Review: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Dark Places / Gillian Flynn

I swear, Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult are becoming my book-to-film First Gentleman and First Lady.  I previously reviewed the book sources of their movies: Serena, The Silver Linings Playbook, and Warm Bodies.  Now to level the playing field with two each, here’s Dark Places.

Gillian Flynnmade waves thanks to her novel Gone Girl, which will have its own film adaptation later this year.  Everyone was raving about it so I decided to check it out.  While at Costco, I only saw this novel.  Frankly, this blurb caught my attention more than Gone Girl‘s.  And it did not disappoint.

We are introduced to Libby Day, the sole survivor of a bloody massacre almost twenty-five years ago.  Now a grown woman, the money and the sympathy she got as a seven-year-old victim is running out, she needs to find a source of income.  Having been rendered depressed, lazy, and jaded by the events that followed the tragedy, Libby is left with missing fingers and toes, no friends, no family, no skills, and no money.  In her time of need, she turns back to the one event that ruined her life: “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas,” her Darkplace.

The person who was blamed for the murders was her then 15-year-old brother, Ben. He wasn’t the most popular or well-liked. He had a bad reputation among townsfolk that frankly, he brought upon himself. Like with many convicts, there is a group who believes his innocence. They are called “The Kill Club”. A group member, Lyle (will be portrayed by Nicholas Hoult in the movie), approached Libby with a deal – spend some time with us and we will pay you for your time. Libby was the star witness at her brother’s trial and all her life, she believed all the stuff that was told to her as a young child. She never recanted or even contemplated on that; shut it out of her life.  But what if she was wrong?  After all, she was a gullible child who went through a horrifying trauma. What started out as a paid assignment for The Kill Club became a personal mission for Libby.

Some books have that ONE TWIST in the end.  Like things are happening and then BAM, the current changes and everything begins to unfold.  It is not the case with this book.  It changes POV among the Days – Libby, Ben, and their mom, Patty.  The flashbacks as told by Patty and Ben narrate the happenings on January 2, 1985, leading to the exact event of the massacre. We follow Present Day Libby on her investigation with Lyle. Events unfold steadily. The pace is one of the book’s strengths. I just could not put the book down. Yeah, I find some parts more compelling than others but there wasn’t a filler chapter anywhere.

Libby is an unbecoming hero. She’s perfectly flawed. I sympathized to her more as a grown up than a child. She let that tragedy dictate her life until she had to wake up and face reality. And when she finally had to do that, she didn’t whine and complain… much.  She soldiered on and her search for truth became her drive to move forward, not really for other people, but most importantly, for herself.

Although, I must say that the ending is reaching a bit. I mean, it can still happen in a Criminal Minds situation. Even during the reveal, I had to re-read some passages to get the full picture. It is quite intricate.  Too intricate.  Speaking of Criminal Minds, this can easily be the subject of similar shows.

The book tells a story of complete waste of life. Lives were ruined over nothing. Libby went through an empty life when she didn’t really have to.  I could only imagine her existence; those twenty-five years of just coasting, feeling sorry for herself.  Libby’s mother gave up on life. Her father had a throw-away life. In the end, the truth was uncovered but it is still a tragic tale. The cycle does not stop there.  Libby did find out what truly happened but what next? Now that The Kill Club got what they wanted, where’s Libby going to get her money now?  The author left it at that.

It’s been a while since I read a good mystery novel that is not a police procedural.  Gillian Flynn hit all the right places.  I am genuinely excited to read her other works, especially with all the film adaptation buzz.

Rating: 5/5.  Go forth and read it now.

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5 thoughts on “Review: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

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