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If I Die Before I Wake
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If I Die Before I Wake

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  1,241 ratings  ·  307 reviews
How Do You Solve Your Own Murder?

Everyone believes Alex is in a coma, unlikely to ever wake up. As his family debate withdrawing life support, and his friends talk about how his girlfriend Bea needs to move on, he can only listen.

But Alex soon begins to suspect that the accident that put him here wasn’t really an accident. Even worse, the perpetrator is still out there and
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published January 11th 2018 by Harvill Secker
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3.64  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,241 ratings  ·  307 reviews

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Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is an original crime mystery with a narrative delivered entirely from the perspective of 27 year old Alex Jackson, a passionate rock climber and journalist on the Bristol Post. He is living with girlfriend Bea, whom he met when working in a Canadian camp on his gap year. He loves Bea completely although their relationship has its ups and downs. The novel begins with Alex having a climbing accident that leaves him in a coma, suffering from locked in syndrome. He is aware of what is going on ...more
Melissa (Mel’s Bookshelf)
I am so conflicted about this book! Torn in two!
The first part of me thinks "WOW! What an interesting and original idea for a story! Brilliant!" However, the other part of me was severely underwhelmed by it.

After a rock climbing accident, Alex is in a hospital bed, unable to move or talk, or do anything at all except think, listen, and feel the world around him. Everyone thinks he is in a coma, with no brain activity. Can he make them see that he is awake? Before the person who caused his "accid
The horror Alex felt when he woke to tubes, strange sounds and the unfathomable feeling of being unable to move, talk or see, shocked him to his core. As he gradually discovered by listening to the nurses and his girlfriend, Bea, as well as his Dad and sister Phillipa – he had had an accident with his last climb. He was in a coma and had been for over a year. They were saying he was in a vegetative state, unaware of his surroundings, unable to hear anything. But they were wrong – he could hear; ...more
Dec 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
An interesting concept that reminded me somewhat of The Lovely Bones, this thriller is told by Alex from his hospital bed, seemingly lost to his friends and family in a coma. Following what was originally thought to be a climbing accident, Alex is conscious but has no means of communicating his awareness to those around him, and when he realises there are questions about what happened that fateful day, he bends his mind to working out just who may have hurt him.

The pain and emotional trauma fel
Rachel Hall
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If I Die Before I Wake is a startlingly original crime fiction debut which remains singularly captivating from beginning to end and has an eloquence all of its own. This story is narrated in its entirety by twenty-seven-year-old Alex Jackson, a journalist at the Bristol Post and an ardent rock climber until two years ago when a fall in the Avon Gorge left him in a coma and suffering from locked-in syndrome. The doctors believe he faces little chance of ever waking up and is unaware of what is go ...more
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is told from Alex's view point, he is in a coma and everyone gives him little hope of any improvement. He lies motionless in an hospital bed but can hear the goings on around him. Alex is torn between wanting to die and wanting to live. Unable to communicate he tries to work out what has happened to him and how he has ended up in a coma, and fears he may still in danger.
This is an excellent read and I will be looking out for more books by this author in the future.

I would like to thank
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Imagine being trapped inside your own mind,you can't move any part of your body,you can see but only every now and then and then that's only blurry images.The only thing that is working properly is your hearing and you are forced to listen while others decide wether you have a future or not.That's the nightmare world that Alex Jackson has found himself trapped in.Everyone believes that he is in a coma and is unlikely to wake up and all he can do is lie in his hospital bed and listen.As time pass ...more
Sep 03, 2017 rated it liked it
I know that this book is not going to be published until January. Plus, I have plenty of books on my reading list that I should be reading first. But I felt like I just needed something a bit different, something that stood out from the fray– what would fit the bill better than a mystery told from the POV of a character in a permanent vegetative state, his active mind trapped in a lifeless body and unable to communicate? I just couldn’t resist!

Alex is in a coma, unable to move his body, eat, sp
Liz Barnsley
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Still a fair few to go in my “Ones to Watch in 2018” feature and next up we have a tense and brilliantly edge of the seat psychological thriller – If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch.

Now this is one of those books that grips you from the outset to the point that you ignore everything else until you are done. 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
Joanne Robertson
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is another book that I nearly missed out on and I could kick myself for not reading it earlier! I think I was put off it as I’m not a big fan of the coma as a plot twist but this book certainly brought an intriguing idea to life in a unique and beautifully written narrative. I really was surprised at how difficult I found it to put this book down! And I was unable to predict how it would end which definitely kept my interest in the lead up to the breathtaking final few pages.

I thought Alex
Colleen Fauchelle
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Alex has been in hospital for neally two years, not able to move anything or let people know he is aware of what is going on around him. He had a good job and loved climbing and a fall has caused him to be where he is and he wants to die. Since Alex is the one telling the story we are stuck in the bedc with him, we know when he is being treated well and when he is not by his carers. He knows who is entering the room by their smell and foot steps. We get snipets of chats as people come and go. Ev ...more
Kate~Bibliophile Book Club
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I know I said I’m taking a break, and I am. But I couldn’t wait to get my thoughts out on If I Die Before I Wake.

IIDBIW is billed as a psychological mystery, and it is, but it is so much more too.

When we meet Alex, he’s lying in a hospital bed, with all those around him believing he’s in a coma. Yet he can still hear, and feel, and think for himself. He just can’t move. He is trapped in his own body.

We see everything from Alex’s perspective, and along with him, we learn that his climbing acci
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-books
Over time I have read and enjoyed a handful of books that focus on a narrator who is in a persistent vegetative state or coma. These novels have often focussed on a mystery which the reader, along with the narrator, must work to unlock. It makes for some fascinating reading fodder. If I Die Before I Wake, a book written by debut author Emily Koch, enters this territory.

Almost two years ago, Alex fell into a coma after a rock climbing accident. His family are
Astrid Langeveld
Emily Koch werkte jarenlang als journalist in Bristol, maar stopte met haar baan om een mastergraad in Creative Writing te halen aan Bath Spa University. Als ik doodga voor ik opsta is haar debuut.

Het verhaal gaat over dat iedereen denkt dat Alex in coma ligt en nooit meer wakker zal worden. Maar hij hoort alles wat er rondom zijn ziekenhuisbed wordt gezegd. Hij hoort dat er op zijn vriendin wordt ingepraat- ze moet hem vergeten en verder leven. Hij hoort zijn familieleden opperen dat een milde
Emma Mitchell
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've heard of locked in syndrome, I'm sure most people have. It sounds utterly terrifying and Koch brings that terror to the pages of her debut novel, If I Die Before I Wake.
Alex is in a vegetative state. The doctors have convinced his friends and family that he cannot see, hear, feel, or well, anything really. He isn't there anymore. An accident has claimed him mind and body, it's quite a miracle that he's still able to breath alone, but that's pretty much all he can do for himself.
Except it's
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
Provided with an ARC in exchange for a fair review

I'm really surprised at how highly rated this book is. I found it pretty boring, the protagonist is literally in a coma for the whole thing and it's all just flashbacks and snippets of overheard conversations. I wasn't really invested in any of the characters. It feels like an effort to even review and I think I'll have forgotten it entirely pretty soon.
Renita D'Silva
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
An absolutely engrossing story. I couldn't out it down.
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Book reviews on

Ahh, another great read to continue my excitement at the fantastic novels being published in 2018! This is a tricky book to write my review on for two reasons - 1) I wanted bits of it to be different, and 2) I'm glad really that those bits weren't different! You need to read this novel to see what I'm saying, but I hugely enjoyed starting If I Die Before I Wake without knowing all that much about it, so I'm going to avoid including any details in this review w
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The whole story is told by Alex. After a climbing accident Alex is left in a vegetative state and everyone thinks that he is not going to wake up. But although the tests show there is no brain activity, he can hear and smell and feel pain. But, he cannot move. He can hear all that’s going on around him. But he cannot do anything about it, even when her hears that his family is thinking of ending his life and his girlfriend is being stalked. He cannot protect her.
While he lies there, he finds ou
Todd Simpson
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was such an interesting and captivating story. The plot is definitely unique, and I think this is why I enjoyed it so much. I also like a novel that is thought provoking, and there were a number of times in this book where I stopped to think about things. Emily Koch has done an amazing job with this wonderful piece of writing, and she has certainly captured my attention. Alex loved his rock climbing more than anything, but after a terrible accident, he ended up in hospital in a coma. Howeve ...more
How is this Emily Koch’s debut? How!?!?! If I Die Before I Wake is something so different and thought provoking alongside an intriguing mystery to solve.

I really felt for Alex. I can’t imagine how frustrating it is to have to listen conversations about you and in some cases at you with no right to respond or react. And these conversations alongside Alex’s thoughts gradually drop pieces of a jigsaw to reveal who tried to kill Alex.

I don’t know if this is what it is like to be in a coma; thankfull
Susan Hampson
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
I sometimes think that you have to read a book before you realise just how powerful the title is. Alex wasn't asleep but his family and the doctors all thought that he was in a coma. The truth was Alex was very aware of his surroundings but unable to move or communicate with anyone. He could only see shapes as white, grey and black but he could hear alright and felt every touch.
Alex, an accomplished climber, had fallen down a rock face at a time that he wasn't wearing a helmet, or at least that
Apr 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Alex has been in a coma for two years after a climbing accident....there are no signs of life, the doctors are sure he's gone. Except he hasn't. His body has shut down but his mind is alive. He can feel, hear and sometimes see - he just can't move, or speak. He listens as his girlfriend and family debate whether or not he should be kept alive. He thinks they should let him go. But then it's discovered the accident was no accident at all and that someone he loves could also be in danger.Now he wa ...more
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-thrillers
If I Die Before I Wake – A Good Debut Thriller

Emily Koch is an award-winning journalist and a graduate of the fabulous creative writing course at Bath Spa, has written a debut thriller that will keep you enthralled. If I Die Before I Awake, should not work, but it does in so many ways, and will keep the reader gripped throughout.

Alex is in a coma, and there are doubts he will ever come out of it, he is surrounded by the machinery that is keeping him alive. His girlfriend, Bea, his family and fri
Christina McDonald
A cleverly written psychological thriller written from the POV of a victim who everybody thinks is in a coma. The twist is he can actually still hear, feel and think. He’s trapped inside his own body while trying to figure out who tried to kill him.

I loved that it was well-written and unique, I liked the protagonist’s voice, and the tagline was so intriguing I absolutely had to read this novel. Koch did a great job of not just telling the story through flashbacks, which was really impressive, al
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Release date: 11th January 2018 - harvillsecker

I read the last few pages of this book and then sat there after it was all done and just stared at it for what felt like a very long time. There are so many aspects that made it an excellent thriller. The protagonist is Alex himself throughout the book. Whilst I enjoy reading other character's point of view, this really stood out in the novel as not only does Alex tell his story by going back and forth in time, we also hear his thoughts when people
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
We follow Alex, who is in a coma, unable to move but can still hear everything that is going on around him. Although this brain activity doesn't show up on any scans.

Alex is an extremely likable character and you'll find yourself feeling so uncomfortable knowing what he's going through and the frustration that he can't make anyone see that he's aware of everything.

Upsetting in parts, shocking in others, this is well worth a read.
Jo Hurst
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
For most of this book I was thinking 3 stars, it seemed slow and a little repetitive (maybe like coma victim Alex’s life whose voice tells the story) but the end was so exciting and so heart wrenching (I was sobbing!) that it was a 5. So a good 4 stars. The writing was good and for me the beauty was the interaction with the staff and family with Alex. Pauline the good nurse and Bart the cleaner moved me a lot and it’s the human interaction that is the strength of this novel for the most part. Ho ...more
Mar 12, 2018 rated it liked it
I was really looking forward to reading this book as I'd heard quite a few good things about it. The story is told from the perspective of Alex. Alex has had a climbing accident and is in a hospital bed unable to communicate with anyone, however is aware of everything that is going on around him. When I think too much about this, I get a bit creeped out. I just cannot imagine anything worse. I felt this was a unique way to tell a story and I think it was done relatively well. What I did struggle ...more
Sylvie Geerts
Jun 21, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Het begon goed en spannend en ik was dan ook vol verwachting. Een keer de dader is ontmaskerd, net vóór de twee laatste hoofdstukken heb ik die indruk dat het verhaal dan vlug afgeraffeld werd. Zonde.
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Emily Koch is an award-winning journalist and writer living in the UK. Her debut novel - If I Die Before I Wake - is out now. It was shortlisted for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger award, longlisted for the Authors' Club Best First Novel Award, and selected as a Waterstones Thriller of the Month.