This is a book that is actually about the BDSM lifestyle that Fifty Shades of Grey likes to think it is about. O enters into this lifestyle because it...moreThis is a book that is actually about the BDSM lifestyle that Fifty Shades of Grey likes to think it is about. O enters into this lifestyle because it is what the man she loves wants, and she pays the ultimate price in objectification (and doesn't even get the man). There is no sugar-coating and no contract, just a growing understanding of the changes this experience creates in O, leading to the final scene where O notes that no one speaks to her: she has become the ultimate submissive and an object of awe and fear to others. The writing is graphic, disturbing, and not for the faint of heart.(less)
Sharp Objects is just as compulsively readable as Gone Girl, and far more disturbing. Is that even possible? Hell, yes. I feel like I should scrub my...moreSharp Objects is just as compulsively readable as Gone Girl, and far more disturbing. Is that even possible? Hell, yes. I feel like I should scrub my brain with Lysol after reading this.
In the worlds Gillian Flynn creates in her novels, the more beautiful, rich, and perfect you are, the darker your secrets, the more depraved your soul. Set in southern Missouri, Sharp Objects creates a mid-South small town more decaying and corrupt than a Flannery O'Connor story peopled by the cast of Mean Girls and run by a family so dysfunctional it's like reading V.C. Andrews on acid. Oh, and along the way, she out-Poes Poe with moments gruesome enough to make me squirm in my seat. That said, the narrator, Camille, is believably, painfully, hopelessly flawed (the scene where she attempts to patch up her failed relationship with a blow job leaps tragically to mind here); and the town (minus the murders) is far too much like the Arkansas town where I spent two years of high school. (Apparently, judging from this book, nothing changes in that part of the world. I will never go back there. Ever.) Perhaps it is that level of realism, combined with the high Southern drama that made this such a compelling, yet viscerally horrifying read. Truly one of the most disturbing books I have ever read.
Dark Places is set in 1985, following the events of one dark day that culminate in a horrific triple homicide, and 2010, when the lone survivor of the...moreDark Places is set in 1985, following the events of one dark day that culminate in a horrific triple homicide, and 2010, when the lone survivor of the 1985 massacre begins to question her memories of that day and sets out to discover what really happened. For those who love the 1980s, Flynn gives us the dark underbelly of the bubblegum and tube socks decade: the same decade that brought us the 7-year McMartin daycare case, satanic ritual abuse scares that were little more than witch-hunts, suggestive investigative techniques, and repressed memory syndrome. In both eras, Flynn reminds us of some of the darkest places in the human soul - the fixation on violence and the small selfish cruelties that can and sometimes do escalate to tragedy. (The Salem Witch Trial came to mind more than once while reading this.)
As in Sharp Objects, Flynn depicts believably flawed, irreparably damaged characters, and as in that book the final chapters provide glimmers of hope for these survivors of unimaginable horrors. My only problem with this book is that, while neatly plotted, it takes a remarkable level of coincidence for all the events of this book to coalesce as they do. Still, the relentless buildup of these elements makes this book near impossible to put down. (less)
OK, how to describe this book? First let's say you have an evil twin. You know your twin is a bit of a bad seed, but you love hi...moreOne word: Disturbing.
OK, how to describe this book? First let's say you have an evil twin. You know your twin is a bit of a bad seed, but you love him anyway. He's your twin, for pete's sake, and your best friend, or he would be if he weren't such a loner. And you share each other's secrets, including the secret inside the old tobacco tin.
Now let's set the stage: June 1935, the long hot summer stretches ahead of you: fishing trips to the creek, jumping from the hay loft, making home-made root beer, visiting the local carnival, putting on magic shows. The idyllic joys of childhood.
But underneath the pastoral beauty, Connecticut 1935 is a lot like Wisconsin 1895 (Wisconsin Death Trip). Accidents happen on the farm, people get sick. Death is a part of life. First published in 1971, The Other is iconic psychological horror that reads like Dandelion Wine and packs an unexpected punch like it, too. Told largely from a child's point of view, you are not sure what is happening until.... but that would be telling.
Emma Donoghue must've talked to a few five-year-olds before she wrote this, because the narrative, told from point-of-view of five-year-old Jack, is f...moreEmma Donoghue must've talked to a few five-year-olds before she wrote this, because the narrative, told from point-of-view of five-year-old Jack, is flawless. Of course, Jack is not exactly an ordinary five-year-old. He has spent his entire life living in an 11x11 shed, the titular Room and the only world he knows, where his mother has been held prisoner for the last seven years. The narrative is loosely structured in three parts: Jack's life (built around routines) in Room; his and his mother's escape from Room; and Jack's learning to live in the world. Donoghue did do some research on child development when writing this, and that shows. This book is believable and disturbing, but the difficulty of the subject matter is tempered and enriched with beauty, courage, freshness, and Jack's entirely unique take on the world. (less)