Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Book Review: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

After reading and enjoying Sharp Objects and Gone Girl last year, my friend Joyce and I decided to read Dark Places, Gillian Flynn's second book, together at the beginning of the year.  When Libby was seven her mother and two sisters were murdered in her home and her troubled teenage brother convicted of the killings.  Now, twenty-five years later, Libby has started to question what really happened and begins to investigate with the help of a secret society who is obsessed with the murders.

Gillian Flynn is really a master at characterization.  Her characters are almost exclusively unlikable and at times even repulsive, but with a slight tinge of something sympathetic.  They are just so very horrible and yet, as a reader, I'm drawn to them and intrigued by them.  They all have reasons for being evil.  And little quirks that make you feel sorry for them just when you are so overwhelmed by their repulsiveness that you feel like giving up.  They're believable.  Just totally completely believable.  Maybe I don't know anyone like them - but I know people who could become like them given that set of circumstances.  The plot is really secondary in terms of writing because her characters are such train wrecks.

Entertainment Value
Ok, so I know I just raved about the characterization, but as far as entertainment goes, this was my least favorite of Flynn's books.  It was good - although I think it started a bit slow - and certainly kept my attention.  But the darkness was just a little bit too unrelenting for me.  Everyone is just truly awful, which in some ways I like, but I wanted to see one normal person.  One person who is not totally, irrevocably damaged to the point of no salvation.  And it's honestly just not there.  Yes, the characters are sympathetic and believable and incredibly complex, but the sheer amount of sub-plot horrible-ness was overwhelming.  The book is dark enough dealing with a family massacre, an absentee father, and a disturbed young woman. The numerous subplots and rabbit trails just made it depressing.

I liked the book.  If you're a fan of Flynn's or of other dark authors/books I think you ought to read it and that you'll enjoy it.  Just be warned that there really isn't much in the way of hope or redemption at any point.


  1. I considered trying another by her but I didn't enjoy Gone Girl and have decided not to bother.

    You became a fast fan Julie, great for you.

  2. I'll have to keep in mind that this one might be the darkest of her books so far. I loved Gone Girl but I can understand what you're saying about wishing this one had at least one normal person, LOL. I still look forward to reading this and Sharp Objects!