Book Review : Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

A second dose of Gillian Flynn-

Title: Dark Places
Genre: Fiction, Dark, Thriller
Author: 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.

 

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Dream Job: Professional book reader.

Although I am not shy to the fact that when asked/forced to read, much like in school, it is far less enjoyable than doing it on your own. Regardless, I kind of wanted to start a book review section for my blog. To strengthen my commitment to reading & just to have some intellectual & physical proof that I read these books & have formed an opinion on them. And maybe you’ll pick up on a book or two you might want to read.

sharpobjectscoverTitle: Sharp Objects
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Author: Gillian Flynn

First & foremost, Gone Girl was on the best books I’ve read in the past 5 years. It kept me absolutely entrenched in the story & as cliché as it may sound, I literally could not put it down. That is what drew me to read the rest of Gillian Flynn’s books.

Sharp Objects is Flynn’s debut novel which won a Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for the best thriller in 2007. According to Goodreads it is #43 on a list of 1585 Most Disturbing Books Ever Written list.  Also according to Goodreads; Flynn, who lives in Chicago, grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. She graduated at the University of Kansas, and qualified for a Master’s degree from Northwestern University.

The novel is about a reporter, Camille, living in Chicago who has to go back to her small hometown in Missouri to ‘investigate’ / write about recent murders of two young girls. Surprisingly enough, Camille is reluctant to go back to her hometown. She has a tumultuous relationship with her mother- who happens to be the richest person in the town, a hypochondriac & more controlling than my own mother. She has no relationship with her real father or her step father, who is weird as fuck & only serves his purpose by catering to her mother. She had a sister who died at a young age due to being mysteriously sick, she now has a half-sister whose personality came straight from that movie Heathers, a little bit sweet, a little bit sexy & a whole lot sadistic for a 13 year old. Camille also has spent time in a psych ward & is forced to wear pants & long sleeves in the Missouri heat because she’s a cutter. And not just a cutter but she cuts words into her skin, all through the book she’ll trace the words on her arms, her palms, her legs, her hip, her back.

If that sounds like a lot, please keep in mind those are only a few characters. There’s also the little boy who saw the murderer but no one believes, there’s the town sheriff that is stuck in this 1950’s a woman couldn’t have done this mindset. There’s the main suspect, the 18-year-old brother of one of the murdered girls who Camille hooks up with, and his girlfriend, and his family. There’s the rookie detective sent from Kansas City that Camille falls in love with, or he falls in love with her, either way :Spoiler Alert: It doesn’t work out. There’s the other murdered girl’s family, there’s Camille’s half sister’s groupies, there’s Camille’s boss & his wife back in Chicago, who didn’t have kids of their own, so they’ve taken Camille in as one of theirs. There’s her old high school friends, the group of girls she went to high school with who are now the rich socialite moms of the town.

Basically, if you could think of any cliché that would be in a crime story about a middle aged woman going back to her hometown- you got it right in this little book. The writing reads like what I would imagine a decent romance novel would. The kind where you know it’s not superior creative writing but more dumbed down & easy to follow along with. And yet, it’s one of those books you can’t put down. The plot line is good, just like Gone Girl, there’s plenty of twists & turns throughout the story that keep you going. Kind of like a good horror movie where you think you might know the ending but you’ve got to keep watching to make sure. So, in a kind of cheap thriller, easy & quick to read, borderline mentally fucked up story kind of way – it’s a good book. I mean, I’d recommend you read it if you’re in to horror lit & maybe have some down time in between reading better written books by better authors.

I’d say the worst part of this book is chapter after chapter, you’re building up to this conclusion. You’ve got the story line & a climax that builds up for the majority of the book – only to find the conclusion in a few sentences at the end of the book. And in the true sense of a plot twist, the book ends in a halfway hopeful ending with the murderer found & arrested. Camille goes back to Chicago & attempts to go back to her life with a few changes outlined in the book. And then… BOOM the epilogue – 2.5 kindle pages reveal the truth of what happens after the happily ever after, who the real murder was and how it happened and justice prevails. I mean, it’s good, it’s shocking, it’s not like any other juvenile horror story I’ve read but 2.5 pages in an epilogue to sum up a 200+ page book? The ending definitely felt rushed.

I’d rate it a 3/5 stars.

I wouldn’t read it again but I don’t regret having read it at all & I’ll wait for the movie adaptation to hit Netflix or Redbox.