Dark Places by Gillian Flynn: Book Review

Dark_Places_coverOkay, so sue me. I am guilty of picking up the book (or in this case, ebook) upon learning there was going to be a movie, but I can’t say that I regret the decision. If anything, it only got be more excited to see the film adaptation of this Gillian Flynn crime thriller.

SYNOPSIS: 24 years after the gruesome murders of her mother and two sisters, Libby Day, the sole survivor of the crime, is confronted by a group called the Kill Club about the possibility that her big brother Ben, may not be the guilty party. Broke and desperate, Libby charges the group to interview “key people” in the murder to help them uncover the real culprit and solve the mystery behind the Satan Sacrifice of Kinakee, Texas.

Gillian Flynn is a great storyteller. From the first page up to the last, she uses a commanding voice that calls on the readers to pay attention lest they miss anything. I liked that the material had a lot of secrets and it got readers excited to find out what happens next. Interweaving events that happened during that fateful day in 1985 with present day, Flynn delivers the events and uncovers the mystery from various perspectives.

She depicts the desperation of Patty Day’s character, the rebelliousness of a teenage Ben Day, the uncertainty of Libby Day and the bitterness of Runner Day’s characters so clearly that readers feel connected to them and develop an understanding for their actions. Even the secondary characters helped build up their affinity with the main cast. An example would be Magda or Krissi Cates’ mother, the Kill Club members, and the townsfolk of Kinakee — their lack of sensitivity and their mob mentality pushes the readers closer to the Days, imperfect as they are.  As such, readers become compelled to formulate their own hypotheses about the murders, getting them invested in the outcome because they want true justice to be served.

I liked that there’s always something to look forward to and each chapter contributes to the suspense as Libby and Lyle get closer and closer to the truth. This is not to say that its not frustrating when despite new evidence and new leads coming to light, suspect after suspect get dismissed from the crime. Its kind of brilliant how Flynn manages, time and again, to pull the rug from under the readers’ feet, prodding them to review the evidence as if they were detectives in an actual crime. This is still happening in page 300, only thirty pages shy of the conclusion.

All in all, Dark Places was a very worthy read. It was graphic but really not as dark as I expected it to be (I was expecting the worst) but it was evenly paced with a lot of interesting characters with a lot of strong presence. Its kind of sad to see how one event can set of a chain of misfortune in the life of others that can never be taken back. Its tragic and its bittersweet and examines how tragedy, desperation and failure corrupts a person. On the flipside, its also about guilt and redemption, and at the end of the day, family, and how far one would go for that connection. It would be interesting how the movie fares because the book kicked ass.