Saturday, February 27, 2016

Book Thoughts: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Dark PlacesDark Places by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Libby "Baby" Day is the only surviving member of a brutal murder that claimed her mother and her two older sisters. Her brother, Ben, stands accused of the murders--based largely on Libby's testimony, which she admits early is a lie, and his uncooperative behavior--and has spent twenty-five years in prison for the murders. Libby has spent these years living on a trust fund created by sympathizers for her while living in a perpetual state of self-destruction. However, her sympathizers have largely moved on to other tragedies, and Libby's money has dried up. In desperation, Libby begins helping a group known as the "kill club" to investigate the circumstances surrounding her family's death and her brother's possible innocence.

The murder of Libby's family has left her ambitionless, lost. She doesn't want to work and doesn't want to "try" to lead anything that might resemble a normal life. She's spent the past decades barely bothering to keep her own utilities on. She's grown into a selfish woman who tries to use her misfortune to continue her sorry existence. While this might not endear her to many readers, I can understand her turning out as she did. Everyone doesn't grow from their tragedies, or at least, they don't grow in ways that would be deemed positive. Libby doesn't have many redeeming qualities, but her life view, her attitudes, were bred out of a necessity to protect herself. It isn't until she starts investigating her family's deaths at the behest of the kill club that she starts to actually have an aim in her life as she works past her painful memories in her own way.

This is the first book that I've read by Gillian Flynn. I have watched Gone Girl finally, but I still haven't read the book. I started Dark Places on a whim after two of my friends flailed over the book. I also remembered catching a quick glimpse of the end of the movie, and curiosity got the better of me with this story. (I've since watched the whole movie.) This started a bit slow, but it finally hit a stride with me a few hours in. This book is told from three different perspectives--Libby's, her mother Patty's, and her brother's Ben. The latter two tell the story from the past on the day of the murder. What a journey this story is. Aside from the mystery aspect, there are so many things being touched on here from abuse to poverty. It's a dark, depressing story revolving around people who didn't have much going for them in 1985 and certainly don't have much going for them now. This also captured the sensationalism that follows cases like this fairly well.

I follow a popular-ish case in the media involving a man who was convicted of his ex-girlfriend's murder in 1999 when they were seniors in high school. He recently had a hearing to see if he'd be granted a new trial after 16 years in prison--a decision that the judge is still working on after five days of testimony in early February. Parts of this book made me reflect on just how true it feels to real life as far as people putting a sensational slant on such a tragic event. I have watched supporters of the man convicted of this murder express dismay toward the family because they still maintained the system worked. It hasn't been as nasty as the portrayal in this book, but this book certainly captured the culture of amateur sleuths while showing how painful/traumatizing this can be for families that live through these tragedies. People often forget about the victims or try to pooh-pooh their feelings with cases like these.

Narration wise, the narrators for this book did such a wonderful job with the story, and I liked that there were three different narrators (with one additional narrator for a single chapter told from a completely different character's POV, which I felt could've been skipped or written into either Libby's or Ben's parts) for each of the characters. However, I can't rate this higher than a 3.5 because some parts of this plot was just too unbelievable for me to let go. A perfect storm led up to the murders with one terrible thing piling up one after another, which I largely accepted, but then the big reveal at the end had me shaking my head like: "This book is doing way too much right now with this."

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2016 Reading Challenge

2016 Reading Challenge
Tiara has read 6 books toward her goal of 52 books.

Tiara's bookshelf: currently-reading

The Elfstones Of Shannara
tagged: upcoming-reads, currently-reading, 2016-audiobook-challenge, classi...
Gardens of the Moon
tagged: currently-reading, fantasy, z-narrator-ralph-lister, 2016-audiobook...

Tiara's bookshelf: read

really liked it
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tagged: 2016-star-wars-reading-challenge and 2016-audiobook-challenge
The Girl from the Well
liked it
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tagged: 2016-women-of-genre-fiction-reading, horror, and young-adult
Thirteen Reasons Why
I don't think this quite captures the complexity of bullying and suicide, and some of the issues that Hannah started facing toward the end of the novel really seemed to detract even more from the feelings she was going through by having ...
tagged: young-adult, popsugar-2016-reading-challenge, 2016-audiobook-challe...
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
liked it
Spoiler free review to come.
tagged: 2016-star-wars-reading-challenge
The Phantom of the Opera
really liked it
tagged: classic-horror, classics, audiobook, 2016-audiobook-challenge, horr...

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