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Dark Rooms

3.10  ·  Rating details ·  4,164 ratings  ·  336 reviews
A stunning debut coming-of-age novel set in the ambiguous and claustrophobic world of an exclusive New England prep school.

The first time I saw my sister after she died was at the Fourth of July party. I felt someone behind me and my flesh started prickling. My skin recognized her before I did, rippling once then tightening on my bones.

My sister, Nica.

Grace spent her teena
Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Published March 1st 2015 by Harper
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Average rating 3.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,164 ratings  ·  336 reviews

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unlike The Secret History, this book has some problems.

i was prepared for it, since so many of the reviews on here have been thumbs-down; people expecting a donna tartt or a gillian flynn and getting something altogether different. and i can't say i hated it - it's a very fast read, and it was a fine summer diversion, but it takes some frustrating shortcuts down build-the-suspense road.

nica baker is sixteen when she is murdered on the grounds of chandler academy, a prep school in hartford, conn
May 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those that like dark twisted psychological thrillers
Recommended to Jaidee by: my niece has redeemed herself
Shelves: five-stars-books
5 "snarky, jagged and twisted psychosexual" stars !!!

2016 Honorable Mention Read with High Distinction

This is an ancient Greek tragedy in a contemporary private school New England setting.

This book absolutely blew me away. It is sooo raw, soooo sordid and yet so poignant.

A 17 year old girl is murdered and her older sister seeks out her killer.

Do not let the casual contemporary tone fool you. This book is full of primordial emotion. primitive lusts and humans acting out their id impulses in a
Diane S ☔
Sep 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If this book did nothing else it made me so incredibly grateful for the mother I have. Not that my family was perfect by any means but the mother in this book is a piece of work. Seriously she makes Joan Crawford look like a nominee for mother of the year.

grace is the eldest, the quiet sister, the good one. Nica, one year younger is popular, considered by many to be wild. Despite these differences the sisters were close, so when Nica doesn't return home one night and is found dead the next morn
If 2015, so far, has been the year I've started being more selective about psychological thrillers (post- Girl on the Train disappointment) and discovered that I seem to like all the films everyone hates and feel ambivalent towards all the films everyone loves, it might also become the year I finally abandon my persisting affection for any story that resembles, or is compared to, my favourite book, The Secret History. The latest disappointment in what's becoming a very long and uneven line of ...more
Murder, drug addiction, rape, sex, illicit affairs, secrets and lies, messed up family dynamics. Really too much going on here for my taste. Too many twists, turns, and red herrings made this into a story that was so busy that it detracted from the overall effect.

I would have given only two stars but there was something really original in here that deserves the extra star. (view spoiler)
Heather *Undercover Goth Queen*
Well, thank god that's over.

I've read more than my share of one and two star books lately, so I really wanted to like this. Actually, I thought it was going to be amazing. But it was just awful.

Whose bright idea was it to compare this book not only to The Secret History and Sharp Objects, but also Twin Peaks?

The main character jumped to basically every single conclusion she made. And she had flashbacks all the time, usually in the middle of talking to someone. The writing style was so annoying.
Aug 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery, 2015
This novel was marketed as "Megan Abbott meets Twin Peaks." The Megan Abbott part has to do with the troubled teen girls at the center of the book, Grace, and her murdered sister. The Twin Peaks part has to do with Grace having full blown conversations with her dead sister, and showing up to a party dressed like her. I guess it's not VERY Twin Peaks, just trippy and disturbing, but that's where I think the blurb comes from.


I liked this book a lot. It fits into two of my favorite genres,
Bill Kupersmith
As the ending of Dark Rooms drew near, I could almost hear the voice of George Benson, but with the lyrics just a wee bit altered:

Let me haunt you one more time
Hold me closer, now you're mine
Lady, haunt me one last time
Lady, haunt me
Ho, haunt me, lady.

Indeed Nica Baker is the most haunting schoolgirl character I’ve encountered since Megan Abbott’s Beth Cassidy, but while it takes us a while to find out that Beth is ill-fated, Nica is dead, suddenly & violently, @ the very beginning of this story
Haunting, poetic and addictive, despite the teenagers who act like they're 25 rather than 16 (I don't even know if I can say that, considering I'm 25 and I'm nowhere near as deep or "mature" as the sisters in Dark Rooms) and the convenient clue-finding that crops up in almost every one of these types of novels. The privileged prep school murder story has been done to death, but I don't think I'll ever really get tired of it. And this one does bring some fresh aspects to the table - the mother-da ...more
Nov 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-books
Lili Anolik's "Dark Rooms" pretty much defied all of my expectations. I had anticipated something along the lines of Donna Tartt's "Secret History" and Tana French's recent novel, "The Secret Place," but was pleasantly surprised by the strong and gritty protagonist, and an unpredictable story. “Dark Rooms” centers around Grace Baker, who attends a Connecticut prep school with her younger sister Nica. When Nica is found murdered, the case is solved quickly, but Grace finds herself unsatisfied by ...more
Andrea Clemson
Feb 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kirkus Reviews glowed about this book and I know they're really tough and quality critics. When it specifically said "In the process, she begins to find her own identity, an identity that is—for the first time—separate from her sister’s. As much as this is a crime drama, it's also a coming-of-age novel" I became very interested. I gave it a try and was hooked from minute one. Total surprises and quality writing. The author brings a consistent suspense throughout AND the writing is so good. Since ...more
Mar 26, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Did you hate how clever and charming and well written Veronica Mars was?
Did you find Bella Swan to be too nuanced and well-written a first person narrator?
Is your favorite episode of Law and Order: SVU the Season 5, episode 15 "Families"? (this would be a spoiler)
Do you love Mary Sue narrators?

Then you will love this pop culture pastiche masquerading as a noir with no stakes and the weakest rape apology I've ever read in my life.
Mar 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Grace Baker has always been the girl who causes no trouble. She is a good student, she is a dutiful daughter, and she is a loyal sister. If here is drama to be found, Grace leaves it to her younger sister Nica.

Until, that is, Nica is murdered.

The police think they identify the culprit, so Grace, her parents, Nica's friends, and the school community where they live should find peace, right? Peace is a difficult commodity, however, when the real killer is still running around.

It isn't that Grace's
Sophie Quelle
Oct 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing! Couldn't put it down. (Got my hands on an ARC and flipped.) I want a movie.
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

‘I hauled my body along, through the trees, over the fence, toward what I knew–knew because it was there, all of it, in that piercing mechanical wail, knew because it was prophesied in my dream, as elusive as a scent, a shadow, a ghost, knew because it was written in the very blood flowing through my veins—would be as bad as it gets.’

Grace and Nica both attend Chandler Academy, a private boarding school in Hartford, Connecticut where their parents are also teachers.
Amber Nicole
Mar 24, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I feel like this book should not have been published. This was at best a first draft, I don't know how all of these fragments and typos escaped the editor. The toed the line between fantasy land and reality the entire book.

Not to mention this whole book made me sort of uncomfortable. Grace had an unhealthy obsession with her sister to the point of Bates Motel incest. The only reason I completed this book was because I wanted to see how the author tied up loose ends.

So the entire time the fath
Laura Hogensen
Don't make my mistake and be seduced by the well-written synopsis. It's about the only thing that's well-written about this book. DR is poorly written. Not only does it use up every gender/socioeconomic status/sexual orientation/addiction/grief coping mechanism trope that's out there, the author has no sense of voice. Her characters are supposed to be either high school juniors and seniors or college freshmen. They all sound like they are in their mid-twenties. It's not so much their actions (gi ...more
Mar 09, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Well, this was awful. Normally I feel guilty for giving a book such a low rating, but this book was not just bad, it was offensive. I had the same problems as everyone else. First of all, Dark Rooms is nothing like The Secret History, Dark Places, Sharp Objects, Twin Peaks, or any of the other "edgy" mysteries out there. But hey, at least it wasn't hailed as the next Gone Girl like every other book!

But a misleading blurb is not the offensive part. The offensive part is that (view spoiler)
Melissa Klug
I need to cite this book as an example of something about the book world that I find maddening, and also remind myself that I have to stop buying into the blurb game. I chose this book because it was described as all of the following: "Megan Abbott meets Twin Peaks" (fantastic), "for fans of Marisha Pessl" (great!) and "Secret HIstory meets Sharp Objects" (are you kidding me? AWESOME! Sign me up!) i MUST REMEMBER THAT THIS IS MARKETING. BOOKS DESCRIBED AS X MEETS Y ARE NEVER GOING TO BE EITHER X ...more
Oct 14, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The jacket description makes this book sound like a home run: sixteen-year-old prep school student Nica has been murdered. The case is closed, solved tidily without much fanfare, but Nica's sister Grace thinks the real killer is still out there. She sets out to uncover the truth about her sister's death, but she's going to have to dig through a whole lot of dirt before she reaches it. Let me stress that—a LOT of dirt.

It's that sordid, seamy quality that kept me engaged in Dark Rooms despite some
Oh, Dark Rooms. I wanted to love you. The synopsis sounds just up my alley and I heard Marisha Pessl comparisons-Pessl being my favorite author. But while I compulsively tore through this novel, and it succeeds as a thriller insofar as it makes you anxious to discover the ending, it is a deeply flawed novel. Like holy-moly, do I have issues with it.

First of all, there is no reason based on the text for Lili Anolik's debut novel to be titled Dark Rooms. Literally nothing of import happens in a da
May 08, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, suspense
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Thank you to William Morrow for my advance reader’s edition of Dark Rooms, by Lili Anolik.
Dark Rooms has been variously promoted as a combination of Twin Peaks, Megan Abbott, and The Secret History. To me, these descriptions didn’t fit the book, and so, I felt disappointed.
There is a little of the wonderful creepy, quirky, hallucinatory quality of Twin Peaks, especially in one scene at the end of the novel, but the strangeness that made Twin Peaks so unique is
lacking in Dark Rooms.
In the same w
Mar 22, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up because Flavorwire highlighted it for fans of Veronica Mars. It's certainly true that the plot is almost exactly same as the first season of the show (murdered sister instead of best friend), but Dark Rooms lacks the wit, character development, and nuance that made Veronica Mars so compelling.

All the characters feel sketched out and underwritten. Most frustratingly, I never felt like I knew Grace, or understood her choices. Moments that should have made me feel like new lay
Darcy (Daydreamingofbookdragons)
DNF @ 4%

Ain't nobody got time for that amount of description. I do not need to know what what the doors of a balcony look like followed by the rails of the balcony . Just fucking call them balcony rails. Boom. Done.

My immediate thoughts after reading Lili Anolik's Dark Rooms:

1. Wait, that's it?
2. Seriously, that's freaking IT?!!
3. That's bullshit.
4. Well, I guess that's one weekend I can never get back.

I should have known. I was on a roll; I was reading some good, some not so good but entertaining books and then I read Dark Rooms and my streak came to a screeching halt. I knew within reading the first paragraph I wasn't going to like it but I kept trudging away. My instincts were right.

Dark Rooms is a murd
Dnf at 25%. I have no desire to continue reading this, maybe I'll come back to it another time.....maybe not.
Jan 16, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"The Secret History" meets "Sharp Objects"? Not so much. The premise of this book was great. But the writing was awkward, the flow of the story jumpy. The people were bizarrely one dimensional, even the motivations of the main character felt wooden. The descriptions were off, too. For example, there were constantly descriptions of photographs taken from behind one of the characters - photos of her back - but then it would go on to describe her facial expression in detail. Small thing but it anno ...more
Marisa Turpin
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nancy McFarlane
Oct 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Smart, predictable, responsible Grace has always lived in the shadow of her beautiful, wild, and popular, younger sister. When 16 year-old Nica is murdered Grace is left essentially on her own as her father turns to alcohol and her mother leaves home to pursue her photography career. Drugs help Grace sleep and cope at first, but after one un-Grace like evening when she crashes a party attended by all of Nica’s old friends Grace decides to get clean and start college as planned. A shocking turn o ...more
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Play Book Tag: Dark Rooms by Lili Anolik - 3.5 stars 1 9 Mar 25, 2019 11:38AM  

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Lili Anolik is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. Her work has also appeared in Harper's, Esquire, and The Believer, among other publications. Her book, Hollywood's Eve: Eve Babitz and the Secret History of L.A., will be published by Scribner in January 2019.

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“Wouldn't take no. You know how she is."
I wanted to shake my head, say, How? But instead I lied, nodded. That familiar feeling of disconnectedness, the sense that people were mysterious to me in a way they weren't to each other, descended. Before it could turn into full-on depression, I shook it off.”
“Edgar Allan Poe, in his essay "The Philosophy of Composition" stated that, "the death of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world." And Nica was not just dead, she was murdered. Raped, too. Her story thus offered up the most potent narrative combination known to man.” 0 likes
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