Book Review: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Dark Places - Gillian Flynn

The Basics

Libby Day’s mother and two sisters were murdered when she was seven years old. When asked who did it, she said without hesitation that it was her brother, Ben. Now upon being contacted by a club of murder case enthusiasts, she’s wondering if she was right. She sets out on a mission to, well, make some money but also hopefully to find some answers.

My Thoughts

Gillian Flynn strikes again. On the heels of Gone Girl, I found myself obsessed with obtaining and blasting through her other, two books. I tackled this one first, and it’s proven to be my favorite of her work thus far. Deeply written, fully realized characters at the center of a crazy, incredible, gory mystery. It really is all I could’ve hoped for in a thriller and more. Calling it a thriller feels small, because it’s of such a quality that you so rarely see in the genre.

Libby is one of the most engaging and fascinating heroines I’ve ever read. She’s flawed and unique. She’s snarky and cold, yet not distant to us as an audience. She’s damaged and relatable. The thing that had me from the very first page was Libby. I wanted to follow her, and I wanted to hear her voice. Flynn cackles in the face of this idea of “likeable” characters. She writes intensely interesting characters with real world problems, and I welcome that a lot sooner than a female lead who is picture perfect.

Along with Libby’s journey to find the truth, we get point-of-view chapters from her mother and brother the day of the murders. We get a firsthand view of the desperation her mother faced, the depression and peer pressure piling atop fifteen-year-old Ben, and the circumstances that led to such catastrophe. I will say that while I found Patty to be a tragic figure, I wasn’t as keen on Ben. Yet here’s the rub: I’m not sure we were supposed to be. Regardless of the outcome, Ben is still a person with an illness, and Flynn simply presents that without trying to create an anti-hero of him, as she does with Patty and Libby as well. It’s less about Flynn’s opinions and more about your own mileage.

I’ve heard some people didn’t buy the ending, but I actually loved how much she caught me off guard with it. I could never have seen that coming. The clues were there, and yet I wouldn’t have jumped to that conclusion. I appreciate it wasn’t entirely out of left field, but it was still shocking. That’s a precarious balance, and she does it well.

What am I saying? She did everything in this book well. The entire experience was amazing, and I simply can’t get enough of her work.

Final Rating