Dark Places – Gillian Flynn

Finally, I’m here to share the last review of the books I read during my holiday.

Dark Places is the last of Gillian Flynn’s books I had yet to read, and unfortunately I reacted to it more like I did with Sharp Objects than Gone Girl. It really made me incredily uncomfortable in places, and disgusted in others. It is not a bad book, let’s get that out of the way. It’s not good either, for me this is very apparently written before Gone Girl. The way time is used, like the time line and the overall structure of the book reminds me of Gone Girl but then it feels like a trial run, like the first draft of the idea.

For me, it feels as if the things Gillian Flynn tries to do in Sharp Objects and Dark Places are only really mastered in Gone Girl. In other words the writing I appreciated in Gone Girl does not exist in the backlog. This is I suppose one of the downsides with starting with the last book and going backwards, with an author’s work.

Dark Places focuses on Libby Day whose family (mother, and two sisters – both around 10 years old) was murdered when she was 7 years old. We follow Libby as she tries to figure out what really happened, who was responsible for the killings; her then 15 year old brother Ben, her alcoholic gambling father Runner, or someone else entirely? Part of the book follows Libby in this search, 24 years after the murders. The other half of the book – more specifially every other chapter throughout the book, follows one of the characters on that day (mostly Ben and Patty – her mother) starting from the day before the murders and getting closer to the time of the murders as the book progresses.

I like the structure of the novel for the most part. It makes for an exciting build up. For the actual writing though, there were a lot of times that I wanted to roll my eyes. Many lines felt almost “secondhand”, overused, I can’t quite describe it but it lacked genuinety for me. It’s not to say it isn’t readable, in fact I read it faster than I had planned but it felt more like I was eating junkfood than savouring a delicious treat.

As for the story itself, again it’s not that it’s bad. The mystery aspect is thrilling. But there are so many parts of this book, particularly the animal abuse, that really disgusted me and I feel like these parts of the book were explained so detail rich for shock value. In that way it’s somewhat like a splatter movie, just shoving the shock down your throat. I didn’t appreciate this in Sharp Objects, and the same goes for Dark Places.

It’s quite possible that these books just aren’t to my taste, that the overly explicit style upsets me, or it might just be that I don’t like the way Flynn handled these themes. For a thriller murder mystery it’s an interesting book, but the lacking writing and the shock value took away from my enjoyment.

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2 comments

  1. ryandejonghe · August 11, 2015

    I don’t mind the dark subject matter, but the writing style kills it. I enjoyed Gone Girl (minus the ending) and have been wondering about her other books, so your great review gives me a taste of it. Thank you!!

    • Nayu · August 11, 2015

      Thank you for your kind comment! Yeah, unfortunately I was disappointed in the writing. I think subject is mostly a preference thing (and as I stated, it wasn’t for me) but the writing in my opinion was sort of unpolished. I’m happy it was helpful 🙂

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