Review: Dark Places

Wasn’t it just last week that I wrote about the Expectation Game?  And here I am, playing it.

Today I’m writing about Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places.  I’ve read both Gone Girl and  Sharp Objects.  I loved both of them.  But Dark Places just…wasn’t good enough.

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Here’s the Goodreads synopsis:

Libby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars.

Since then, she had been drifting. But when she is contacted by a group who are convinced of Ben’s innocence, Libby starts to ask questions she never dared to before. Was the voice she heard her brother’s? Ben was a misfit in their small town, but was he capable of murder? Are there secrets to uncover at the family farm or is Libby deluding herself because she wants her brother back?

She begins to realise that everyone in her family had something to hide that day… especially Ben. Now, twenty-four years later, the truth is going to be even harder to find.

Who did massacre the Day family?

I’m giving Dark Places 3 out of five stars.

First, the good:  the subject matter here is new.  It’s a perspective and situation that I haven’t read about, and that made in interesting to me.  I also liked the rich characterization of who Libby is as a person: selfish, unapologetic, and lazy.  Her growth throughout the book is infinitesimal.  All of the characters in Dark Places are carefully crafted.

Otherwise, all I can do is shrug at this book.

Usually, the redeeming factor of a so-so book is the quality of the writing, but because of the multitude of narrators, too much was given away too quickly.  Gillian Flynn is well-known for both her despicable characters and plot twists.  I didn’t get either of those here.  There was little-to-no mystery, and the writing itself wasn’t especially compelling.

You’re probably wondering why I’m still giving this three stars.  Why not two?  Or one?  Even though it absolutely doesn’t hold up to her other two novels, Dark Places is still a great mystery read.  If you’re into mysteries and you haven’t read Gone Girl or Sharp Objects, I highly recommend reading this first.  Then, you can be more objective than I am, and you won’t play the Expectation Game.  If you do, let me know what you think!

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9 thoughts on “Review: Dark Places

  1. It’s funny, I heard somewhere that with Dark Places and Sharp Objects people generally loved one and hated the other. For me, I though Sharp Objects left a lot to be desired and I probably won’t read it again; it spent 200-odd pages building up only to reveal everything over about 5 pages, and I couldn’t find any of the characters likeable or feel any sympathy towards them. On the other hand I though Dark Places was much more engaging and I loved reading it! I think I even prefer it to Gone Girl, both of which have movie adaptations coming out soon, so I hear. I love how people can feel so differently about books.

    • Absolutely! I think it all comes down to what kind of narrative you like, and whether you want to relate to protagonists or not. At the end of the day, Gillian Flynn is a great writer, and this may not be my favorite book by her, but it’s still better than most of the novels out there!

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