Books Stephen King Recommends discussion

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Sep-Oct 2013 Group Read > 1. Libby Day (I have a meaness...) to Ben 1/2/85 10:18am (SPOILERS)

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message 1: by Debra (new)

Debra (debra_t) | 2574 comments Mod
Put your comments about this section here.


message 2: by Duane (new)

Duane (duanemincel) | 78 comments It looks like I get to be the first one here. I finished the first section and overall I'm fully intrigued by the story and further more impressed by Flynn's skill as a writer. I've already read Sharp Objects and gave it a five star review.

I dig the duel storylines unraveling at the same time. Libby Day is exactly like you'd expect a person to turn out having experienced the horror of her family's murder in 1985. Broken, mean, detached, and unable to handle even the simplest of life's tasks. Just going through the motions.

The concept of the Kill Club is something I can entirely see existing in today's culture of skewed media and the worship of all things gone wrong.

I'm not convinced that Ben is the killer. He's just a confused kid, who wants to be rebellious but seems to lack the gumption to commit anything truly heinous.


message 3: by Debra (new)

Debra (debra_t) | 2574 comments Mod
Some good comments there, Duane. Hopefully, someone will be posting their insightful responses soon. I have to reread the book, because I just don't remember enough to comment. Glad you are enjoying it!


message 4: by Janice (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 801 comments I don't think I'm quite finished this part of the book yet. I'm at Libby's visit with Ben in prison.

Many people have commented about how unlikable Libby is. I may have said something in that regard in my first review. It is certainly understandable why she would be the way she is. However, I want to like her.

One thing that struck me about her was that she had such a sense of entitlement to the money that people donated to help her, even to the point of begrudging Lisette (I think that was her name) anything (including sensationalism in the news). This desensitization would likely be a result of witnessing the deaths of her mother and sister at such an early age.

The Kill Club is quite morbid. I agree with you Duane! I didn't think it was fair of the members to denigrate Libby for her testimony when she was 7 years old, or to blame her for Ben's imprisonment.

The ones who really are sick in my opinion are the role players. To me that is beyond creepy.

I had some thoughts as she was talking about notoriety and how that could have been a commentary on society today, but I've forgotten the context already. After work tonight, I will have to try to find that spot in the book to remind myself. Searching like that is difficult on audiobook.

I picked up on a clue as to how the mystery would be resolved early on in the book which I didn't pick up first time through. I love how Gillian hid clues throughout the book. They appear so insignificant, that they can easily be missed.


message 5: by Ava Catherine (new)

Ava Catherine I am at the section where Libby has just visited Ben in prison for the first time.

Although Libby seems unlovable and harsh, I find her vulnerable and understand why she acts the way she does. She reminds me a bit of the heroine in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I like the way Flynn is using Libby to unravel the mystery of the murders.

The Kill Club is a morbid idea, but it is a clever idea for the novel. I agree with your thoughts on the KC, Duane.

When Libby finally visits Ben, we see another facet of her personality. I really like this scene.
Obviously, Ben does not blame Libby for her testimony when she was seven years old. He realizes that she was telling what she heard to the best of her ability, and Ben blames himself. It seems that Ben was protecting someone.

I like the little clues, too, Janice. I hope I am catching them, but realize I am probably not. With Flynn you never know what is going to happen next.


message 6: by Duane (new)

Duane (duanemincel) | 78 comments I think the scene where Libby visits Ben is the beginning of the next section of this discussion. Nonetheless, Libby noticeably changes her demeanor after the brief interaction with her brother. I think this is what subconsciously fuels her to go forward with more interviews for the KC. She wouldn't admit it to herself, but it's no longer just about the money now. As you stated, Connie, Libby is now the catalyst to unravel the mystery. For herself and for the reader.


message 7: by Janice (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 801 comments Duane wrote: "I think the scene where Libby visits Ben is the beginning of the next section of this discussion. Nonetheless, Libby noticeably changes her demeanor after the brief interaction with her brother. I ..."

Oops! Duane, you are right. Libby's visit to Ben in prison is the beginning of the next section. It's a little difficult to notice the switches from one part to another on audiobook.

I'll move my comment over.


message 8: by Ava Catherine (new)

Ava Catherine I agree, Duane, that is in the next section. I goofed on that one. Sorry, I shall try to watch the chapter headings a little closer.


message 9: by Roz (new)

Roz | 24 comments I find myself feeling sorry for Libby. She's so lost, unfriended, has nobody. I can understand how money would be so important to her, whether from donations as the "survivor" or from the Kill Club (that is such a gross idea). She grew up poor. It wasn't as though she had a wonderful life where all her needs had been met only to have it all ripped away when her family was murdered. She grew up underfed, in poverty. With the murder of her family, her brother in prison, her father gone, what little she had was gone.
I'm trying to notice any hints, but I'm probably missing them. But I keep wondering about the shoe print. The one that didn't belong to anyone in the family.


message 10: by Almeta, co-moderator (last edited Sep 20, 2013 05:34PM) (new)

Almeta (menfrommarrs) | 1093 comments Mod
Libby is a depressed person with a depressing personality. Not easy to like. Is she the person I am interested in following along in the story?

I am surprised at being reminded that Libby is thirty-one years of age. I always had in my mind the behaviour of a teenager.

At this point I am more interested in the murders and feel that I am being manipulated to believe that the brother didn't do it. He probably did. But maybe not. But maybe. Naugh. Yeah.

I feel sympathetic toward Patty trying to keep the family intact while under the financial stress of the farm and the parental stress of keep the family from exploding, especial with a moody teenage boy.

Roz, "shoe print wonder" here too!


message 11: by Almeta, co-moderator (last edited Sep 21, 2013 02:27AM) (new)

Almeta (menfrommarrs) | 1093 comments Mod
Duane wrote: "The concept of the Kill Club is something I can entirely see existing in today's culture of skewed media and the worship of all things gone wrong..."

Janice wrote: "The Kill Club is quite morbid. I agree with you Duane! I didn't think it was fair of the members to denigrate Libby for her testimony when she was 7 years old, or to blame her for Ben's imprisonment..."

Connie wrote: "The Kill Club is a morbid idea, but it is a clever idea for the novel. I agree with your thoughts on the KC,..."

I think most of the convention is morbid, especially the role players. However, I can see a group of solvers being an interesting gathering, that is if they could be objective.

Some of the Kill Club were fanatics, not logical. They certainly weren't taking a supposedly lifetime opportunity to interview a "witness" properly. Attacking her as they did was not in the least helpful.


message 12: by Almeta, co-moderator (new)

Almeta (menfrommarrs) | 1093 comments Mod
Girls!!! What will boys do for silly girls! Ben sure is trying hard to fit in.

His early relationship with Libby was very endearing. Too bad Libby had to lose that closeness.


message 13: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 466 comments Three days and 27-28% in and I am finally able to comment on this first group of chapters! Yay! Listening to the audio took a little getting used to the time switches between 'Libby today' and 'Libby as a seven year old' (though each section is quickly identified of course with such different perspectives)
I really like the narrator for Libby's voice and segments, but I am not a fan of the male narrator for Ben's parts. He reads in a strange sing song like monotone with odd emphasis especially in comparison with Libby's and Patty's conversational voices.
I am finding myself liking Ben in this short segment at 10:18 am, making his way through his janitorial duties at the school, gaining his perspective on growing up on a farm with no money and feeling different from other kids who don't have his farm background.
I like Patty Day too and the gaggle of little girls, giggling and sprawling and filling the farmhouse with their voices and sibling interactions. Patty is a very sympathetic character with her money woes, and her single parent struggles dealing with a teenage boy and her love of her family.
Libby - how can you like Libby? Even while understanding Libby as a troubled adult; she comes across as a reluctant survivor, an opportunist and as someone barely coping with her day to day existence.


message 14: by Tia (new)

Tia (juxalyn) Ann wrote: "Libby - how can you like Libby? Even while understanding Libby as a troubled adult; she comes across as a reluctant survivor, an opportunist and as someone barely coping with her day to day existence. "

I'm about 50 pages in and I feel the same way! I hope her character "grows a backbone" so to speak before the end of the book. She just seems kinda jaded and depressed to me. Reading about a depressed/lethargic character for that long kinda makes me feel the same way. So, I'm hoping something upbeat happens. Upbeat or creepy. lol


message 15: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 466 comments I have high hopes for liking Libby later in the book like we do when she was seven. (And we sort of understood Ben then too)
I have found myself thinking about the book today, picturing the farm house and the three giggling little girls rolling around like puppies, the hallway with Ben putting the padlock on his door and Patty, tired, red headed Patty, with freckles (in my mind anyway) trying to hold it all together as a single Mom with almost no money.
Without being overtly descriptive, the setting, especially in 1985 is vividly communicated.


message 16: by Tia (last edited Sep 25, 2013 11:58PM) (new)

Tia (juxalyn) It seems to me like Patty is scared of Ben. Like she's afraid to "upset" him. I was raised in the South where you were confronted daily about something you did or didn't do. Didn't put food away correctly or didn't put dirty towels back in the hamper instead of laying wet on my mattress. I was a messy kid with an OCD cleaner of a mother. I was the only child and our house was never dirty. So, yeah, my mom and I had a lot of "heart-to-hearts". LOL. So, I can't see a mother being like that, just letting him do whatever he wanted. A padlock on my door would've lasted until mom got home and then I wouldn't have had a door. And I wouldn't have even dared to try and put a padlock on her door while she was home. So, I don't really understand what Patty is trying to achieve. I mean, the reader can tell Ben even knows he gets to her that way. When she makes him something different for breakfast! Come on, my mother would've said "if you don't like what I cooked, you can go hungry"! I know some people will find that harsh, but it made me a stronger, less whiney person, I guess.


message 17: by Janice (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 801 comments Perhaps Patty was a little afraid of Ben. Perhaps she was just so overwhelmed with everything that she had to deal with that she didn't have the energy to confront him. Most likely, it was a combination of the two.


message 18: by Tia (new)

Tia (juxalyn) Yeah, I can see how having 4 kids could get overwhelming. So, I guess she just uses her energy to keep the peace instead of confronting them about every little thing.

On another note, does anyone else think maybe it could be one of the people from the Kill Club? The real murderer, I mean. Just crossed my mind while reading the scene where she first meets the crowd of 200 members. I mean, it would be the perfect opportunity for the killer to stalk her secretly.


message 19: by Janice (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 801 comments Hmmm... that's an interesting thought, Tia. Would it be to stalk Libby or to perpetuate the "thrill of the kill"? Sorry, that sounds gruesome, but I can't think of another way to put it. They say that those who have committed a crime often insinuate themselves into the investigation in one way or another. An arsonist may be in the crowd watching the fire. A murderer may be in the crowd watching the body be removed from the scene. Maybe in this case, the person who murdered Libby's family is getting some kickback by being in the Kill Club.

Or maybe I watch too much CSI! LOL!


message 20: by Tia (new)

Tia (juxalyn) Janice wrote: "Maybe in this case, the person who murdered Libby's family is getting some kickback by being in the Kill Club."

That's exactly what I meant!! :D Also, it could just be to perpetuate the "thrill of the kill". Watch her for a while to get to know her patterns/behaviors, so to speak. And then go in for the kill. Picking off the last remaining family member that got away.

Ah! I need to read more, but I've been so busy! And I know once it gets to that part where you CANNOT stop reading, I know I won't stop until I've finished it. That's what happened with Sharp Objects. It was real slow and then all of a sudden, about halfway through, it was like a race to the end of the book. LOL.

But yes, Kill Club member being the murderer...definite possibility. (But it might be too easy/too fitting for the story?)


message 21: by Janice (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 801 comments Carry on Tia. I think you are going to really enjoy this story.


message 22: by Tia (new)

Tia (juxalyn) Hahah. Awesome. :D


message 23: by Sarah (new)

Sarah I've not read this whole section yet - just finished reading the chapter where Libby goes to meet Barb Eichel, the author of the book on the massacre.

This is the first book Gillian Flynn book I have read and I love her writing style. I will definitely be reading her other books. I have got sucked in to the story pretty quickly.

My first impressions of Libby is that she is a very broken lady, and quite understandably given what she went through as a child. I was very surprised to learn that she was 31 years old - she is very vulnerable, a little naïve perhaps too, immature for her age and socially inept - as Connie mentioned, she reminds me of Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - both had very traumatic upbringings.

Libby is a very depressing person and still has that victim mentality, perhaps using it as an excuse for why she doesn't interact with the world or do grown up things like go to work etc. That said, she's never been encouraged to move on especially as she has been cashing in on being the victim all these years.

I couldn't believe her sense of entitlement to money from well wishers but I think there might be more to it. She was passed around family after what happened and as she grew up had no friends or meaningful relationships so perhaps these well wishers felt like the only love she got?!?

Yes Libby is unlikeable in her behaviours and attitudes, but I quite like that about her and therefore I feel like I like her too. I think I'm also one of those people who try to find some good in a person (or maybe that's the therapist in me).

Well, I love the idea of the Kill Club (for the book not real life) and I can why it would be popular. There are so many people out there who are interested in true crime. I think the section of the club who are "solvers" is great especially for someone who is very logical, curious and likes puzzles - there are so many unsolved crimes out there for them to get their teeth in to. The other section of "role players" is much darker. People do role play or re-enactment for so many different events such as the civil war, Viking invasion, etc., so why not for murders?!? It is just less easy to swallow, very gruesome, morbid and in bad taste!

I think Libby was very brave (or very stupid) to show up to the Kill Club on her own - I'd have been thinking that they were all wannabee serial killers.

I couldn't believe how strongly the Day Group verbally attacked Libby accusing her of lying etc. They didn't seem to have any regard for her feelings over the event that happened or by the accusation. I am very curious about the women who strongly back dangerous criminals, even getting involved with them - there are many women who have married death row inmates.

I liked Ben and Libby as children and there relationship was enchanting. Ben was the typical teenager I though, trying to rebel and find his feet in the world. Clearly trying to fit in with the crowd, taking some minor slack from friends/acquaintances. The day before the massacre, he didn't give me the impression of being a kid who is disturbed, on the edge or with anger issues so I'm thinking he didn't do it.

I'm liking the little clues throughout to get us thinking who it might have been.

Their family was in debt and it made me think perhaps the serial killer they dubbed "Angel of Debt" might have been going for longer than they thought?!? I also wondered about Kill Club members involvement as they clearly are fanatical. Can't wait to read on...


message 24: by Janice (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 801 comments I agree with all your comments, Sarah!

I'll put this in a spoiler because it's not revealed until later in the book. It may or may not be a spoiler, but you might appreciate it more if you read it as Gillian reveals it, (view spoiler)

I also have to agree with your comments about women falling in love with dangerous men. Is it some character flaw in them that makes them feel they don't deserve better? Is it an overwhelming need to mother and care for the underdog? Or is it the Romeo & Juliet complex - forbidden love?


message 25: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Janice wrote: "I agree with all your comments, Sarah!

I'll put this in a spoiler because it's not revealed until later in the book. It may or may not be a spoiler, but you might appreciate it more if you read..."


Who knows what goes through their minds Janice! Bonnie and Clyde syndrome perhaps explains some of the cases.

I get what you said about the "thrill of the kill" in relation to perhaps the murderer being a member of the Kill Club. Also a lot of killers want their crime to be attributed to them and in this instance, the murders where attributed to Ben so the real murderer might feel put out and want to get to the bottom of the mystery, by being in the kill club, so that he (or she) could be recognised for their work! Just an idea?!


message 26: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 466 comments Great comments, Sarah! Gillian Flynn's other books are also thought provoking like this one, with flawed characters that you come to understand little by little as their background is revealed.
Libby acts brave sometimes, but seems to become exhausted from the effort; she lives very independently (by necessity it seems), and yet is unable to take care of herself at all. At times it feels like she is frozen in time with the maturity of a seven year old in a thirty-one year old body.

Sarah wrote: "I think Libby was very brave (or very stupid) to show up to the Kill Club on her own - I'd have been thinking that they were all wannabee serial killers."


message 27: by Tia (new)

Tia (juxalyn) Sarah wrote: "Also a lot of killers want their crime to be attributed to them and in this instance, the murders where attributed to Ben so the real murderer might feel put out and want to get to the bottom of the mystery, by being in the kill club, so that he (or she) could be recognised for their work! "

Exactly! And there's still that shoe print that keeps being mentioned. That may be the rope that hangs the murderer, maybe.

*** POSSIBLE SPOILER SECTION BELOW ***

On another note, I love the imagery that Flynn uses when she writes. The locker scene when Ben reach in and was looking at the items inside, I felt like I was looking inside the locker with him. And then how she tied it back to story later on. Mentioning how his teachers had seen him snooping around earlier that day. Lawyers are such shits, in this book, I mean. Only they would be able to take a single second out of a whole day and equate it to: he was looking for personal items of people he hated to use them in his devil spells! The 80's were so naive.

Also, the mention of Ben maybe luring a witch to the house that ended up killing the family, that creeped me out so bad. I definitely slept with the nightstand lamp on last night. LOL!


message 28: by Kelly (last edited Sep 29, 2013 07:47PM) (new)

Kelly Knowles (lakekel) | 2 comments ***Spoiler Alert*** In case you haven't finished the book.....Don't read! :)

Libby was a very unlikeable character, but Jillian Flynn's writing really pulling me in. I just couldn't stop. I needed to find out what really happened. The Kill Club was such a twisted club, but I could see organizations like this really existing and it took 24 years and this push for Libby to open her eyes and search out the truth.

I felt like I was right there looking in. Ben was a follower trying to fit in and very misunderstood. He did some very wrong things, but not as wrong as people wanted to think. I hated Diondra and what she did to Ben right from the introduction of her character. A lot of pieces in this puzzle and it seems like the police at the time just wanted this to be a done deal and Ben convicted. The whole devil worship scare the the 80's. Him dying his hair black and listening to heavy metal.

I had a little more sympathy for Lizzy after realizing how angry she must be at 7 years old, losing her whole world and having a horrible father and no one to really turn to. For lawyers making her believe her brother was guilty and rewarding her for agreeing with them.

This book was like an accident, you don't want to keep looking, but you need to see what happened. I couldn't stop reading it. I thought the book was excellent and gave it 5 stars. This is the first book I've read by Gillian Flynn, but I intend to read more. Love her style!


message 29: by Janice (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 801 comments Kelly wrote: This book was like an accident, you don't want to keep looking, but you need to see what happened. I couldn't stop reading it. I thought the book was excellent and gave it 5 stars. This is the first book I've read by Gillian Flynn, but I intend to read more. Love her style!.."

That's a great analogy, Kelly!


message 30: by Debra (last edited Oct 09, 2013 09:37AM) (new)

Debra (debra_t) | 2574 comments Mod
You all have made some fantastic comments and musings, so far. I'm trying to look for those clues, too. Yeah, what about the shoe print, huh? And the bit of unmatched blood on the sheet?

That last chapter of this section ended with Ben getting a kiss from a elementary school girl and getting turned on. What was Ben thinking!? If the murders hadn't happened, he would have gotten in trouble over that. Whispers were already going around.

The Kill Club probably DOES exist, today. It is not far-fetched at all. Love it as a plot point in the book and a way for Libby to get involved in solving the murders.

I agree that Libby is a very unlikeable character, yet I feel some sympathy for her. I'm waiting for her to get some backbone, too. Her sense of entitlement is annoying.


message 31: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 466 comments Debra: You are right, the Kill Club was a very effective mechanism and helped us to understand more about the murders in a very efficient way. I could picture the group getting together and discussing their "favorite" murders, and not knowing how creepy that really was, or not caring. Libby getting involved with them shows how desperate she was. I just couldn't imagine that being comfortable for her, even if they hadn't verbally attacked her.
Debra wrote: "The Kill Club probably DOES exist, today. It is not far-fetched at all. Love it as a plot point in the book and a way for Libby to get involved in solving the murders. "


message 32: by Sarah (new)

Sarah The Kill Club was a great part of the story. It wouldn't have been the same if the police or a detective had reopened the case because it wouldn't have involved Libby (other than for questioning) and it wouldn't have made her grow as a person.


message 33: by Almeta, co-moderator (new)

Almeta (menfrommarrs) | 1093 comments Mod
Kelly wrote: This book was like an accident, you don't want to keep looking, but you need to see what happened. I couldn't stop reading it. ..."

Yesss, exactly!


message 34: by Debra (new)

Debra (debra_t) | 2574 comments Mod
Sarah wrote: "The Kill Club was a great part of the story. It wouldn't have been the same if the police or a detective had reopened the case because it wouldn't have involved Libby (other than for questioning) a..."

You're right, Sarah. Libby would have never come out of hiding if she hadn't found a mystery to solve!


message 35: by Linda (new)

Linda Boyd (boydlinda95gmailcom) | 598 comments I agree with Almeta it is hard to picture Libby as a 31 year old women, I think she is "stuck" or not growing/developing as a "normal" adult would with the tragedy that happened to her family. I'm sure with as poor as her family was, and nothing was said about this, but I think her extended family who took care of her was probably not that well off either. She would not have gotten any counseling to help her deal with it all. I think that is why she feels entitled to the donations that people gave out of the goodness of their hearts.

I like Duane can see the Kill Club being something that people would want to take apart of now, it is just creepy enough .

Also, with Patty, I also got the impression that she was a little bit afraid of him, or not really sure of how to parent him, which was why she purchased that book and then kept it hidden from everyone. Since there was no longer a man in the house she didn't really know what to do with him.


message 36: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 466 comments Linda: Patty really did seem to be at sea with what to do with Ben, but it seemed like it was basically a loving family, poor yes, but hard working and devoted to their farm.
Linda wrote: "Also, with Patty, I also got the impression that she was a little bit afraid of him, or not really sure of how to parent him, which was why she purchased that book and then kept it hidden from everyone. Since there was no longer a man in the house she didn't really know what to do with him. "


message 37: by Almeta, co-moderator (last edited Oct 20, 2013 03:19PM) (new)

Almeta (menfrommarrs) | 1093 comments Mod
Ann wrote: "Linda: Patty really did seem to be at sea with what to do with Ben, but it seemed like it was basically a loving family, poor yes, but hard working and devoted to their farm. ..."

Linda wrote: "Since there was no longer a man in the house she didn't really know what to do with him. ..."

Yeah, I did think there was love there. Ben and Libby especially seemed to understand one another a little more. Still there were some other scenes where the others showed some bond, like when Ben found ribbons on the handlebars of his bike. They may have embarrassed him in front of his friends, but it was touching.

Teenage boy in with the wrong crowd, and wrong age. What can you do?


message 38: by Linda (last edited Oct 20, 2013 04:52PM) (new)

Linda Boyd (boydlinda95gmailcom) | 598 comments I enjoyed reading that section when the kids were at the breakfast table - Libby and Ben talking, It felt like Ben had a stronger bond with his younger sister. You know how kids go thru that faze of telling on their siblings - that was where Michelle was, telling on Ben about wearing his hat at the table and complaining that Ben was getting eggs for breakfast and that she wanted eggs also - when she didn't like eggs to begin with.

And I agree that they had a very loving household, just very poor.


message 39: by Debra (new)

Debra (debra_t) | 2574 comments Mod
Yes, I agree that they had a loving family; Ben was just going thru that horrid teenage phase and got in with the wrong people. Most teenagers rebel, but Ben just got unlucky with his poor choices.


message 40: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 466 comments The timing of everything was on a fine thread and so many things conspired against Ben, else he could have simply been a typical angst-ridden teenager.


message 41: by Debra (new)

Debra (debra_t) | 2574 comments Mod
Excellent point, Ann!


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