I want to read everything Gillian Flynn has ever written. I don’t just mean her three best-selling novels. I’m talking every short story, article, essay, note, to-do list, quote in the margin of a book and scribble on a used napkin. She is absolutely twisted and undeniably brilliant.
It’s been a while since I gave any book 5 stars on Goodreads. I really try to save those for stories that have me fighting every iota of my being that says I need to close the book and get some sleep. Fellow lit lovers know what I’m talking about.
Dark Places is just that, a story that you will not want to put down even when you’re fighting to keep your eyes open or have reached a “good stopping point” and have other sh*t to do. It’s just not going to happen.
First of all, you will probably hate Libby Day, the protagonist of the novel. I even hesitate to call her a protagonist because of the positive connotations associated with the word. Sure, she’s been through a lot with her brother (maybe) massacring her
mother and sisters when she was a little girl in what seems like a Satanic ritual, but still. Don’t worry folks, that wasn’t a spoiler. Once you discover what a thieving, conniving, selfish woman she is (which is within the first few pages), you sort of want to slap her. What’s incredible about Flynn’s writing
is how she makes you ENJOY disliking her. Your disgust with the character somehow doesn’t take away from the intrigue of her story.
Without giving too much away, Libby’s brother, Ben, has been in jail for 25 years—serving time for the murders that Libby believes he committed. When it comes to light that Ben may not have been the killer after all, Libby is thrown into an impromptu investigation that reopens all the doors of her past that she intentionally kept locked for so many years.
The story is captivating, morbid and intense with twists and surprises at every turn. The chapters alternate between Libby in the present day and flashbacks to the day of the murders (through the P.O.V. of Libby’s mother and brother). The interspersed chapters are deliciously infuriating. When you’re in the present, you want to stay there, but then the flashback chapters draw you in and you don’t want to leave those either.
I can’t say enough good things about this novel. There were no lulls in the story, no points where I wondered, “Why do we need to know this?” On a side note, I absolutely hate when writers do that fluff. Every sentence is interesting and valuable. Every word is expertly chosen to contribute to the incredibly dark story. If you’re anything like me, you’ll love Dark Places just as much as Gone Girl, maybe even a smidgen more. Trust me. Pick them both up, read them and then tell me I was right so I can say, “I told you so.” Sharp Places is definitely a high priority on my to-read list, so look out for that review soon (hopefully).
By the way … as far as the movies go, Gone Girl was excellent. I mean it was really, really fantastic. The acting was impressive and I loved how everything stayed true to the book. On the contrary, I found that Dark Places was lacking despite the surprisingly great cast (I’m really late on both of these flicks, I know). It was just missing so many of the book’s intricate details that I felt greatly contributed to the story. It also moved incredibly fast—too fast. Usually I don’t mind this, but there were a lot more scenes that were vital to the progression of the investigation. (Sigh) I guess it could’ve been worse. Who doesn’t love a little Charlize Theron, right?