Monthly Archives: November 2013

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Dark Places

20131205-143251.jpgAfter my incident with Sharp Objects earlier this week, I very carefully checked the title of Gillian Flynn’s last novel.
Dark Places didn’t seem to present too many issues, so I ploughed on.

Libby Day, survivor of the Day massacre 24 years ago, is a 37 year old woman still trying to deal with the scars left by the brutal murder of her mother and two sisters, for which her brother has spent the last 24 years in jail.
Realising that she’s fresh out of money, she accepts an offer to appear at a ‘Kill Club’ convention, where all sorts of disturbing questions are raised about the murders and whether or not her brother was actually responsible for them.

Dark Places is told in alternating chapters, with Libby narrating the odd numbers, and her brother Ben and mother narrating the even chapters. The story of the day of the murders unfolds for the reader as Libby learns more about what happened on that awful night, and begins to come to terms with what happened.

I really enjoyed Dark Places. I thought it was better than Sharp Objects, but not as good as Gone Girl, which means that, as far as I’m concerned, Flynn is only improving, so I look forward to her fourth novel with anticipation.
While the alternating narratives might be a little jarring to some, it’s a style which works well for me, and clearly for Flynn, as she kept it up in Gone Girl.

I ripped through this book in a matter of days, and didn’t have any of the horrendous struggles I did with Sharp Objects. Probably because it didn’t deal with self harm I enjoyed it much more.
It was dark, and unpredictable at times, and presented a host of mostly unlikeable characters, including Libby herself. There were one or two twists I didn’t quite predict, which is always a nice sensation, and overall I really enjoyed this book.

FOUR STARS
****

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Sharp Objects

After I enjoyed Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl so much, I figured I should read her two earlier novels. I downloaded them both at the same time, and didn’t really pay much attention to the titles, but rather just went into one of them on the kindle when I was bored a few days ago.
As it turned out, Sharp Objects was the first of the two books that I decided to read.

My opinion of this book is terribly, terribly skewed by the fact that I didn’t engage my brain when I started reading.
As I’ve said, it was a random choice between Sharp Objects and Dark Places which I read first, and the title didn’t really factor into it – it was just whichever was higher up on the list.

This meant that I was a good four or five chapters into the book before I even realised that with a title like Sharp Objects, it’s pretty likely that there’s going to be some mention of self-harm in the book.

I started reading this book right before I went to bed, and got to the first mention of self-harm at about 2am. I was alone, and it was incredibly vivid and real, and evoked a lot of feelings which I had thought were buried very deeply inside me. It’s been nearly four years since I stopped cutting myself, but this book was so realistic and so visceral that it absolutely freaked me out.

I should have known, from the title, that this was likely to happen. If I had engaged my brain in any way, I would have known, and I would have been more prepared and more able to deal with that particular scene. The subsequent mentions, because I was expecting them, weren’t half as effective.

I know that it was my own stupid fault that this didn’t occur to me and that I freaked myself out, but I cannot help myself from letting it colour my opinion of the book. I went in blind, which I shouldn’t have done, and as a result, I found the book more disturbing than fascinating, which is very unlike how I found Gone Girl.

I also predicted who the killer was, which always makes me a bit disappointed. I know some people take great pleasure in it, but I like a punch in the gut at the end of a book, surprising me entirely.

I think Flynn improved as she went along – Sharp Objects is good, but not great, and her second book, Dark Places, is an improvement on it. Gone Girl, as I have mentioned, gripped me entirely.

So Sharp Objects, for me, gets two stars. I freaked myself out entirely by reading it unprepared in the middle of the night. That was dumb. Don’t do that.
**

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