by Gillian Flynn

Reviewer Rating:


I read all three of Gillian Flynn's novels this summer. I, for one, didn't like Gone Girl, but I had to check out her other novels to see if she was worth the hype. I completed my journey with Dark Places, which tells the story of Libby Day, who at age seven put her teenage brother, Ben, in jail for killing their mother and two other sisters. Twenty-five tumultuous years later, Libby stumbles onto a community of murder hobbyists dedicated to her brother's innocence. Libby starts an investigation of her own, winding her way through her family's past to find the truth. Alongside Libby's first-person narration are the third-person perspectives of her mother and brother on the day leading up to the murder.

I'm not a big mystery/suspense reader, but I found this novel lacking in the plot department. The events told in the flashbacks to 1985 seem too full (so much drama for a single day!) and also too dependent on coincidences. Flynn attempts what seems like a social critique of the Satanic Panic of the 1980s, but doesn't fully engage with this critique. My biggest issue with this novel was that all of the characters felt like sketches to me. Flynn has stated that she wants to write about violent women as a way of subverting the media's tendency to ignore women's dark sides. But in Dark Places, Libby is all violence and no substance. As I read through, I pictured her wearing a pageant-style sash that reads "DAMAGED PROTAGONIST." The degree to which Flynn beats the reader over the head with Libby's depression, rage, kleptomania, and hollowness makes Libby get real old real fast. I have the same complaints about all of her novels. Interesting ideas: tepid executions (at best).

Check it out:


Post new comment