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The Basic Eight

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  6,568 ratings  ·  772 reviews
Flannery Culp wants you to know the whole story of her spectacularly awful senior year. Tyrants, perverts, tragic crushes, gossip, cruel jokes, and the hallucinatory effects of absinthe -- Flannery and the seven other friends in the Basic Eight have suffered through it all. But now, on tabloid television, they're calling Flannery a murderer, which is a total lie. It's true ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published May 9th 2006 by Ecco (first published 1999)
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noemi [dogeatsreads] Remember that all of this I written from Flannery's perspective in her journal so she wrote whatever she thought or remembered was going on and that m…moreRemember that all of this I written from Flannery's perspective in her journal so she wrote whatever she thought or remembered was going on and that meant giving Natasha roles when she didn't really have any. Also there are clues to show that Flora was one of the B8, for example on the day after the murder, Flan is listing the member of the B8 and she includes Flora but not Natasha, suggesting that atleast at some points in time she had some awareness of reality. (less)
This question contains spoilers... (view spoiler)
noemi [dogeatsreads] I first came to the suspicion when Flan, Natasha and Flora are at the lake. Flan recalls looking at the rippling water and only seeing two people refl…moreI first came to the suspicion when Flan, Natasha and Flora are at the lake. Flan recalls looking at the rippling water and only seeing two people reflected back but can't make out who of the three of them is missing.

Also when people keep calling Flannery Natasha is another big clue and by this point I was certain that they were the same person. Flannery was writing what she recalled from the day in her journal so she would write that people were mistaking her for Natasha or be addressing Natasha and not her but that wasn't actually what was going on. Whenever she thought that Natasha was being addressed it was actually (the dark side of) Flannery being addressed but her delusion is what made her write Natasha's name in the journal. And she explains at the end that she didn't edit those mistakes while rewriting the journal because Natasha was so imbedded in her life and her memories and herself

Also If you go back through you'll notice that every time Flannery thinks people are talking to Natasha it's whenever it's about something that "normal" Flannery wouldn't do.

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Average rating 3.79  · 
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mark monday
The "Basic Eight" are a group of teenage friends. Flannery Culp is our neurotic narrator. The novel is about love and murder and friendship in high school. This review of THE BASIC EIGHT features my very own Basic Eight from Los Alamitos, Orange County.

Photos circa 1988.




 photo jeff_zps10831543.jpg

On a technical level the novel is somewhat impressive, given that it is a first novel from a novice author. I enjoyed the da
Aug 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Karen may disagree with this theory, but I came up with it while reading The Basic Eight and I'll expound on it here. I was going write a second part to this review, but it was going to be chock full of spoilers, and I kind of hate spoilers. And some book reports.

This book is part of the Secret History tradition of contemporary literature. But, as the cover of this book would seem to allude to for anyone who grew up in the late eighties, it also points towards the movie Heathers. This book, Don
Aug 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5questions
How do I love "The Basic Eight"? Let me count the ways. I love the delicious untrustworthiness of the narrator. I love the cheerfully horrifying violence. I love the snarky questions for the reader at the end of each chapter, textbook-style, that don't just remake the points but cleverly further the plot. I love the dizzying revelations at the end and I love the physical descriptions of the clothes, the disastrous party, the drunkenness. I think I'll go read it again right now. ...more
Dec 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014, 2011, multiple-reads
Well, damn, this book is smart. I'm not talking about the ending (I don't actually think all the mechanics work out perfectly) so much as Flannery herself, in all her glorious unreliable narrator-ness. The book is her diary, which she's editing for publication from prison - the treatment of time is beautifully messy and fun. You've got (1) traditional diary-style storytelling, (2) annotations at the original time of writing (i.e. Flannery giving her friend her journal instead of telling her a st ...more
Sep 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dark, devious and intoxicating. This book pulled me in with some sort of twisted, magnetic force, until it was 2 AM and I realized I had finished it in one go. Full review to come.
Mar 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
seriously what the actual fuck
May 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unputdownable

So many people have compared this to Donna Tartt's THE SECRET HISTORY, and definitely there are lots of similarities. In THE BASIC EIGHT, an exclusive group of friends who are super rich and pretty pretentiously into high culture enter their senior year of high school. There are crushes, drinking, drugs and teachers involved, and yes finally a murder (not a spoiler).

I love the whole unreliable-narrator-editing-her-own-diary-after-the-crime format and mode. It's been done a lot, but not
Jul 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: rhea
Before I read this, I thought it might be like the movie Heathers (not that I've seen it). But because I enjoy Handler's (and Lemony Snicket's) humor and morbidness and wit and his narrators being pedantic language snobs, I read it. It's his first novel for adults and despite this being about high school kids, it's definitely for adults (and maybe the oldest of teens).

I like the not-subtle-at-all skewering of pop-TV-psychologists, and the narrator's merging of the past of her journal entries wit
Heather *Undercover Goth Queen*
A friend recommended this book to me, and while I usually trust and agree with her literary opinions, I hated this book so much. It was so pretentious (the narrator constantly corrected her sentences ending in a preposition. for example. Just write it the right—correct—way in the first place!). I think it tried to be funny, but it was hard to tell, and it wasn't funny anyway. There were digs at the reader's intelligence and ejaculations of "Dear reader!" (that only works in like, classic novels) ...more
Aug 25, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: 1990s LHS graduates who really, really enjoy inside jokes
Poorly written, thinly-veiled satire of my high school. A friend claimed that this was brilliant, so I slogged through it.
Oct 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was a thoroughly enjoyable 4-star read to begin with. Fun characters, dark humor, deliciously written sentences. This kind of thing: "Natasha arrived, bearing cleavage and brie, and immediately fell into a squabble with Gabriel over how to bake it properly. Kate and I sat basking in the pretentiousness of it all."

It's so self-aware it's ALMOST annoying, except that it rings so completely true. Apparently the author drew quite a bit from his own San Francisco high school experience, wh
Oct 10, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book, I see, is being compared to 'The Secret History' by Donna Tartt and 'Special Topics in Calamity Physics.' I disagree strongly. Both Ms. Tartt, especially Ms. Tartt, and Marisha Pessl are not only better writers, but they both are far superior in execution of a story.

Not that 'The Basic Eight' lacks merit. I found it to be an interesting read. My complaints are two-fold. I thought the execution was rather clumsy. I think if this had been a bit more streamlined, it would improve and ele
Jul 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of coming of age/high school clique genre
So if I had read this in high school I can guarantee you it would have been my favorite book at the time. It is an incredibly mean spirited high school drama with a sick twist, revolving around a clique of outcast/precocious/uppity/self-involved intellectuals, much like myself (or the self I thought of myself as) in high school. I can see myself at 15, reading The Basic Eight outside a coffee shop, listening to the dead milkmen on my walk-man and smoking clove cigarettes... oh so very cool. It's ...more
Dec 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Jan 06, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2008
This was fun to read, but not quite the most wonderful book you will read in your life, contrary to what many of the reviews on would like you to believe. If it is the most wonderful book you've ever read, might I suggest broadening your horizons?

On the plus side:

• The voice of the first-person narrator (and murderess), Flannery Culp, is irresistible - smart, irreverent, quirky (OK, maybe a little insane as well), and highly entertaining.
• Handler is a good writer, and knows how to
Apr 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Precocious teenagers, misanthropes, absinthe lovers
It's obvious that this is a first novel. If you've read any of the Lemony Snicket books, you'll see where they came from. Despite its gimmicky plot, horribly precocious teenagers, and its overall grimness, I found myself entranced and enchanted about this book. The Basic Eight are who I wished I was in high school (hell, I wish I were like any of them now), and they're painted with an alternatingly endearing and maddening world-weary hopelessness but with just enough innocence to be likable. ...more
Oct 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
It took me a little bit to get into this book, and after I got about half way I couldn’t put it down. It was intense, interesting, and dark. This book will blow your mind! While reading it, I couldn’t figure out just how it was going to end, and then when the ending came I realized that I knew the ending all along!
Landta. This book is doing things to my brain. I can’t think properly. I think I shouldn’t have read I am the Cheese right before this one.
Rated: PG-18, this book has it all. Sex, dru
Sian Clark
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I did love this book. It was s-c-a-n-d-a-l-o-u-s. There was never a dull moment. So much was happening, all the time. The writing was the best ever. Darkly hilarious and so original. But I didn't quite understand or very much like the ending. But actually, the more I think about the ending and the book in general, the cleverer I realise it is. Maybe I was expecting too much at the time. But I so wish there was more. I miss reading it already. I think I need to read it again to fully understand a ...more
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
when the unreliableness of the narrator is so blatantly clear but like... it's still so twisty. loved the characters. loved the style. love love lvoe. it was a delicious meal of a book. ...more
Jan 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
I couldn't put this book down. It's similar to The Secret History- high school clique, someone they murdered, you read to find out how on earth and why it happened. I've been reading mystery cozy after cozy and never care who did it or why, but this story intrigued me. And when Handler gets to that, he doesn't disappoint. I enjoyed the format of Flan's diary, and I actually feel like I spent the weekend back in high school (except I didn't murder anyone in high school).

Comments to skip if you h
Aug 20, 2017 rated it did not like it
In retrospect, I probably shouldn't have read this so soon after reading The Secret History. After expressing my disappointment with it, I was told that The Basic Eight was similar but better. Unfortunately, I simply could not force myself to like this. I did not care for the proclaimed "cleverness" of the novel; on the contrary, I thought it was anything but. It wasn't funny--and this is coming from someone who lives for sarcasm and dry humor--and although the whole unreliable narrator bit did ...more
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Welcome to Flannery Culp’s lovely, black, leather bound journal. On these pages she will capture all the memories of her senior year with her best friends “The Basic Eight”. She’ll share all the good, bad and ugly details – including a little tale of murder.

Absolutely DELICIOUS. I don’t even know how this book made it to my “to read” list*. I’m so thankful Goodreads is here to help prod my senile mind along. I was completely thrown into the way-back machine with this one – it was reminiscent of
Feb 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult, 2014

I wanted to give this 4 stars, but I couldn't? Don't get me wrong, I loved many many parts of it, Flannery's unreliable POV is one of the most hilarious I've read and the pretentiousness of the gang was amazing to me, and most importantly I thought the whole style/conceit of the book was incredibly engaging and creative. But when it was winding down to the end, Handler lost me during the pages and pages of describing the garden party - 99% of which was way too absurd for me to accept even aft
Aug 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
marissa pessl, krysten ritter, and tana french (i love all three of you. but those particular books): take notes. how to write a high school clique and experience that feels ethereal but grounded and real.

the basic eight was everything that special topics in calamity physics, the likeness and bonfire tried so very hard to be but failed spectacularly. it was thrilling, and didn't let me go for a second. this book is clever without being pretentious and that takes special skill.
Dec 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing
As soon as I finished this book I turned back to the beginning and read it again. I loved it. It has all the silliness of A Series of Unfortunate Events, but reworked for an older crowd. Yeah, I knew what the twist was going to be long before it was revealed, but the reveal was still great.
Dec 08, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is quite the unique story. Told through diary entries, Flannery Culp is writing a book explaining how events leading up to the death of classmate Adam State unfolded. It's interesting to have a murder mystery where you know right from the get-go who did it. The question for this book is "why?". So it's definitely fun to see how we get there. Flannery and her friend circle known as the Basic Eight are a very unlikable group. Many people compare this book to Heathers and I can definitely ...more
Julie S.
Dec 04, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: own, read-in-2011
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 21, 2008 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
'May we generally be happy, generally be witty, generally be honest, but above all always be interesting.'

I've seen The Basic Eight described as Heathers meets The Secret History which fits this novel perfectly: it's messy, daring, genius. The main character was terrible; and that's part of why I loved it so much.

I had a few small issues with the narration sometimes, and I might lower my rating just, but overall this was so good.

(trigger warnings for (view spoiler)
Mar 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
Another book that would have gotten 5 stars if not for the weirdbad twist ending...
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Daniel Handler is the author of seven novels, including Why We Broke Up, We Are Pirates, All The Dirty Parts and, most recently, Bottle Grove.

As Lemony Snicket, he is responsible for numerous books for children, including the thirteen-volume A Series of Unfortunate Events, the four-volume All the Wrong Questions, and The Dark, which won the Charlotte Zolotow Award. 

Mr. Snicket’s first book for rea

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