Review: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

 DarkPlaces

Title: Dark Places

Author: Gillian Flynn

Publisher: Random House

Genre: Mystery, General Fiction

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars out of 5

Libby Day was 7 when her mother and two sisters were murdered and her brother, Ben accused of the murder.  Now in her early 30’s, the majority of the world has lost interest in her case and the funds from strangers that Libby had been living off of are dwindling.  Faced with having to get a real job to support herself, Libby finds herself intertwined with members of a true crime society called The Kill Club.  They are convinced Ben is innocent and look to Libby to provide them access to people close to the case to provide the evidence needed to get Ben out of prison. Libby has spent the last 25 years avoiding talking to the surviving members of her family, including Ben. But desparate times call for desparate measures and Libby finds herself putting together the pieces of what exactly happened that night.

Like other Flynn novels, Dark Places is told by several narrators including Libby, Ben and their mother Patty.  Ben and Patty’s narration focuses on the day of the murders and the events leading up to that time. This provides the reader with information that Libby doesn’t have, making her an unreliable narrator at times.  Libby is often playing catch up as she speaks to people who were involved in her family’s life back in 1985.  I found this novel really hard to put down and entertaining. It runs at a steady pace and the characters are pretty well realized.  This book has the same amount of grit that Gone Girl does, especially in the descriptions of Kansas City. In fact, both novels feel like they take place in the same world, which could be coincidence or by design.

My biggest issue with this book is that it has too many twists. It almost feels like Flynn uses a twist to pick the story back up any time it lags. I started to think that no family could possibly have luck this bad, with it all happening around the same time.  I’ve read both Sharp Objects and Gone Girl and they both feel less convoluted and tighter in terms of plot.  I found myself at times forgetting I should be interested in whether or not Ben actually committed the murders and more interested in other things that were going on in the novel.  Not that the twists aren’t entertaining,  but they’re distracting from the main event and therefore each revelation tends to lose its impact.  I had a really hard time deciding what to rate this book because I did like it a lot. I just think Flynn’s other books are better. If I had read Dark Places first, my rating might have been higher. This book is being released as a movie starring Charlize Theron as Libby  in the same year as David Fincher’s adaptation of Gone Girl. It’ll be interesting to see how the two movies compare.  My money is still on Gone Girl, but Dark Places should also be a great piece of dark entertainment.

Advertisements

The Coaster Book Challenge

I didn’t get a whole lot of new books for Christmas, but I did get some a couple really cool literary-inspired items.  I’ve decided to use two of these items to create a challenge.  My sister-in-law and brother bought me a set of literary-inspired drink coasters from Out Of Print. Each coaster represents a different book cover.  My boyfriend’s sister bought me the book Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails With A Literary Twist by Tim Federie.  I’m not a big drinker, but I like puns and I do have a stocked bar cart that doesn’t get a whole lot of attention. The boyfriend and I probably should entertain more.  So I’ve decided to take the book titles and read each book while enjoying a cocktail inspired by that title.

Rules:

  1. I must make the cocktail and drink it while reading the book at least once. I will get the boyfriend to take a pic.
  2. I reserve the right to not finish a book, because life is too short to force myself to read a book I hate. I must give the book until at least page 50.
  3. All cocktails will be finished 🙂
  4.  I will post a review of both the cocktail (with recipe) and the book when I am finished with them.

Book & Cocktail Pairings for Challenge:

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov/The Lolita Cocktail

The Hound of The Baskervilles by Sir A. Conan Doyle/ The Adventures of Sherbet Holmes ( I may also make this for episodes of Sherlock Season 3 on PBS)

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller/ Catch-22 cocktail

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley/ Brave New Swirled

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell/Victory Gin Gimlet

On The Road by Jack Kerouac/Wine Spodiodi

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison/ The Invisible Man

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen/ Rye and Prejudice

About half of these came from Tequila Mockingbird. The rest I found various places on the internet and I’ll post the links when I post my reviews.  While the books are set in stone (or on coasters) for this challenge, the drinks are not. If you have any suggestions for other drinks related to any of these books, please leave a comment. I can always make more than one drink during the course of reading one book.  Happy Reading!

Review: The Fallout by S.A. Bodeen (series spoilers)

TheFalloute

Title: The Fallout (The Compound #2)

Author: S.A. Bodeen

Publisher:  MacMillan

Genre: YA

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

As promised I am attempting to review everything I read this year.  I received The Fallout from work as a Christmas present, the only novel I received this year.  I had selected it from a stack my manager had brought back from a conference. The story sounded post-apocalyptic, which is a subgenre I love, so I put my name on it.  I didn’t realize at the time it was the second book in a series. When I discovered, that I thought, “Oh well, if I like this book, I’ll go back and read the first one.”

 While, it isn’t really necessary to read the first book to understand the second book, this review will contain spoilers for The Compound, there’s really no way around it. The Fallout takes place soon after the events of The Compound.  The basic story line is that Eli and his family have escaped The Compund, where they were confined for 6 years. They are now in hiding from society while they acclaimate back into it.  Eli is coming to terms with the fact that his twin brother, Eddy, did not die in a nuclear event and is very much still alive.  Eli feels responsible for Eddy, along with the twins’ grandmother,  being left out of The Compound, for reasons that are explained in this novel.  Eddy is coming to terms with the idea that his family is more numerous than it was before they went in The Compound.  The whole family is healing and trying to figure out who they can trust and what to do with the patriarch’s business, now that he is dead.

This novel wants to explore a lot of different ideas it doesn’t deliver on, which I found very disappointing.  Even if the whole Compound thing was a hoax set up by their father, the family dealing with that betrayal emotionally is still an interesting idea.  The problem is that the only really developed characters are the older children, Eli,Eddy and Lexie.  The adults in this novel almost feel like afterthoughts, like they’re only there because these kids aren’t legally old enough to live on their own. Mom just frets constantly and tries to keep them inside to protect them from a threat that never seems real.  The family’s six year absence is supposed to be big national news, but there are no scenes of paparazzi camped outside their new home.  Even once the family starts going on weekly outings, the public doesn’t really seem to bother them much.  They only meet two seemingly shady characters and one is forgotten almost as quickly as he is mentioned.

Other frustrating things about this novel involved slow pacing and lazy writing.  The first two hundred pages of this novel were pretty lacking in tension.  I felt cheated by this because the cover and the blurb for the book seem to promise lots of tension.  The most tense scene involved the family going to Costco and Eli becoming suspicious of that one shady character I mentioned earlier in this review.  Even the last 130 pages, where the real antagonists are revealed, involve characters that don’t seem very threatening.  I know this is a YA novel, but I’ve read other YA with real villians. It just makes the novel seem lazy and boring. Also I was desparately bothered that the author spent so much time focusing on what the characters were wearing every time a new day started or a character entered a room.  I used to do that when I was trying to write my first story, at age 10.

I think the family dynamic was what kept me reading this novel.  I did like the relationships between the three oldest kids.  Or maybe it’s my resistance against not finishing a book, especially one given to me as a gift.  Either way, I won’t have to worry about reading the first book in this series, or the next book if there is one. I’m just not interested.