From the publisher:
On a foggy summer night, eleven people—ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter—depart Martha’s Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs—the painter—and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.
With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew members—including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot—the mystery surrounding the tragedy heightens. As the passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy. Was it merely by dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations. And while Scott struggles to cope with fame that borders on notoriety, the authorities scramble to salvage the truth from the wreckage.
Amid pulse-quickening suspense, the fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this stunning novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together.
This is one of those books that absolutely everyone is talking about, and for good reason. The novel starts out with a bang – literally – as there is a plane crash within the first few pages, and it continues to move at an extremely rapid pace as the two survivors fight for their lives, swimming miles and miles to get to shore and finally surviving both the crash and their arduous journey to safety. The rest of the book goes back and forth in time, shedding light for the reader on the lives of everyone before the crash while at the same time, letting the reader see the way the crash affected the two survivors and their relationship with each other. I loved that the story was told that way – it gave me such a complex and complete view of these characters, but slowly, over the course of the book.
There is definitely a thriller aspect to Before the Fall, but I wouldn’t put it firmly in that category. A lot of time is spent getting to know the characters and seeing how the various players were involved with one another and, in some cases, basically strangers. Much can be said of the fact that they were all keeping secrets, all hiding major things which could have possibly contributed to the reason for the crash – that’s the suspenseful part of the book. The suspenseful part is the fact that you KNOW one of these people was somehow, directly or indirectly, responsible for this horrific thing that happened, but it could be so many of them for so many reasons. I guessed a lot of things but didn’t figure it out until the very end – Hawley did a great job leading me astray, that is for sure.
Several people I’ve spoken to about this book didn’t like the ending at all. I’m not sure that I quite fall into that camp but I definitely didn’t love the ending, either. It felt like a cop-out just a bit, although it was definitely plausible. I don’t know. I liked the book so much that I kind of don’t care how I feel about the ending, does that make sense?
Anyway. Before the Fall. I liked it a lot. Definitely recommended!