Rhiannon's Reviews > Dark Places

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
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Apr 25, 11

bookshelves: lady-writer, read-in-2011, yr-family-is-fcked, yikes, motherless, dont-forget-to-buy-this-someday, i-love-this-author
Recommended to Rhiannon by: Ali
Recommended for: Those who enjoy the dark, twisty side of psychology
Read from April 18 to 25, 2011

I had low expectations of this book, which were mostly based on the synopsis ("Libby finds herself right back where she started – on the run from a killer." Lame! What sadsack publishing-house-intern wrote that poopy synopsis?).

I don't read "mysteries," and while they probably constitute a rich and complex genre that I am missing out on, I just picture them as formulaic, whodunnit-y, that-guy-in-the-parlor-with-the-motive-that-was-foreshadowed-on-page-eleven-y. And I don't dig that crap. Not in movies, and not in books. In thinking Gillian Flynn's Dark Places was a mystery, a mystery with a shitty-sounding synopsis, I was skeptical about reading this book. But, it came highly recommended by a friend, so I gave it a chance. And I am really glad I did.

So, I guess it is a mystery. But, that is only part of the reason why it was so intriguing. Because, most of all - Dark Places was a gorgeous character study. By gorgeous, of course, I mean horrifying and slightly sickening, definitely twisted, and (as the f*ckin title suggests) dark. But, gorgeous, nonetheless. I don't think that a lot of readers can get on board with Flynn's writing style and subject matter.


But, if you aren't afraid of the dark, then hop on! This is an excellent book.

We start of in the POV of Libby, a nihilistic, ultimately depressing character who's existence, it seems, originated from - and hinges on - a constant state of victimhood. Her family was killed in one of those popular "Oh No! A Satanic Cult!" murders of the 80s and 90s, and she is a survivor.


But, NOT a "survivor" in the Beyonce sense. No, no. As in "she survived, now what?" At first, as a reader, I was put off by her "voice," her whole character in general. And just when I thought I didn't want to read any more about her, the plot became more intriguing, and the intrigue grew and grew. And as it did, so did the character Libby and her sense of her self.

Eventually, there are shifts in narrative points of view. The shifting narratives lead us to the truth behind Libby's past, and also the truth about Libby's dangerous present.

The narrative shifts present an excellent respite from Libby's negative voice, and they increase in frequency in the latter half of the book - pulling the pace along with them (no going to bed for you!). Eventually, you won't be able to put the book down.

But, the real success of the author is in the writing style. Sometimes Gillian Flynn is gritty and filthy and all you can think of when you read this book is tasting blood under your fingernails. Other times, she is tender and beautiful - making your heart ache for these characters - and if you think I'm just piling on the cliches, here, think again - because I was shaking my head with tears in my eyes at one point.

Finally, one last thing that I enjoyed about this book: The main character Libby befriends "A Guy." The two of them bond. They understand one another. They are there for one another. And guess what? No romance! I didn't think it was fucking possible for a writer (a female writer, no less) to construct a boy/girl "detective team" with no sexual tension or romance. But, she did it. I kept waiting for the moment when the two of them would "hook up," and it never came! I walked away from the book feeling ultimately satisfied and refreshed by this: I realized that it made much more sense for them to be friends, since they are both so emotionally fucked anyway. Cheers to Gillian Flynn for smashing my (stupid) expectations. Imagine a woman going a whole book without a romance.
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