Saturday, July 14, 2012

Dark Places - Review

Title: Dark Places
Author: Gillian Flynn
Source: Library

Goodreads Summary:

I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ.

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” As her family lay dying, little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived–and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben sits in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who’ve long forgotten her. 

The Kill Club is a macabre secret society obsessed with notorious crimes. When they locate Libby and pump her for details–proof they hope may free Ben–Libby hatches a plan to profit off her tragic history. For a fee, she’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club . . . and maybe she’ll admit her testimony wasn’t so solid after all.

As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the narrative flashes back to January 2, 1985. The events of that day are relayed through the eyes of Libby’s doomed family members–including Ben, a loner whose rage over his shiftless father and their failing farm have driven him into a disturbing friendship with the new girl in town. Piece by piece, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started–on the run from a killer.

My thoughts:

This book is really dark and twisted, as you might imagine from the title.  But what can you expect from an author who wants to write this way, and as she says on her website, "Libraries are filled with stories on generations of brutal men, trapped in a cycle of aggression. I wanted to write about the violence of women."  When I read that, I knew I wanted to read all her books. It is just such a different viewpoint, and it really is fascinating.  Sometimes we forget what our own gender is capable of, almost sexist in a way, I hate to say.  Flynn's books are so rich in character and description, that she reminds you of this.  

I loved this book, and I loved that the main character Libby, as all the female protagonists in her books, is kind of unlikable.  She is pretty pathetic at first. living off the story of her tragedy, giving it life rather than moving on.  When she meets the Kill Club, she views it as a source to earn money, rather than working a real job.  She has always been secure in her role as the only survivor of her family massacre, steady and confident in her testimony that put her brother in prison.  As the story progresses, what she is looking for begins to change, as does her confidence.  

The book is written from multiple viewpoints, including Libby's mother's and her brother's.  I felt so sorry for her mom, I could really empathize with her, as a struggling mother. One particular scene stood out to me, where the mom is imagining what people must think of her children, in their ill-fitting hand me down clothes.  And then Ben...I don't know what to say. I don't want to say much more on this book, although I really want to.  I just don't want to ruin anything for the next reader.  I just highly recommend this book to anyone who likes this kind of gritty look at life. Like me. 

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