Going to the Dark Side

I got a chance to read Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places on Kindle. I had seen the novel on a few lists on amazon and the synopsis seemed interesting enough.

It’s a novel about Libby Day, a thirty-something woman who as a young girl, was the sole survivor in the slayings of her mother and two sisters. Her testimony convicted her older brother, Ben, of the murders. But now, almost twenty years later, Libby is running low on money from the anonymous donations, and she finds herself earning money through a club fascinated with the murders of her family.

I enjoy how mean the main character is. Is that a bad thing to say? I get it. And I see how she has similar traits to her father, a lowly drunk who is always owing other people money and never able to take responsibility for his actions.

Libby has reasons to be mean, to be angry. But when her financial situation falls though, she begrudgingly has to start connecting to other people, to find a way to keep financially afloat before her last resort–getting a job.

The novel switches from Libby’s story in the present day to Ben or Patty’s (the mother) stories from the day before the murders. This is a challenging way to write the novel, but it’s effective. I never felt jolted when starting the next chapter.

I really enjoyed the first half of the novel and the development of Libby and her family. Libby has a strong voice as the narrator for her chapters and it’s biting. I enjoyed the nuances into her psyche such as her obsessive inclination to steal things because pens, pencils and paperclips are everywhere, therefore one should never buy them.

In the second half of the novel, things pick up pace and it felt like the story was turning into a murder mystery. I didn’t enjoy that as much, but the discovery at the end will be a surprise to most readers.

There’s a common thread of the main character (and the other characters in the Day family) having moments where everyone is ganging up on them, like it’s a Salem witch trial. It got a little overwhelming, and I think that’s because it happened to different Day family members in different situations. To me, it felt a little unreal, but that’s just my opinion.

All in all, this was definitely an enjoyable book!