Book Review: Dark Places
Good Evening DIY Crime-Solvers,
This late-night edition of book reviews is brought to you by Jonny’s annoyance at himself for taking nearly two weeks to read a book.
Lol, no but seriously, things have been a little crazy in the past two weeks, so I’ve had less time to attend to things. I’m just lucky I had time to set aside to finish this tonight.
Anywho, this book review is for Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.
Fun fact, this book has been on my bookshelf for probably a year or so, and I was desperate to get books off of my physical TBR shelf that seems to glare at me everyday.
Let’s get started, shall we?
Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice” of Kinnakee, Kansas. She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.
I gave this book two and a half murder mystery solving stars.
First and foremost, it was really difficult for me to come to this rating. I absolutely loved reading Sharp Objects, and being a native of Missouri (where this book is based) made it even harder.
Dark Places is about woman named Libby Day who survived a horrific massacre in her own house back in the 80’s. For decades, she’s lived a solitary life, making a living off of those who feel pity for her and the terrible incident.
But funds are running short, dangerously so, and when Libby is approached by a man who wants to talk about her past (and compensate her for it), she unknowingly sets herself on a path that leads her back to the beginning of her troubled past.
Will Libby discover the true events that occurred that fateful night in the past, or will she just be digging up painful memories that will continue to haunt her for the rest of her life?
First, let’s start with the biggest pro I could think of. This book was interesting. I’ve been on a short kick of murder mysteries lately, and this had an interesting setup. From the beginning I wanted to know what happened back in 1985, and that propelled me through this book.
Unfortunately, that’s where the pros end. I had a lot of struggles with this book to be honest.
The biggest flaw for me was the characters. At the beginning, I couldn’t stand Libby Day. She is selfish, a terrible pet owner (HUGE pet peeve of mine), motivated by money pretty much solely through the entire book, and has very little character progression throughout the book in my opinion. I think this was definitely intentional from Flynn, but Libby has zero redeeming qualities, especially her main drive of wanting to pay her rent by investigating her family’s murder. What a piece of work, right? I ended up tolerating her, but barely.
Most of the other characters were awful as well. We have bipolar Diondra, almost as selfish as Libby but lazier and more bossy. Ben, Libby’s brother, who has no real drive to speak of and lets terrible things happen around him. And Runner, wow, talk about father figure of the year (insert obvious sarcasm).
Again, I understand that Flynn wanted to create a cast of awful characters, but the problem is that you can’t really get behind any of them, except in rare, fleeting moments.
If I had to pick actual decent characters I would say Libby’s aunt Diane, whose attendance in the book is spotty, or Libby’s mother Patty.
Either way, the characters just don’t progress at all and were flat if you asked me.
Next there’s the writing. The writing style was fine. It switched between third and first person, which I have no problem with. But the rationale explained near the end made zero sense to me given the knowledge that is shared by the MC and the reader. Also, the actual scene depicting what really happened felt sloppy. I would’ve liked that to be re-edited a bit, it was just all over the place.
For the most part, the writing technique was great, it was just the follow up later on in the book and the terrible characters that disappointed me.
But ultimately, the true problem with this book is that it didn’t really have any heart if you ask me. I wanted to see some real motivation from the characters (other than money or obligation) or maybe feel motivated myself from the events in this book, but I just wasn’t. As readers, we have to have something to cling to that we enjoy about a book, and I had trouble doing that.
All in all, I wouldn’t recommend this book. Though the premise seems really promising, the characters fall flat, and because of that it just feels uninspired. I’m definitely not giving up on Flynn as a writer, and who knows? Maybe this book is for you! All I know is that it wasn’t for me and I’ll have to be a little more judgmental when picking out future works of hers.
That’s a Wrap!
Thanks for stopping by, and happy reading!
Have you read this book before? What did you think? Do you have a book recommendation similar to this series? Feel free to share in the comments!
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Have a great day!
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I agree Libby was horrible! I couldn’t muster any sympathy for her.
Thanks for understanding! Her motive was primarily money, and given that she was lazy to start with, I just couldn’t get behind her. I can’t stand people like that in real life, so it’s not really a surprise that I didn’t like her in literary form.
The blurb was pretty misleading if you ask me.