Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Half Listened, Half Read: "Dark Places" by Gillian Flynn

Half Listened, Half Read: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, 2009, 9780307341563.

I downloaded this from Overdrive and was really enjoying the novel. Then my dang MP3 player had the audio input work loose and the sound would cut in and out. So, I checked out the book instead.

Libby is the last surviving member of her immediate family. Excluding her imprisoned older brother who murdered Libby's mother and two older sisters 24 years ago. Libby is a freaking mess. She is getting through life but never thinks about the night of the murder, is completely alienated from her aunt, is a kleptomaniac, tends to find places to hide her 4'11'' frame as she did the night of the murders.

Libby has been living off a trust fund started when she was orphaned but is now almost all out of cash. She gets an offer to appear at a true crime convention for $500 and takes the offer. Libby starts to wonder if maybe her brother is innocent. Told through Libby, Libby's mom, and Libby's brother Ben.

Excellent book. Flynn does a great job with her characters. She never shows through thought and action how screwed up Libby is. Great character description like how true crime guy Lyle tends to point one ear at a time to someone who is talking.

Another great description is the steakhouse meeting between Libby and her trust fun administrator. One of the death club guys with a turquoise earring described as the kind of earring that D&D guys wear. The kind of guys who think magic tricks are really cool.

For the audio version:

1. The mix of prose and Libby's narrator was mesmerizing. A great match of story and reader.
2. Blatant mispronunciation of Salina.
3. Imaginary town with an imaginary prison near it. Do I care? No. But I checked the KS map and a map of KS prisons to see if she was basing the imaginary towns off of real ones. I could not tell. The fictional town seems north to northwest of Salina.
4. The female narrator made it difficult to tell when character is speaking or just having an internal monologue.

Comments1. Flynn has great set-ups and herrings making me wonder who is guilty of the murders. I always believed Ben was guilty but had accomplices. There was no other explanation convincing enough to say otherwise. Especially the fact that he was there at the time of the killings.
2. Not too happy with the ending explanation of what happened. Flynn does allude to the killer and the circumstances earlier on but it still felt a little forced.
3. Libby's drunken father is such a scumbag. He deserves to be drowned like the rat he is.
4. Flynn tells the story back and forth from 1985 to present day. You don't see the present day version of several of those characters until late in the novel. I liked reading how those people turned out.
5. I enjoyed the KS setting.
6. Great job by Flynn in showing the teenage perspective of Ben and how he thought and why he acted how he did. The same goes for the stress that Libby's mom was under as a single mom of four kids with no money and a farm defaulting on its loans.

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