Review: Dark Places – Gillian Flynn

dark placesLibby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars.

Since then, she has been drifting. But when she is contacted by a group who are convinced of Ben’s innocence, Libby starts to ask questions she never dared to before. Was the voice she heard her borther’s? Ben was a misfit in their small town, but was he capable of murder? Are there secrets to uncover at the family farm or is Libby deluding herself because she wants her brother back?

She begins to realise that everyone in her family had something to hide that day… especially Ben. Now, twenty-four years later, the truth is going to be even harder to find.

Who did massacre the Day family?

Rating: 4/5

Dark Places is my third book by Gillian Flynn, so I was well-prepared for the disturbing psychological nature of the story to follow. And it was a great read, despite the gruesome nature of the crime which forms the central plot of the book.

A few things stood out for me, namely, the poverty and the desperate measures it drives people to, the sheer cruelty of teenagers to those who are different, the lengths people will go to to protect others, and how guilty people can appear when those from the outside take a closer look at their lives.

As with all Flynn’s novels, the main female character is an unlikeable one, but this isn’t a criticism – as I read somewhere, it’s excellent that we are obtaining problematic female characters in a genre mostly dominated by men, and where women are usually cardboard cutouts to further the development of the man.

Furthermore, you can’t help but feel sympathy for Libby Day, despite her methods of obtaining cash by exploiting the interest in her family tragedy, and her kleptomaniac tendencies. The novel also takes a good hard look at our culture’s collective fascination for brutal crimes, the constant speculation of ‘whodunnit’, the vicarious entertainment we find. And there are those who take it even further, as depicted in the book – forming clubs centered around prolific crimes, playing detective, and creating a hobby out of the macabre.

Review: Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn

sharp objectsWICKED above her hipbone, GIRL across her heart 
Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls.

NASTY on her kneecap, BABYDOLL on her leg 
Since she left town eight years ago, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed again in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille is haunted by the childhood tragedy she has spent her whole life trying to cut from her memory.

HARMFUL on her wrist, WHORE on her ankle 
As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Clues keep leading to dead ends, forcing Camille to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to get at the story. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming.

Rating: 4/5

Argh! I don’t even know how to review this book. If you check out what other people have written about Sharp Objects, you’ll know that it’s extremely dark, twisted and highly, highly disturbing.

We have child abuse, borderline alcoholism, drug use, promiscuity, serial killers, broken families, psychological issues…But the writing and the plot are so compelling that you simply have to keep reading, until you’ve reached the end and your facial expression is more along the lines of O________O.

The book also tackles class and money issues, as well as commentary on certain gender divides and appearance as currency. You can feel the small town claustrophobia, the long hot days of boredom, the too-grown teenag girls teasing and manipulating their way around people.

Sharp Objects deals with some of the worse specimens of humanity – we all have our issues, there’s no denying that, but some people are more screwed up than others, and the people around them bear the scars to differing extents.

It’s cutting, it’s despairing, it takes a long hard look at the uglier parts of society.

The pretty girl might do alright. But the piggy middle child, who now waddled dazedly into the rom, was destined for needy sex and snack-cake bingeing. The boy was the type who’d end up drinking in gas-station parking lots. The kind of angry, bored kid I saw on my way into town.