This weekend I’m visiting with Gillian Flynn’s novel Dark Places. She hooked me with Gone Girl, which I picked up after seeing a blurb on Amazon. I find that Amazon really is a great place to find “also reads”. For example: those who’ve read Mercedes Lackey in the past also read Anne McCaffrey. If you like telepathic horses, you might like telepathic dragons. I sure did!
Dark Places sucked me in right away because the narrator is so loathsome. She despises herself and makes it very easy for you to despise her, almost to the point of pity. I won’t give you plot or spoilers, because there are plenty of people who can tell you what the book is about. I’m telling you why I like it and why I’m reading it this weekend. Flynn truly has a masterful way of varying between different narrative voices: the main narrator, Libby; her brother: Ben; her mother: Patty… filling in back story and characterization in a way that doesn’t seem trite or played out. She leaves enough out to keep you guessing and keep you reading.
Flynn’s characters are flawed in very human ways. Just like in Gone Girl (read it, you’ll thank me. I’m serious), there are things you will not like about Libby. But it’s like rubbernecking. She’s such a train wreck, you have to see what happens. Can she be redeemed? Can she find out what truly happened? I’ll let you know after I finish reading it.
I love this book even more. Libby truly redeems herself in the novel, forgiving herself for hurting family members, allowing others into her life… And she finds out what really did happen to her family over 20 years ago. I will admit that it was a little slow in some places- scenes that could’ve been left out or incorporated into others to give more back-story, but overall, it was masterful. Teasing hints from flashbacks and cliffhangers from the “present”… all kept me in suspense as the novel progressed. You can truly get a feel for the humanity of Libby living in Kansas- the middle of nowhere- but everyone still knows your name and your business. Her mother, her sisters, her brother, her aunt are all characters with whom the reader can relate. The daily struggles of a family of five, tragedy, the aftermath… powerful.