Sunday, 11 January 2015

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn - Book Review

5/5 Stars

Home is where the lies are...

Edition: Paperback
Pages: 421
Chapters: 43
Publisher: Phoenix

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Author's Website


Okay. This is something. Something dark and twisted and so perfectly pieced together it hurts. Dark Places soars above its fantastic predecessor, Sharp Objects, and I have no idea how to match it up to its successor Gone Girl. It's just that good that I'm hesitant in saying it nudges ahead for me personally. All three of Gillian Flynn's novels have no relation to one another - apart from the darkness and all having the same author - with each being a standalone, and damn, can Ms Flynn write or what!? Dark Places takes you to so many Dark Places that I advise you to read this in the midst of as much light and happiness as you can.

Libby Day was seven-years-old when her family were massacred. And it was her evidence that put her brother away for life for it.
But now, twenty-four years later, everything is about to change.
A group of obsessed people, all who salivate over the story of Libby's past, contact her. They're all convinced that her brother, Ben, is innocent of the crimes he's locked up for. They're all just as desperate for Libby to help prove it.
But Libby Day just doesn't want to believe it; she was there, she survived, and will forever be haunted by her family's screams.
But doubt inches in like a slug. She begins to question her own memories.
Can Libby survive a trip to those Dark Places, to the past and people that hold the key to unlocking that terrifying night?
More importantly, does she even want to?

Dark Places holds almost unflinchingly onto its title. Libby Day has to delve back into her own, and it's a spine tingling and acidic journey. The intricacy of the way everything is plotted and woven together is as on point as any story could wish for. From beginning, to end. You are absorbed into the shadowy world, with the exact same emotions as the main character: The reluctance to go down such a dark, dirty path, but also the insistent need to find answers to questions you don't want to ask. I'd say this book is the darkest - so far -  out of all of Gillian Flynn's novels, at least for me anyway. I feel dirty after reading it, but strangely content as well.

The structure of Dark Places flickers from the present to the past. With Libby taking first-person starring role in the present, and various other characters taking third-person parts in the past. The past focuses on roughly one day: The big Massacre the Days day. It's done brilliantly; there's no feeling of discombobulation or confusion, it flows smoothly, with none of the pages feeling wasted.

Again, you'll hear how I love the author's characters. I've found with Ms Flynn's characters that there's rarely any you're supposed to like fully. I mean, I feel sympathy and pity for Camille in Sharp Objects, and a lot of the same emotions for Libby in this novel, but there's not really anyone I could say I root for. It's actually refreshing, and effective. This way, you still go on an emotional ride with the book's characters, but you also have the coolly logical part of your brain unhampered enough to admire the depth and layers of the people whose journey you're walking on.

Dark Places' major theme is lies. The darkness that can surround a lie, how it never ever leaves, and eventually, you're going to have to trudge back to it and make a decision: Right your wrong, or live with that hollow inside forever. I think, despite everything, it's a positive message. It's a lesson - albeit a highly extreme one in our characters' cases -  of how lying doesn't achieve anything. A slight reprieve, but not a permanent one. A lie, big or small, will chew at you for a long time. Even if you forget it, one day your brain will spite you with it.

I think I've decided. I think for me, Dark Places is my favourite of Ms Flynn's three novels. Sharp Objects focuses heavily on its cast and their journey, and while those journeys link massively with the overarching plot, it still gets lost a little; Gone Girl on the other hand has such a grandiose plot, that even though its characters are something fantastic, they suffer. Dark Places strikes an almost perfect balance between the two. It's truly amazing.

And surprisingly, at least for me anyway, the novel ends on a, well... chipper tone. It's not exactly sunshine and rainbows, but not the soul suck I expected.

Definitely think I'm going to lay off the dark and disturbing thrillers for awhile - which probably means just check back next week, I'll have picked up another.

For more Gillian Flynn reviews: Index

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