karen's Reviews > Dark Places

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
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's review
Aug 03, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: sshh-family-secrets

i was not a lovable child, and i'd grown into a deeply unlovable adult. draw a picture of my soul, and it'd be a scribble with fangs.

gillian flynn sure does love writing about horrible people doing horrible things.and i sure do love reading about them. especially because she isn't one of those writers coasting on shock value and "can you belieeeeeve a delicate flower of a woman is writing this??" but she can really tell a story and i, for one, was completely surprised and pleased by the ending of this one.

libby's mother and two older sisters were murdered when she was seven years old, apparently in some sort of satanic bloodbath masterminded by her older brother ben. she escaped and was instrumental in getting him put behind bars, in one of those "lean on the kid and make them say what needs to be said to convict someone" situations. twenty-five years later, she is a mess - a flat broke kleptomaniac, pissed off at the world, and terrible at any social expectations, until she is approached by a group whose specialty is studying violent crimes, trading memorabilia, constructing alternate scenarios of horrorshows; criminal tourists. and libby pumps them for cash while promising to look into the crime she lived through, and reconnect with her brother and father in order to solve a crime she believes has already been solved.

but it is far from over, man. there are all kinds of things she is going to learn about that night, and about her family, and about her own self.

and it's going to get creepy.

it is great, great, great. it is not perfect - i personally had some difficulties with character motivation and behavior, but it doesn't matter because it all works within flynn's dirty little world, and she manages to convince you that these characters are going to do what they are going to do within their need-spheres, and just because it doesn't make sense to youuuuu, just be thankful for that, yeah?

it is really chilling stuff - oh, god - remember the frenzy of satanic finger-pointing of the 80's? there were cults everywhere, right? all the animal sacrifices and the heavy metal music and the teenage killers under the spell of the dark one? and even though none of it ever panned out into anything, that frenzy, that imagined threat was so convincing to so many pearl-clutching mothers. it would be adorable now, except for reading this book, and remembering that actual people were accused and convicted because of half-whispered urban legends. oops.

it's a great bloody crime story. its pacing is sublime; she always knows just how far to take the reader before switching up the focus to cause the maximum amount of anticipatory distress, she knows how to cover her tracks and how to deliver the most effective kaboom of an ending. and you might not like any of these characters, but you will still sympathize with them, despite your better instincts.

i seem to have run out of gillian flynn books.
more, please.
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Reading Progress

August 3, 2012 – Started Reading
August 3, 2012 – Shelved
August 4, 2012 –
page 300
85.96% "it is not fair that i am so close to the end and i had to go back in to work. not. fair."
August 4, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-50 of 55) (55 new)

Linda Karen; It's great, isn't it? She has a new book out that I want to read.

karen it was great. gone girl is even better. and i should probably re-read sharp objects, because i barely remember it. but she's really fantastic.

message 3: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome Do you read lighter things?

karen sure, yeah - i read all sorts of things.but i guess my tendency is to skew dark.

Molly Talbert I'm about to start this one! Great review!

RandomAnthony Yes, this was my least favorite of the three, but I still liked it. I think she got needlessly complex with the perspectives and a couple storyline elements seemed way too convenient. But I'm quibbling. Still good.

message 7: by Lynn (new) - added it

Lynn Goodrich I just got these books. In what order do you read them?

karen there isn't any set order, unless you want to read them in order of publication, and then it would be sharp objects, dark places, gone girl.

message 9: by Miriam (new)

Miriam remember the frenzy of satanic finger-pointing of the 80's? there were cults everywhere, right?

Were there? I thought it was just because I lived in San Francisco.

Danielle Simmons um, wow. i would LOVE to read this one. adding to my TO READ list now.

message 11: by Briana (new)

Briana Your review makes me want to run out and grab it, but the creepy aspect of it makes me stay put where I am. I typically read at night. Doesn't sound like my type of la-de-da reading lol. But I enjoyed your review!

karen it is definitely creepy, but way less so than broken harbor, which is not by her, but i just read, and it made me feel much more observed, if you know what i mean.

message 13: by Briana (new)

Briana Ah yes, yes. I like those types of books. Well maybe I'll reconsider this decision.

Laurin Reading this now thanks to your review. Love your reviews, Karen!

Jenbebookish Good review. Bought the book today coz of it! Ps. You work @ the B&N in NY? I was there recently, and omg I'm totally not a stalker buuut I did look around for you, my goodreads friend w/the most updates! Thought it would've been funny, had I seen you.

karen oh, yay! let me know if you review it, both of youse, so i can see if i was right in my love of it!

jen, which bn were you at? there are 6 in manhattan - i am at the union square store. next time, say hi! as long as you don't sit on the floor, i am a nice bn-person!

Jenbebookish Ya I was at the Union square one! Which I had seen pics of because you had posted them and it was as gloriously large as I imagined :)

Haha I totally sit on the floor! I would sit in a chair if there was one open tho!! When did Barnes and noble start monitoring the floor sitting?!? When I worked there a few years back we still let people sit/crouch/camp out anywhere there was space!

karen well, and that's the problem - there stopped being space. and the fire department came in and were like "what the fuck?? no." so. there are hundreds of chairs, and why anyone would want to sit on the floor in a heavily trafficked store in a city with a large homeless population is beyond me. seriously - you don't even want to know.

Jason karen wrote: "there isn't any set order, unless you want to read them in order of publication, and then it would be sharp objects, dark places, gone girl."

Is that sort of the approach you would recommend?

karen in this case, or in general?

i think each one gets better in terms of writing and characterization.

Jason I own all three and they are sitting on my bookcase. I was told, by another Goodread's member, to read them in this order: Sharp Objects, Gone Girl, Dark Places. Just wondering if your opinion differs from hers. Oh, and yah, in general.

karen hmmm, a difference of opinions!

Jason yah in any case i think ill start w/ sharp objects, mainly because it's her first, and it would be interesting to compare and contrast the style of both early and newer works. I was going to start reading into the darkest corner, but i think ill try out some of Flynn's novels first.

karen dooooo it!

Linda karen wrote: "it was great. gone girl is even better. and i should probably re-read sharp objects, because i barely remember it. but she's really fantastic."

I didn't see this until now. Yes, Gone Girl was great. I thought about rereading Sharp Objects because I didn't like it as much as the others.

Jason Finished sharped objects... I felt that it was a bit uneven.. ill give dark places a chance after age of miracles.

Danielle The whole "SATAN IS EVERYWHERE" craze in the 80s is exactly why I picked this book up. I just started it, but your review has made me even more enthused to read it. :D

karen oh, satan... where ya been?

Jennifer Great review!!! I couldn't have said it better myself!!

karen thanks!

Kellie O. "...she always knows just how far to take the reader before switching up the focus to cause the maximum amount of anticipatory distress..."

Yes! Great review. :)

karen awww - thanks!

Maria Olivier That's my favourite quote from the book! It totally puts you in Libby's mind and you know what you are getting - not a cuddly nice girly girl

Amanda I totally agree!!! This was my fave of her 3 books...and yes, more please!! :-)

Kirby I just wanted to comment to say how much I loved your phrase "cause the maximum amount of anticipatory distress" but now I see I wasn't the first one to love it! :)

karen ha! thanks, all!

Fatima Carla I loved this book! Can you suggest other dark themed books? (Like gillian flynn's) It seems like we have the same taste of books and I'm running out of list to read. Thanks!

karen yeah, i could probably put together a list for you - i'm running out now for most of the day, but i'll think it over and maybe post something tomorrow for you?

Fatima Carla That would be great! :)

Aseel thanks for pointing that the reader may not get the motives of the characters

karen i am great at pointing.

message 42: by Lyndsey (new)

Lyndsey Farmer I agree about the Libby's motivation to find answers and reasons from both Ben and Runner...I think the interactions could be better...still a great book. I love Gillian Flynn...however, I am concerned how the movie depictations could turn out...not sure how the flashbacks to different characters will play out in a movie, but I'm sure they will make something clever. Gone Girl was a little more my taste, twisted but not as sick.

karen yeah, movies are always a risky venture, to fans of books. i'm always 75% apprehensive.

message 44: by Jennifer (new) - added it

Jennifer Lane Excellent review. You make me want to read this despite my trepidation about its darkness. :-)

Debbie "DJ" Did you say she has a new book coming out? I would like more please also!

karen if i said that, then i was a big far liar!!

Debbie "DJ" Oh hell, it must be my mind again, making things up that I want to happen.

Katie What books do recommend that are similar to this one?

Nicole Would you say that her effectiveness as an author is based on her ability to at least feel a bit repulsed after reading her books? She's not my cup of tea, but I have to hand it to her in that she both gave me insomnia and fear of leaving the apartment after reading two of her books. Hell, I didn't even want to walk to the bathroom after I finished this one.

Nicole *make you feel

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