Nenia Campbell's Reviews > Dark Places

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
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Mar 06, 14

bookshelves: them-families-be-cray-cray, litry-fiction, girlsgonewild, publisher-crown
Read from November 22 to December 01, 2012

When I read Sharp Objects, I was really impressed by the sheer weight of the plot, and how well-researched the psychological angle was. A lot of people get the details wrong in psychology--in fact, it's become somewhat stigmatized because of horror novels and mysteries--so it was really great to see a book from an author who took the time to actually do the research.

And oh my God, this is creepy. So creepy. Rape your soul creepy.

I didn't like Dark Places quite as much as Sharp Objects, but it was still really good, and very original. Libby Day is the sole survivor of a tragedy that took place over twenty years before, when her entire family was slaughtered like farm animals. She testified at a trial that her brother was responsible, thus sentencing him to a life behind bars. But then a mysterious group called "The Kill Club" approaches Libby. They believe her brother is innocent and are willing to pay her to dig up factoids for their real-life version of Clue.

The Kill Club had me rolling my eyes a little at first, but as Flynn went more in depth about the group, I was better able to suspend my disbelief. People are weird. The idea of a morbid group of Comic Book Guys collecting relics from solved and unsolved murders isn't as outlandish as one might wish. Libby is suffering for money. She came from a poor family and all her mother's life insurance money went towards paying the lawyers for Ben's trial. So for some extra cash she's (reluctantly) willing to start digging up the moldering past.

However, as Libby digs, she begins to learn disturbing secrets about her family, and the town. Secrets about pedophilia, Satan worship, drugs, false memory, and false testimony. Secrets that might prove her brother was innocent--or, worse, far guiltier than she ever imagined.

I loved the twist at the end. I thought I knew where Ms. Flynn was going with this (view spoiler), and I thought wrong. Which is awesome. I love being wrong when I'm reading a mystery. It means the author isn't being so formulaic that the baddy is apparent from page one.

Libby Day is a distinctly unlikable protagonist, very morbid and angsty and tortured and mean. She's a bundle of issues wrapped up in lies and neuroses and half-healed wounds.

Now, Avril. That's not nice.

Actually, everyone in this novel was awful in their own way. And yet they were never so awful that I threw down the book in defeat. She even managed to work the multiple perspectives in, and in a way that wasn't too kitsch. All in all, I have to say I was rather favorably impressed.

...And rather horrified.

3.5 stars.
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Reading Progress

11/26/2012 page 112
32.0% "Really unique plot--I've never read anything like it before, and the Kill Club is like a convention of morbid Comic Book Guys--but it sure is creepy."
11/26/2012 page 158
45.0% "Ended up staying up until 4:30am reading this crackpile of a book. I literally have no idea how this is going to end. Everyone is a lying little bitch unreliable narrator... ;___;"
11/30/2012 page 256
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Comments (showing 1-15 of 15) (15 new)

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Susan Great review, as always. What I like so much about Flynn is that her characters dont give a flying fuck about our expectations. They belong to themselves, and if we want to hang out with them it's at our own risk. (Exception noted for Nick Dunne with his pathological need to be liked.) I felt for Teenaged Brother trying to have a life in that nasty town. That was so real, it was in smellivision.

Nenia Campbell I agree. Part of the reason her books are so dark is because you could totally see the stuff in them happening.

Susan She told an NPR interviewer that she's pretty sure she could plan the perfect murder, if she ever needs to. Her husband had better not piss her off. Devious witch.

Nenia Campbell That's really disturbing. O_O

Susan That creepy dude peering in from the left (gif) is one of the most brilliantly appropriate things ever to happen in a book review, btw.

message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

I've been wanting to read Flynn's novels. Yay for the creepy. But in small doses.

Nenia Campbell Susan wrote: "That creepy dude peering in from the left (gif) is one of the most brilliantly appropriate things ever to happen in a book review, btw."

Thanks! I thought it was brilliant. :)

Nenia Campbell Ash *Shipper of Many Ships* wrote: "I've been wanting to read Flynn's novels. Yay for the creepy. But in small doses."

Flynn's books are always total mindfucks. I can't wait for the next one!

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

I love being mind fucked when it comes to books. I love the writing style on the first page but the MC is pretty unlikeable.

Nenia Campbell That's part of the fun. :D

message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

Idk I'm pretty shocked by one thing she said...

Nenia Campbell ?

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

The MC where she was jealous at the other girls wealth who also had her family murdered and "stole her spotlight".

Nenia Campbell Oh yeah. She's pretty punch-in-the-face-worthy. ;)

message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

Lovely :/

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