm destined to be the odd man out here. I liked it, but didn't love it. It didn't call my name when I wasn't reading, and took an inordinately long time for me to get it read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    I received a copy of Before the Fall by Noah Hawley through NetGalley. My thanks to Grand Central Publishing and to Noah Hawley for the opportunity. "Everyone is from someplace. We all have stories, our lives unfolding along crooked lines, colliding in unexpected ways." When a private jet goes down into the vastness of the ocean on its way to New York, eleven people are caught up in the buzzing headlines of that ill-fated day. Neither fame nor plush leather seats could buy you another day in this I received a copy of Before the Fall by Noah Hawley through NetGalley. My thanks to Grand Central Publishing and to Noah Hawley for the opportunity. "Everyone is from someplace. We all have stories, our lives unfolding along crooked lines, colliding in unexpected ways." When a private jet goes down into the vastness of the ocean on its way to New York, eleven people are caught up in the buzzing headlines of that ill-fated day. Neither fame nor plush leather seats could buy you another day in this wordly paradise. Two unexpected survivors manage to chisel out headlines of their own: one wandering artist with a low-registering pulse in the art field and a tiny four year old boy. Noah Hawley breaks through those tall letters printed as headlines. You and I experience them on a daily basis....just yesterday in Turkey and recently in Orlando. We place value upon statistics and brief snippets of information in sound bites. We lock down emotions. Dare we associate a phantom face with the intensity of the revealed name and identity of the victims that we encounter in print? And that is what Hawley attempts to do here. And this is where our reverence for this novel may go in the crossroads of divided directions. Hawley dismantles the scene of this horrific plane crash, a maudlin mosaic of jagged steel and broken glass, to reveal the backstory of each of his characters. It's episode upon episode of revealing steps that brought each individual to that time and to that place. Hawley's artist character, Scott Burroughs, can be labeled as Everyman or No Man as he literally crawls out of the wreckage of the aftermath of the crash and of its impact on his life. Hawley gives you a front row seat as the Media bangs the drum for him as a hero initially and then.... I enjoyed Before the Fall. I found it to be more of an open terrain revealing the choices that we make in life and the impact, privately and publicly, on friend, family, and stranger alike. I wouldn't be surprised if this one is picked up as a TV series due to the writing talent of Hawley. Hawley lifts the veil draped upon and surrounding "the breaking news"......something we desire to know or something best kept hidden?

  11. 5 out of 5

    LeAnne

    What an excellent surprise, this book that is more observational philosophy than mystery! I was expecting your average three star thriller surrounding the events of a plane crash, but this story was really about the meaning of appearances versus reality. Ted Turner, Rupert Murdoch, and Larry King are morphed with other contemporary news personalities to essentially slur the 24-hour news cycle and all those who feed its machinery. King's infamous suspenders and Murdoch's phone-tapping allegations What an excellent surprise, this book that is more observational philosophy than mystery! I was expecting your average three star thriller surrounding the events of a plane crash, but this story was really about the meaning of appearances versus reality. Ted Turner, Rupert Murdoch, and Larry King are morphed with other contemporary news personalities to essentially slur the 24-hour news cycle and all those who feed its machinery. King's infamous suspenders and Murdoch's phone-tapping allegations are obvious, but they are merely the most recognizable of the amalgam of those who seemingly care more about the story than those who are victims. Shades of Rush Limbaugh, Paris Hilton, Princess Diana, Maury Povich, Nancy Grace, Glenn Beck, George W Bush, and even the Lindberg baby can be glimpsed in this story if you look hard enough. Consider NBC's Brian Williams or even our former Secretary of State, stretching the truth about being under fire in war zones. What is truth and what is just a marketable story? Consider the coverage on the Germanwings crash and the Malaysian jet liners while reading this - what sells better - a depressed, suicidal co pilot, an assassination, mechanical failure, a love triangle gone murderous, or a terrorist missile? There are 11 souls aboard the small jet when it hurtles into a dark summer night over the Atlantic. The last days of the passengers and crew members - those hours that immediately precede the flight - will be shown to us like file film footage. We will view them each before the fall but will only connect deeply with one - one of the survivors. I am not certain if it was intentional skill or just luck, but the author did not give me much emotional connection to these back stories, just as an obituary tells you about a life but cannot make you feel it. My curiosity and understanding were fed, but with the exception of the adult male survivor, the others might have been just faces on TV. I was glad to not be hit with grieving for all these characters - the tale did not become maudlin at all. There is very deft use of nuance throughout the book, especially with the backstory of an artist who once saw Jack LaLanne swim from Alcatraz Island towing a boat. The fact that Jack LaLanne was a reality TV star when it really WAS reality that he was selling was just the absolute perfect tie-in to this story. Perfect. In sum, Before the Fall is an interesting and on-target social commentary on the state of our media today. That juicy center is wrapped up in a mystery that is not the main focus, but more a marketing ploy. Ironically, the mystery of the crash is pushed to the outer rim of our interest just as victims so often are. The news story, as usual, is the story. When you ponder this book carefully, its cleverness sneaks out at you. Very, very good.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    A private plane with 11 people on board crashes into the ocean. There are two survivors, recovering alcoholic and painter, Scott, and a young boy, JJ, the last of an extremely powerful media family. We are given backstories of the crew and passengers, there is intrigue and all manner of unsubstantiated claims are made to fuel the never ending fires of the story. There is a satirical take on the realities of today's media and how it operates. It takes no account of truth nor of how a person's lif A private plane with 11 people on board crashes into the ocean. There are two survivors, recovering alcoholic and painter, Scott, and a young boy, JJ, the last of an extremely powerful media family. We are given backstories of the crew and passengers, there is intrigue and all manner of unsubstantiated claims are made to fuel the never ending fires of the story. There is a satirical take on the realities of today's media and how it operates. It takes no account of truth nor of how a person's life is affected by this. Scott find himself traversing from hero to zero in record time. Accusations and suspicions fly, he must be a terrorist, having an affair with Maggie, etc.. As Scott gains notoriety, he finds his life turned upside down and served as fodder for consumption by the media. JJ's uncle is not above trying to use the little boy. Various stories interweave and amidst it all is the central question and suspense of what happened to the plane. The investigation proceeds slowly but is riveting. This is a well written and intricately plotted story which I very much enjoyed reading. A highlight for me was the relationship between Scott, JJ and Eleanor, the aunt. Entertaining and absorbing read. Thanks to Grand Central Publishing for an ARC.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Debbie "DJ"

    Funny how a book can start out so good, still have me interested half way through, then go downhill. I was fascinated by the plane crash, and how two people managed to survive. The story took an interesting twist as one of the survivors is questioned, could he have had something to do with it? What ensues is a character study of the adult members of the plane. I didn't really mind this, but felt the thrill fading. A lot of interesting questions were asked in regard to hero worship and how societ Funny how a book can start out so good, still have me interested half way through, then go downhill. I was fascinated by the plane crash, and how two people managed to survive. The story took an interesting twist as one of the survivors is questioned, could he have had something to do with it? What ensues is a character study of the adult members of the plane. I didn't really mind this, but felt the thrill fading. A lot of interesting questions were asked in regard to hero worship and how society expects one to act in such situations. It became a big focus of this book, almost more than discovering what happened to bring down the plane. It seemed the story didn't know where to go after this, leading to an anticlamitic ending. Probably not the best read for thriller fans.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    There is no doubt in my mind that Noah Hawley has a summer blockbuster on his hands. This is the kind of book that I would recommend, without qualification, to both my literary friends and those who simply love to get lost in a page-turning thriller. The framework of the book is simple enough: one summer night, a plane takes off carrying the head of a major television network (think: Fox News) and his family, a soon-to-be-indicted wealthy money launderer and his wife, a security detail, the crew There is no doubt in my mind that Noah Hawley has a summer blockbuster on his hands. This is the kind of book that I would recommend, without qualification, to both my literary friends and those who simply love to get lost in a page-turning thriller. The framework of the book is simple enough: one summer night, a plane takes off carrying the head of a major television network (think: Fox News) and his family, a soon-to-be-indicted wealthy money launderer and his wife, a security detail, the crew, and one last minute add-on, a painter named Scott Burroughs who is right on the cusp of fame. Sixteen minutes later, the plane crashes, leaving only Scott and the young son of the television mogul alive. On the most elemental level, this is a an old-fashioned mystery: why would a plane serviced just the day before, flown by top-notch pilots, drop off radar minutes after take-off? Given the importance of the passengers, was the crash deliberate? Does Scott know more than he’s saying? But on a deeper level, this is a book that is unafraid to tackle the bigger questions of a catastrophe: the drawing of false conclusions. The 24/7 news media’s need to sensationalize situations and hound the victims. The way that other people’s tragedies have become blood sport in a world where all news – important or not – is flattened out into an endless entertainment cycle on a “boob tube.” The difficulty of believing in heroes. And the biggest question of all: why are we thriving on parasitical vulture exploitation and how have we gotten so divorced from the things that really matter? Go out and get this book. But first, clear the decks. Once you begin it, it’s going to be hard to stop.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    This is one novel I truly wish I could rate 3.5 Stars. There were parts I could not put down and others I could have passed by, but, bottom line, had to find out what happened.BEFORE THE FALL begins with the crash of a private plane and the heroics of one man, then reverts to give background stories of each of the 11 passengers and crew members telling how they came to be on the downed aircraft. With each story, the reader is provided with possible clues of what caused the disaster.Scott's story This is one novel I truly wish I could rate 3.5 Stars. There were parts I could not put down and others I could have passed by, but, bottom line, had to find out what happened.BEFORE THE FALL begins with the crash of a private plane and the heroics of one man, then reverts to give background stories of each of the 11 passengers and crew members telling how they came to be on the downed aircraft. With each story, the reader is provided with possible clues of what caused the disaster.Scott's story as a young lad, of how he decided to become a swimmer, using good old Jack LaLanne as an inspiration is the best, of course, but how he uses his strength and determination to accomplish an amazing feat while reflecting on his own life's ups and downs is the meat of the novel, "and".......his communication skills dealing with the low-life media man Cunningham......the icing on the cake.While some of the back stories were a bit wordy with details that seemed unnecessary, I still could not stop reading, and the ending, well, it was okay, scary really and plausible.A bit disappointed overall, but am still rounding up.....go figure.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    More character study than story, this was a very interesting book. The shell is a mystery and each chapter focuses on a character or two until everything comes together. While it does get overly poetic at times, I think it serves the story and I was satisfied with both the journey and the outcome. One of my favorite things was its honest portrayal of pop culture and the media and how, together, they skew our view on things with no evidence - just a negative spin on the facts. I found myself wonde More character study than story, this was a very interesting book. The shell is a mystery and each chapter focuses on a character or two until everything comes together. While it does get overly poetic at times, I think it serves the story and I was satisfied with both the journey and the outcome. One of my favorite things was its honest portrayal of pop culture and the media and how, together, they skew our view on things with no evidence - just a negative spin on the facts. I found myself wondering how often I am led to believe that someone or something is nefarious simply because it makes for a good news story. The network spoofed in the story has got to be Fox News.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kelli

    I read much of this and listened to some of it on audio. To me it felt very much like a screenplay. I kept thinking of Lost, more because of the backstories than the plane crash. All tell and no show, I didn't find this overly compelling and I found the segments with the "newscaster" very realistic but exhausting. 3 stars.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Larry H

    Full disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Many thanks to NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for making it available! It's an evening in late August, a little foggy but otherwise uneventful. On Martha's Vineyard, the private plane belonging to David Bateman, the power behind one of the country's major cable news networks, is scheduled to take off and head back to New York. David and his wife Maggie, and their two young children, Full disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Many thanks to NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for making it available! It's an evening in late August, a little foggy but otherwise uneventful. On Martha's Vineyard, the private plane belonging to David Bateman, the power behind one of the country's major cable news networks, is scheduled to take off and head back to New York. David and his wife Maggie, and their two young children, nine-year-old Rachel and four-year-old JJ, are ready to head home, and their friends Sarah and Ben Kipling are joining them on the flight. Maggie has also invited Scott Burroughs, a painter that she has befriended on their many visits to the Vineyard. Scott arrives late, just as the plane was preparing to take off, so he tries to relax. There's music playing, and David and Ben are watching the Boston Red Sox game. Small talk is exchanged, and the flight attendant offers everyone a beverage. And then, inexplicably, 16 minutes after takeoff, the plane plunges into the ocean. Scott regains consciousness in the ocean and begins to realize what has happened. As he tries to find other survivors of the crash, he hears the cries of JJ, apparently the only other person left alive. Despite a shoulder injury, Scott, once a championship swimmer inspired by the legendary Jack LaLanne's swim from Alcatraz when Scott was a boy, swims with JJ nearly 10 miles to shore. As the authorities try to figure out what caused the crash, details are uncovered and theories begin to emerge. Was the plane brought down by someone determined to may David pay for his network's manipulating of popular opinion via the news it broadcasts? Were there other reasons for sabotage, perhaps related to one of the other passengers on board? Were the flight crew trustworthy? Of course, the person in the most blinding spotlight is Scott. While his heroism is heralded, it's also questioned, suspected. How did he wind up on the plane that night? What was his relationship with Maggie? How is he the only adult survivor from a plane full of important people? The media circles, leaving no stone unturned, questioning everything in his past, even the pictures he has painted. And as Scott reaches out to JJ given the bond they shared, there are some suspecting nefarious elements there, too. Before the Fall is a book that doesn't know what it wants to be. Is it a meditation on the fragility of life, the simplicity of luck, and the unconscious act of a hero? Is it a look at how quickly one's life can change, and the beauty of a simple bond between a man and a young child? Is it a portrait of our media-obsessed society, where in an effort to be first to break a story, the media broadcasts what it knows and then makes up what it doesn't, crafting facts to fit the theories they want to espouse? Or is it a thriller, as the authorities (of course, not without the usual pissing match between branches of the government) try to figure out what really did happen on the plane that night? Noah Hawley tries to make this book all of those things, which means it doesn't quite succeed on any of those fronts. It is beautifully written, and Scott is a fascinating character. If the book had concentrated on him and his life following the crash, and how JJ and those around him dealt with the aftermath, I think this would have been stronger and more appealing, at least for me. But the book gets bogged down in looking at the lives of each of the other passengers and crew on board that night, and what brought them to that moment, and then the zealous media coverage of the crash and the suspicions being levied against Scott (particularly by a corrupt anchor on David's network), and it really frustrated me. Since Hawley is the executive producer, writer, and showrunner for the television series Fargo , this book is getting a lot of attention, and is even being hyped as "the thriller of the year." I'd nominate several other books I've read so far this year for that honor (particularly Gregg Hurwitz's Orphan X ), but despite the fact I think Before the Fall suffered from a bit of an identity crisis, it's definitely a worthwhile, compelling read. See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....

  19. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    The first 50 pages of this book were FANTASTIC. Seriously thrilling stuff. But after that great first section, it was a mixed bag. Before the Fall is the story of a private plane that crashed in the ocean after leaving Martha's Vineyard. Who was on the plane? Why were they there? What caused the plane to crash? What happens to the survivors? If you ever saw the show "Lost," which also featured a plane crash, the structure of this novel reminded me of those episodes, in that the book jumps back and The first 50 pages of this book were FANTASTIC. Seriously thrilling stuff. But after that great first section, it was a mixed bag. Before the Fall is the story of a private plane that crashed in the ocean after leaving Martha's Vineyard. Who was on the plane? Why were they there? What caused the plane to crash? What happens to the survivors? If you ever saw the show "Lost," which also featured a plane crash, the structure of this novel reminded me of those episodes, in that the book jumps back and forth between current events and each character's backstory. The author, Noah Hawley, also writes for TV, so it's fitting that his novel reminded me of a TV show. At times this technique worked great, and at other times, it was tedious. (Hey, that's also true of Lost!) My favorite character in the book was Scott, one of only two people to survive the crash. (That's not a spoiler. You learn this in the first few pages.) I loved Scott's backstory about how he became a swimmer, which helped him survive in the ocean. Scott is also a painter, and he was a surprise guest on the plane that day. After the crash, the media decided Scott was suspicious and he was hounded by the press, and also questioned by investigators. Unfortunately, there were a lot of characters in the book who were unlikeable, including a Roger-Ailes-type TV executive, and a Bill-O'Reilly-type TV host, which was partly why it took me so long to finish this book. I got stalled because I disliked those characters so much, and their storylines took up a significant chunk of the novel. To be frank, I hate 24-hour news channels, especially ones whose name rhymes with Schmox News. So reading a novel that features huge sections about Schmox-News-esque figures wasn't fun or delightful — it was actually painful. But I have to give some credit to Hawley here, it was so difficult to read those parts because his story rang true. The plot points in the novel could have come from real life, and that mirror image of our media culture is disturbing. At this point you might be wondering why I rated this book 4 stars, considering how frustrated I got with it. Well, the thing is, it's still a good story, and it's a decent thriller. Mostly I enjoyed the book while I was reading, and there was some satisfaction in how the story turned out. Hawley does have one writing quirk I wish he would fix in future works: often when a character is asked a question, Hawley wrote, "Scott thinks about this." Or, "Scott thought about that." This phrase happened so frequently that I couldn't believe an editor didn't catch it. I listened to most of this book on audio, and that reaction really stood out. Maybe it's not as noticeable in print. So, bottom line, would you recommend this novel? Diane thinks about this. Diane looks at you, wonders if you're a more laidback reader than she is. Finally, she says, "Definitely." Favorite Quotes "Everyone has their path. The choices they've made. How any two people end up in the same place at the same time is a mystery. You get on an elevator with a dozen strangers. You ride a bus, wait in line for the bathroom. It happens every day. To try to predict the places we'll go and the people we'll meet would be pointless." "Floating in the North Atlantic, Scott realizes that he has never been more clear about who he is, his purpose. It's so obvious. He was put on this earth to conquer this ocean, to save this boy." "It is the job of the human brain to assemble all the input of our world — sighs, sounds, smells — into a coherent narrative. This is what memory is, a carefully calibrated story that we make up about our past. But what happens when those details crumble? ... What happens when your life can't be translated into a linear narrative?"

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jaline

    This is a haunting, soul-stirring novel of a tragic plane crash that leaves nine people dead and two survivors. There are so many layers to this novel, it is difficult to describe without spoiling the entire story. In some summaries I have seen, Scott Burroughs, the survivor who saves the life of 4 year old JJ, is portrayed as a has-been, or a down-and-out painter, and so forth. This isn’t true. Granted, Scott has lived a life overflowing with addictions, bad habits, and the lack of moral sense t This is a haunting, soul-stirring novel of a tragic plane crash that leaves nine people dead and two survivors. There are so many layers to this novel, it is difficult to describe without spoiling the entire story. In some summaries I have seen, Scott Burroughs, the survivor who saves the life of 4 year old JJ, is portrayed as a has-been, or a down-and-out painter, and so forth. This isn’t true. Granted, Scott has lived a life overflowing with addictions, bad habits, and the lack of moral sense that goes with them. However, when the plane goes down he has turned his life around and is on his way to meetings set up to showcase his latest body of work. He is also in top physical condition after years of abuse, and it is why he is able to effect the miraculous survival and rescue of himself and the little boy. Tabloid media get involved in this story from the beginning and because Scott is still recovering mentally and emotionally from the tragedy and its aftermath, to communicate with them is one more mountain he cannot make himself climb. Typically, this sets up a feeding frenzy of wild speculation and underhanded information creation from the media. Add to that the presence of key wealthy and powerful people on board the plane, and the FBI and various other agencies also become involved, sandwiching Scott between them. This is as far as I want to go with the plot in this review, because you simply must read this book for yourself. The suspense is almost crushing at times and deeply, touchingly sad and poignant as the back stories of all the crew and passengers come to light. This occurs in parallel with the days it takes authorities to find the wreck in the ocean and reconstruct what happened to cause this plane to crash less than 20 minutes into its flight. Reading the chapters of each crew member and passenger who perished is an experience unlike anything I have felt before from a book. Underlying the happy, the sad, the good, the bad, and the normal of each person’s life is the knowledge that this is the final story we will hear about these people. The impact of that is beyond description and needs to be felt first-hand. This book is amazing; the writing is outstanding, the characters are real enough to touch, and the detailing of the plot flawless. This read is 5-Stars and then some.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    A private jet carrying eleven people crashes into the ocean on its way from Martha's Vineyard to NYC. Against all odds, one of the passengers, Scott Burroughs, a fine art painter, survives the crash, finds the one other survivor, the four year old son of the executive who chartered the plane, and starts to swim ten miles to shore with the boy. Something brushes against his leg. He freezes, starts to sink, then has to kick his legs to stay afloat. Shark, he thinks. You have to stay still. But if he s A private jet carrying eleven people crashes into the ocean on its way from Martha's Vineyard to NYC. Against all odds, one of the passengers, Scott Burroughs, a fine art painter, survives the crash, finds the one other survivor, the four year old son of the executive who chartered the plane, and starts to swim ten miles to shore with the boy. Something brushes against his leg. He freezes, starts to sink, then has to kick his legs to stay afloat. Shark, he thinks. You have to stay still. But if he stops moving he'll drown. He rolls over on his back, breathing deeply to inflate his chest. He has never been more aware of his tenuous place on the food chain.This push to survive against incredible odds is truly gripping. The rest of the novel repeatedly jumps from past to present and back again. There are flashbacks to the past as it explores the lives of each of the nine people who died in the crash: the executive of a conservative cable channel, his wife and nine year old daughter, their Israeli bodyguard, the money manager under an SEC investigation for money laundering, his wife, the crew. Hawley examines the the good and the ugly things in each of their lives, humanizing the tragedy of their loss. In between, we follow the aftermath of the crash, including its effects on the lives of Scott and the boy, JJ, those who care about them, and those who just want to use them, interspersed with detailed descriptions of Scott's disaster-themed series of paintings. There's also the official investigation and the search for the wrecked plane at the bottom of the ocean. The novel slowly works its way around to unfolding the mystery of why the crash happened, with a few red herrings along the way to make life interesting, along with some actual clues. I thought the final explanation of the reason for the crash was just a little anticlimactic, and I wasn't enamored with the subplot that involves a Fox News-like TV commentator, a horrible person who is the face of media frenzy, spinning news until it's not recognizable as news any longer. But these are fairly minor complaints. Even before the crash, Scott Burroughs is haunted by disasters, some of them caused by his own life choices.He was a disaster survivor in that he had survived the disaster that was his life. And so that's what he painted.Ultimately this is a novel about coping with whatever disasters life might bring, large or small, and being a survivor. It's a solid, tense novel and a compelling story, but it was the periodic flashes of insight that made it a memorable read for me. I received a free copy of this ebook from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for a review. Thank you!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    I'm a little late to this party, as this was one of 2016's "it" thrillers. This is written by Noah Hawley, who in addition to writing four other novels, is also an award winning television screenwriter, and wrote and produced the awesome tv series Fargo. As is quite evident by the book's cover, Before the Fall tells the mysterious story of a plane crash, in a private jet on its way to New York over the Atlantic ocean. Why did the plane crash? Was it a conspiracy? Does it have to do with one of t I'm a little late to this party, as this was one of 2016's "it" thrillers. This is written by Noah Hawley, who in addition to writing four other novels, is also an award winning television screenwriter, and wrote and produced the awesome tv series Fargo. As is quite evident by the book's cover, Before the Fall tells the mysterious story of a plane crash, in a private jet on its way to New York over the Atlantic ocean. Why did the plane crash? Was it a conspiracy? Does it have to do with one of the 11 people on board, one of which was set to be jailed for laundering "bad" money, another the owner of a news station whose anchor was tapping phones to get the edge on the stories he covered. Not much is known, except a floundering painter and ex-alcoholic, Scott, survives, along with a four year old boy who he rescues in a bone chilling exertion. As he unfolds the keys to the mystery, Hawley introduces us, one by one, to each person on the private jet, giving us enough to see their individuality and the path that leads them to the plane. At first glance, this is a closed door mystery, an old fashioned whodunit. But it is more than that. It's a criticism of the media, the black and white way people are either demonized or made into heroes, the way things are oversimplified in order to make headlines, and the amoral methods used to get the juiciest details. People cease to be seen as human beings - humanity is sucked out for the sake of sensationalism. It also takes a hard look at money, its trappings, what it does to some people who have it or want it above all. The abundance of money is painted in a very false and empty way. The richest character in the book lives in a house completely void of colour, knowing if someone approaches her it's because of her bank account or for sex. The story also deals with fate - I mean, what are the chances that anyone would survive this crash? And what are the chances that one of them would be a painter who is obsessed with disasters, including plane crashes. And that this painter's childhood hero was Jack Lalanne, who swam to Alcatraz, dragging a boat behind him, inspiring him to join the swim team. What are the chances that he would find the boy, and because of his body's determination, find the shore? What does fate have in store for him after the crash? How will his life look after this incredible fall? This was much more than a "page-turner". I look forward to seeing what Noah Hawley writes next.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Norma * Traveling Sister

    I have read some really good books lately and this is one of them. BEFORE THE FALL by NOAH HAWLEY was an enjoyable and a memorable read which I will be thinking and talking about in the future when sharing this book with my family. Books get shared with my sister, daughter-in-law & my mom! It makes me so happy to be able to share my books with others! That is part of the excitement for me when I have read a really good book. Part One of BEFORE THE FALL was an absolutely fantastic and on the I have read some really good books lately and this is one of them. BEFORE THE FALL by NOAH HAWLEY was an enjoyable and a memorable read which I will be thinking and talking about in the future when sharing this book with my family. Books get shared with my sister, daughter-in-law & my mom! It makes me so happy to be able to share my books with others! That is part of the excitement for me when I have read a really good book. Part One of BEFORE THE FALL was an absolutely fantastic and on the edge of your seat thrilling read then I found Part Two and the conclusion not as exciting but I was definitely still engaged and it was hard to put down. The plot was extremely well executed with some actual facts thrown in and the storyline was believable which could have come from real life events. I found the title and cover of this book very fitting and for the most part liked NOAH HAWLEY'S writing style but not so much the way some of the dialogue was presented as it was a bit distracting. I found the book was easy to follow along with the characters and the storyline. Scott Burroughs was my most favourite character who was one of the two people to have survived the horrific plane crash. I liked the way that the author structured the book from multiple points of view that jumped back and forth between the present and with a backstory on each of the characters revealing information that brought them all to that fateful plane crash. It was an enjoyable, fast-paced and interesting read with a satisfying ending. Would recommend!! All of our Traveling Sisters Reviews can be found on our sister blog: http://www.twogirlslostinacouleereadi...

  24. 4 out of 5

    RedemptionDenied

    When I bought this a few months back - I didn't know it was from the creator/writer of the TV series' Fargo, which would explain the humour throughout the book. A private aircraft departs from Martha's Vineyard to New York in foggy conditions; with eight passenger's and three crew members on-board the Ospray 700 SL, which was manufactured in Kansas. The flight under normal conditions should take about twenty nine minutes but, sixteen minutes into the flight, the aircraft crashes into the Atlantic When I bought this a few months back - I didn't know it was from the creator/writer of the TV series' Fargo, which would explain the humour throughout the book. A private aircraft departs from Martha's Vineyard to New York in foggy conditions; with eight passenger's and three crew members on-board the Ospray 700 SL, which was manufactured in Kansas. The flight under normal conditions should take about twenty nine minutes but, sixteen minutes into the flight, the aircraft crashes into the Atlantic - and there are only two survivors: Scott Burrough's, a painter, and JJ, the four-year-old son of David Bateman, who is a wealthy and powerful media mogul (President) - of the twenty four hour news network - ALC News. Scott was invited onto the flight by David Bateman's wife, Maggie, who saw him at the Farmers Market - she also saw her friend, Sarah Kipling, and she got an invite, too. The plane nearly left without him but, he just about made it as the door was closing, so that was stroke of luck. Now Scott is fighting for his life in the Atlantic Ocean with a four-year-old boy and he has no idea which way to swim in order to reach land plus, he has a dislocated shoulder. He hazards a guess, then realises he was on the verge of going in the wrong direction, which would have taken him further away from land. Luckily, there was a brief parting in the fog; so he was able to navigate by the constellations. Even luckier; when Scott was six, he was with his family watching a man, Jack Lahanne, swim from Alcatraz Island to the mainland pulling a thousand pound boat whilst his wrists were tied together - which gave Scott the inspiration to join the swim team. Some of the descriptions of Lahanne were quite funny. The story alternates between the aftermath of the crash and the back-stories of those aboard the fatal flight. We also have the backstories of some of the people affected by the tragedy. I would have liked to have had some back-story of Special Agent Walter. O'Brien of the FBI - as that may have given some insight as to why he was such an asshole. Actually, most of the characters had flaws, but none of them were of the same calibre as O'brien. He was in a league of his own. Must have taken him years of practice perfecting the art. So basically, this is a book of two mysteries; one being a plane crash, the other.....and only one them gets solved. Anyway, Scott eventually reaches land, and he's a hero to some, and a person of interest to others. He tries to keep a low profile but, that can only go on for so long. Every opportunity he gets he keeps making bad decisions, and as an artist it doesn't help that he paints disasters: train wrecks, tornados, plane crashes, etcetera, so he comes under suspicion. Why did he and the boy survive, and none of the other passengers? One of the passengers, Ben Kipling, was on the verge of being indicted for laundering money, so did that have something to do with the crash? Was it an act of terrorism? Pilot error? Or mechanical failure? One things for sure: Scott wasn't prepared for the media circus that follows. I had a few issues with some of the dialogue: incomplete sentences, where characters would say something like - 'I mean - well, maybe - no, hang on, what I meant to say was,' etcetera. And it was like that with the majority of the cast. As if they were course correcting everything they said or, thinking better of saying certain things at the last possible moment. So the writing style took a bit of getting used to. In summation: I really enjoyed the book, it was interesting and funny. Most of the cast were unlikable (not just O'Brien) - although, their back-stories were intriguing. I'll have to check out other novels by the author, sometime.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Melisa

    This is a clear cut case of "it's not you, it's me." This book was not for me, please take my review with a grain of salt. I was under the impression that this was a thriller/suspense novel, and I didn't get that vibe at all from this book. It was quite slow in parts, and though there is the mystery of the plane crash, I came to the point of not even caring what happened. It is an interesting look at today's world of entertainment, and perception vs. reality. I also thought the format of the book This is a clear cut case of "it's not you, it's me." This book was not for me, please take my review with a grain of salt. I was under the impression that this was a thriller/suspense novel, and I didn't get that vibe at all from this book. It was quite slow in parts, and though there is the mystery of the plane crash, I came to the point of not even caring what happened. It is an interesting look at today's world of entertainment, and perception vs. reality. I also thought the format of the book was interesting, I enjoyed how the chapters were broken down into individual backgrounds, however I didn't enjoy the individual backgrounds themselves. All in all, I would give this book 2.5 stars rounded up. Thank you, Netgalley, for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Susanne Strong

    Well written, suspenseful and full of surprises. Before the Fall is a book containing extremely rich (no pun intended) characters, most of whom are quite flawed; some are likeable (Scott, Eleanor & Gus), some are detestable (Bill & Doug, etc.). Throughout the book, everyone is trying to figure out who or what caused the crash, That is the mystery.. Who are the good guys? Are there good guys or is everyone so fatally flawed that it makes them sinister? Scott at first, is portrayed as the Well written, suspenseful and full of surprises. Before the Fall is a book containing extremely rich (no pun intended) characters, most of whom are quite flawed; some are likeable (Scott, Eleanor & Gus), some are detestable (Bill & Doug, etc.). Throughout the book, everyone is trying to figure out who or what caused the crash, That is the mystery.. Who are the good guys? Are there good guys or is everyone so fatally flawed that it makes them sinister? Scott at first, is portrayed as the hero though the media slowly tries to shatter that image, simply because, well, it makes for a better story. Several thought provoking issues are brought up, via the media coverage of the events after the Fall, that make me wonder: 1) How much of the news reported today is real and how much is trumped up?; and 2) How far do journalists really go to get the story? (I guess those questions could be answered by Brian Williams. :-)) Noah Hawley did an excellent job of providing back stories for each of the characters. He then wove them together beautifully leading up to the events of the mysterious fall. The book's pace never slows keep the reader's interest until the end. In truth, it was an extremely satisfying read that I wished wouldn't have to end.. I wanted to follow Scott whenever he went, but what would that make me? A stalker or worse, the Paparazzi? Lol. :-) Published: June 8, 2016 Published on Goodreads and Amazon

  27. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    An entertaining summer read. The Hook A disaster and a hero. Can’t hurt that Author, Noah Hawley is creator of the TV Fargo. The Line ” How any two people end up in the same place at the same time is a mystery.” The Sinker – I loved the beginning pages of Before the Fall. Then I found myself losing interest only to regain the flow only to be disappointed in the end and wanting to make a noise like they do on Antique Roadshow when the value goes down. Hype has raised it’s ugly head once again. Too An entertaining summer read. The Hook A disaster and a hero. Can’t hurt that Author, Noah Hawley is creator of the TV Fargo. The Line ” How any two people end up in the same place at the same time is a mystery.” The Sinker – I loved the beginning pages of Before the Fall. Then I found myself losing interest only to regain the flow only to be disappointed in the end and wanting to make a noise like they do on Antique Roadshow when the value goes down. Hype has raised it’s ugly head once again. Too many glowing reviews, too many promises claiming Before the Fall ”the thriller of the year”. Eleven passengers board a private plane on Martha’s Vineyard. Ten were privileged, the last, a broke, would be artist, fasten their seat belts for the quick ride to New York. Disaster strikes, the plane crashes, the artist survives and miraculously saves the life of the four-year old son of the wealthy owner of the jet. These opening pages are the ones that kept me turning the pages. As you might expect the balance of the story is concerned with “what the heck happened?” and who or what was responsible for the crash. There are plenty of suspects and motive abounds. I enjoyed learning the back-stories of all who boarded the plane. To his credit Hawley formats the getting to the answers quite well even given the spoiler I am adding. (view spoiler)[ I saw the ending coming, almost from the beginning. It was ordinary as life often is. Perhaps this ordinariness was the author’s intent. (hide spoiler)] Well written, fast paced, good character development but not edge of the seat, hold your breath thrilling for me. Did I mention Jack LaLanne plays an important part in the telling? Now that part was excellent.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    4.5 stars I have always been intrigued by plane crashes. More in the 'oh there's an accident, let me see what is going on' kind of fascination. So much mystery involved: Why did it crash-was it foul play or a mechanical issue? Did the passengers know what was happening? There are still many unanswered questions about some major plane crashes today, with teams of people and tons of money devoted to trying to find some answers. This is a book about one such fictional plane crash, with a total of 11 4.5 stars I have always been intrigued by plane crashes. More in the 'oh there's an accident, let me see what is going on' kind of fascination. So much mystery involved: Why did it crash-was it foul play or a mechanical issue? Did the passengers know what was happening? There are still many unanswered questions about some major plane crashes today, with teams of people and tons of money devoted to trying to find some answers. This is a book about one such fictional plane crash, with a total of 11 on board and only 2 survivors. As the story unfolds, so does the drama. While this is no way suspenseful, it certainly provides a great mystery to solve. And unlike some of today's real life crashes, the author was kind enough to provide the reader with an answer to the mystery--one that I was completely satisfied with. Every character's past is dissected (both victim's and survivor's) weaving back and forth between their past and back into the present where a full scale investigation is ongoing and fingers are being pointed everywhere. I don't know how accurate all of the investigative parts are, but it sure was a fascinating look at the 'behind the scenes' of what can take place during an investigation. I highly recommend this well-constructed page turner. I haven't read anything like it before, and it was a breathe of fresh air! My thanks to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ “In the absence of facts, we tell ourselves stories.” Lucky you. You get two of my reviews on the same day! I check out so many books at the same time with every intention of promptly reviewing them . . . . So what am I doing today? Well, if my boss asks I’ve been working diligently. However, since it’s the day before a holiday errrrryone pretty much knows that isn’t true so I’ve actually been downloading pornography from the library Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ “In the absence of facts, we tell ourselves stories.” Lucky you. You get two of my reviews on the same day! I check out so many books at the same time with every intention of promptly reviewing them . . . . So what am I doing today? Well, if my boss asks I’ve been working diligently. However, since it’s the day before a holiday errrrryone pretty much knows that isn’t true so I’ve actually been downloading pornography from the library. Because this person and this person are bookpushy assholes and I have no willpower. And now I’m going to try and review a legit book and expect to be taken seriously? No, not really. Here are some pictures and you can decide if you want to read this or not. Before the Fall is about . . . . Confession: I am morbidly fascinated by airplane crashes (there was a missing plane reported on the news this morning and I. COULD. NOT. pull myself away from the television). Because of this creepy fixation I will most likely never get on a plane again . . . but I sure as shit like reading about ‘em! Anyway, like I said the main plot point that ties everything/every character together is a plane crash. The plane belongs to a media mogul . . . . (Only not 417 years old) Who has invited a super creepy businessman . . . . To accompany them on the private jet from Martha’s Vineyard back to NYC. Their wives are also on the flight, but who gives a crap about millionaire’s wives, right???? Plus, they’ll be dead in 16 minutes away. The real focus is on survivors Scott, a painter of unusual images, and the media mogul’s 4 year old son (again, not a lot of character development on that one which is good because, in case you haven’t been around them, 4 year olds are kind of douchebags). Scott pulls off a real Jack Lallane by swimming with a dislocated shoulder through shark infested waters (yes, I know it’s ridiculous Ron, but sometimes you just gotta channel your inner Elsa and let it go) . . . . The rest of the story does the wibbly wobbly timey wimey in order to provide the deceased passenger’s backstories as well as the aftermath of how Scott and J.J. deal with surviving the tragedy. It also features a shockjock type of news anchor who was one of the most punchable characters I read in 2016 . . . . This was a Goodreads Choice Awards this year for “Best Mystery Thriller.” Like most of the selections for those awards, I found the category selection misleading at best and asinine at worst. While Before the Fall does have a bit of a “mystery” vibe included with respect to figuring out exactly what happened to make the plane crash this was more of a character study. I didn’t keep turning pages because I was on the edge of my seat, but because I was generally interested in reading more about these peoples’ lives. The writing was solid, it flowed well and at a great pace and it was just a good book. Recommended.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    “Scott thinks back. The takeoff, the offered glass of wine. Images flash through his mind, an astronaut’s vertigo, a blare. Metal shrieking. The disorienting whirl. Like a movie negative that has been cut and reassembled at random. It is the job of the human brain to assemble all the input of our world – sights, sounds, smells – into a coherent narrative. This is what memory is, a carefully calibrated story that we make up about our past. But what happens when those details crumble? Hailstones o “Scott thinks back. The takeoff, the offered glass of wine. Images flash through his mind, an astronaut’s vertigo, a blare. Metal shrieking. The disorienting whirl. Like a movie negative that has been cut and reassembled at random. It is the job of the human brain to assemble all the input of our world – sights, sounds, smells – into a coherent narrative. This is what memory is, a carefully calibrated story that we make up about our past. But what happens when those details crumble? Hailstones on a tin roof. Fireflies firing at random. What happens when your life can’t be translated into a linear narrative?” - Noah Hawley, Before the Fall The premise is simple: A small private plane, carrying eleven people, crashes into the seas off Martha’s Vineyard. All die, except for two: a struggling artist on the wrong side of forty, and a four year-old boy. A mystery arises. What caused this plane to crash? In order to answer that, a second riddle must be solved: What brought all these people onto this plane in the first place? Also, I should mention: the ocean off of Martha’s Vineyard is full of red herrings. I came to Before the Fall because of Noah Hawley. He is the creator of Fargo on FX, a dazzling show that often gets overlooked in this era of Peak T.V. When you read the description of this book, about an inexplicable plane crash that focuses intently on the lives of its passengers, you think to yourself, I’ve heard this before. But part of Hawley’s genius, as he proves with Fargo, is his ability to take something familiar and make it feel original. Hawley starts things off by putting us on the plane with a bunch of strangers, people we have not met, but who are in the middle of their lives. Very quickly, most of them are dead, except for the painter, Scott Burroughs, and the four year-old, JJ, who is the heir to a multimillion dollar fortune. Scott and JJ are plunged into the Atlantic, where Scott channels his inner Jack LaLanne (who is used in cameo to marvelous effect): Around him the sea is pockmarked and ever changing. Swimming, he tries not to think about the great tracts of open water. He tries not to picture the depth of the ocean or how the Atlantic in August is the birthplace of massive storm fronts, hurricanes that form in the cold troughs of undersea gorges, weather patterns colliding, temperature and moisture forming huge pockets of low pressure. Global forces conspiring, barbarian hordes with clubs and war paint who charge shrieking into the fray, and instantly the sky thickens, blackens, an ominous gale of lightning strikes, huge claps of thunder like the screams of battle, and the sea, which moments ago was calm, turns to hell on earth. Scott swims in the fragile calm, trying to empty his mind. Something brushes up against his leg… At a certain point, the linear narrative fractures, and Before the Fall presents as a puzzle with many of the pieces withheld. Playing off one of his themes, the failings of human memory, Hawley gives us a series of fragments, many consisting of wonderful vignettes. Most of these cutaways are flashbacks to the lives of the people on the plane, and Hawley manages to generate a surreal kind of power in giving the breath of life to men and women he has already killed. Some of the vignettes are mundane (we join one man for a uneventful meal with his mother), while some are extraordinary (such as the story of a legendary Israeli security guard), but each is tinged with the resonance of knowing all are doomed. Death gives even banal occurrences a kind of profundity. (There are also interludes with characters who were not on the plane. These include a right-wing talk show host modeled after Alex Jones; an NTSB investigator; and the surviving sister of one of the victims. Frankly, these sections are not nearly as interesting as Hawley intends. The farther Hawley drifts from the plane crash, the novel's animating event, the less necessary certain characters feel). Before the Fall works best as a character study. Though we are only given flashes and glimpses of the passengers, it is enough to give almost everyone real dimensions. More than that, they are compelling enough to carry their own storylines, even though this is an ensemble piece. The problem here, if it is a problem, is that Before the Fall also purports to be a thriller. It teases you with the prospect of a twist ending. As the story progresses, Hawley keeps adding intrigue, reasons that the plane might have been targeted for takedown. More than that, as we cycle through the flashbacks, we start to see connections between all the passengers, and not simply the ones who already know each other. At this point, the comparison to ABC’s Lost become impossible to ignore. Remember Lost? I don’t blame you if you don’t. For three years, it was the best television show on the air, a worldwide phenomenon about plane crash survivors on a strange island. As the show progresses, a series of flashbacks portended the hand of fate or some other power in bringing those people to the island. The show thrived on teasing the audience with vague hints and tiny clues, snippets of dialogue, character names, even the titles of books on shelves. Millions of people theorized, and dissected, and drew elaborate flow charts. In the end, though, the show collapsed in a heap, and all was revealed to be smoke, mirrors, and misdirection. What had felt philosophically deep and thematically reverberating turned out to be as hollow as the Tin Man’s chest. The show tied itself into a Gordian knot, shrugged its shoulders, and reached for the Korin Gyuto. That sort of happens here. As I read Before the Fall, I took notes, I kept track of crossing paths, and I tried to divine the outcome. When I came to the end, I realized it had been a waste of time. This bothered me for a moment. It might bother you, depending on what you are looking for in this book. If you are seeking a mind blowing Gone Girl kind of finale, you will probably feel cheated. I actually came into this with tempered expectations. A friend had told me that he found the ending to be a letdown. Thus, before I started, I was prepared for a certain level of discontent. But as I got deeper into Before the Fall, I began to forget about my friend’s warning. I began to wonder if we’d even read the same book. In the end, his analysis was correct. And despite my emotional preparation, I felt burned. But as I prepared to write this review, I quickly flipped through my notes. In doing so, I found a Post-It stuck to the back cover. I had written it about halfway through Before the Fall, as I was laying on the couch on a blessedly-lazy Saturday afternoon. The message: Remember: As of right now, you are enjoying this. It was a good reminder. If Before the Fall didn’t quite stick a Kerri Strug-like landing, that’s okay. I had fun reading this. A lot of fun. This is like a rollercoaster. It doesn’t take you anywhere, but it’s a great ride.

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