A second dose of Gillian Flynn-
Dark Places is Gillian Flynn’s 2nd novel, although all three novels to date do not correspond with each other. So, it does not matter which order you read them. I read Gone Girl first, then Sharp Objects & finished strong with Dark Places. If you were to read them in the order they were published you would be able to mark the growth in Gillian Flynn’s writing. Where Sharp Objects was a detailed story about too many details, with a lack luster ending – Dark Places evolves into a much better story.
From the table contents you can see that the story is told from several different perspectives. First we hear from the main character Libby’s perspective in present tense. Libby is 30 but her story line starts when she was 7 years old, she escaped a massacre on her farm where everyone in her family was murdered except for her & her older brother Ben. Her family included two sisters who were only a couple of years older than her & her single mom. She has burned through the large inheritance she had received from supporters after she gave enough evidence, at 7 years old, to convict her brother Ben as the murderer. She was now depressed, broke, and desperate for money.
The next perspective is Libby’s mom, Patty in the few days leading up to the murders. She was broke, losing money on the family farm she tried to keep going, and overwhelmed as a single mom of three girls & a son going through puberty. Her ex husband, the father of their children was a drunk, abusive and only came around when he needed money.
Then we hear from the past tense perspective of brother Ben, a teenage boy going through puberty with a girlfriend who was sexy, dangerous, older than him & mean. He was working a shitty job, annoyed by his little sisters, lacking a good relationship with is dad which made him feel worthless as a man & permanently annoyed & angry with his mom. He listens to heavy metal, dyes his hair black, drinks, smokes pot, and people start to associate him with this cultural idea that teens were devil worshippers. Oh & his shitty girlfriend is pregnant. And a few other damning things to go along with this ploy to make you think he’s the bad guy.
Desperate for money, Libby allows herself to get involved with people who kind of worship her family’s massacres. They’ve studying & come up conspiracy theories and have club meeting to discuss evidence. There’s even a group of women who visit Ben in jail regularly and almost idolize him & they are all convinced he is innocent. This group pushes Libby to re-examine things that she believed when she was 7 years old. She visits her brother in jail for the first time and starts connecting dots and coming to the realization that maybe she was antagonized to give a testimony against her brother, at the age 7 year –
My favorite thing about this book is the fact that we hear the story from multiple perspectives. Rather than just one, we get to examine what exactly was going on in the family before the murders and where it led to afterwards. You can put together simple misunderstandings & the mother’s inability to see her son was struggling in a house full of women. All the tiny things that to a reader seem so obvious & so clear but in the story line, they become misconstrued & lead the reader through a really fucked up story line. Again, this isn’t the best written prose, much like Sharp Objects. It’s very easy to read but at the same time it keeps you its grip and you can’t put the book down. Halfway through your either thinking, I know what’s going to happen or you’re thinking – holy shit this is an amazing story line & I probably could write a much better story. But I think the simplicity is what gives it its merit.
Again the books carries heavy in the climax only to reveal a short passage on what actually happens. The massacre seems to happen very quickly & with many hands covered in blood. But the follow-up after the murders is much better than Sharp Objects. You get to see how the plot twist plays out past the story line and there’s even some more crime riddled intensity in the present tense that aligns with the past massacres. The characters are well written, only lacking on the motive of the brother Ben who is in jail & limited to the short prison visits.
Ultimately, this books gives you insight to what could be a very real story, I think that’s what I like the best about it. I also love that I gave you a very generic run down of the plot & didn’t reveal any of the really juicy stuff.
I’d give it 4/5 stars & I’d probably pay to see it in the movie theater, depending on the cast.
All though, I think I did see that they are shooting the movie already & Charlize Theron plays Libby & it’s not really getting much hype. So, we’ll see.