Also by this author: Gone Girl
Published by Crown Publishing Group on May 5, 2009
Genres/Lists: Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Read synopsis on Goodreads
Buy the book: Amazon/Audible (this post includes affiliate links)
I have very vivid memories from my childhood, some real and some made up. But it’s the ones I’ve told myself over and over that I dreamt up that I believe the most fiercely. For example, I swear I saw my mom fall down the stairs when I was 3, but I’m told this never really happened. I also swear that I dumped a bucket of sand in my eyes when I was putting the bucket on top of my slide, whereas my family swears that I was digging in the sandbox and flipped the sand in my eye with a shovel. I bring these memories up because, defying all logic, I still maintain my side of the story. After all, how could my own memories be so completely wrong? And if I can’t even rely on myself to remember things properly, then what else am I mistaken about? These are the questions at the heart of Gillian Flynn’s novel, Dark Places.
As a child, Libby Day watched her brother butcher her sisters and mother, ultimately providing the testimony that sent him to jail for life. As the years pass by, Libby bounces around from home to home living off of the donations do-gooders provided to poor, little Libby. As the money runs out, lazy Libby decides to take up an offer from a murder-fan club seeking to exonerate her brother. She figures it will be a piece of cake because, after all, her brother is 100% guilty. But as she begins asking questions and talking to players from the past, Libby begins questioning the integrity of her own memory and asks herself, what if?
There are a lot of reasons I liked this book and I raced through the bulk of it, one of which is that the chapters are told from multiple viewpoints and points in time. It sounds confusing but Flynn’s way of writing makes it work. It’s also pretty neat that each chapter is threaded together by what seems to be a minute detail but ends up having a significant impact on the story. Unfortunately, the last 30-40 pages pretty much knocked it down from ‘great book’ status to ‘decent book’ status for a number of reasons, including character development and plot. All of the good things I had been saying and thinking up until that point deflated like a party balloon on a hot day.
In the end, I’m left feeling pretty ambivalent about Dark Places. I don’t know that Flynn is of the caliber to have a ‘classic’ style yet, but if so, then Libby is a classically Flynn character: flawed, damaged, and still charming. So, if you like that, then you might enjoy this book.
Bottom line: The writing was great but the story fell flat.
Meanwhile, this book is already being turned into a movie starring Charlize Theron, which is interesting because she’s a full 14 inches taller than Libby Day.
What was the last book that fell flat for you?