Book Banter: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Title: Dark Placesdark-places
Author: Gillian Flynn
Genre: Thriller
Length: 254 pages
Where Stacie’s Copy Came From:  Oshkosh Public Library
Plot Basics: Seven year old Libby Day was an eye witness to the murder of her family. Her fifteen year old brother, Benjamin Day, was convicted of the killings and has spent is life in jail. Libby may have her freedom, but the truth of her family’s death prevents Libby from truly living.

Banter Points: Wow. I really enjoyed Gone Girl and wasn’t entirely sure what to expect with Dark Places other than it was by the same author. In this case, it was a good thing.’

The use of multiple points of view to tell the story was used here, as it was in Gone Girl. The combination of voices allowed me to connect with several of the characters and understand the horribly difficult choices facing them. By the end of the story, I really disliked one character, and sympathized with many others, especially those in the Day family.

One of the things that I’ve learned over the years reading thrillers, is not to project the characters onto the author. Usually, they are exploring some area of “What If” that may or may not be triggered by their own lives. I usually don’t even consider the inner workings of an author, however, Flynn breaks that rule for me. I really identified with several of the struggles facing Libby, her mother, her brother, that I often found myself wondering if Flynn has witnessed first hand the abusive and dysfuntional side of alcoholic families.

I had forgotten about the Satanism scares that ran through my own Midwestern town and upbringing until reading about Ben’s foray’s into that part of life. I remember being scared of it as a kid, and now as an adult, I wonder what people really were thinking at that time. When those parts of the novel started, I sort of scoffed and brushed the thinking off. But Flynn drew me in, just as Ben was drawn into the possibility.

Bummer Points: Not a bummer so much, but there are lots of strong images and words in this book. Definitely not for the faint of heart.

I also found myself putting this book down, frequently, and waiting for long chunks of time to pass before picking it up again. The topic was intense, and I needed the break. It didn’t ruin the story by any means, but it was a really slow read for me.

Stacie’s Recommendation: The dark side of the Midwest is showcased well here. Flynn nails the tone, setting, and struggles, while casting a horrific beginning and end.


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