Book Review: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (5/5)

15 Sep

I’m not normally a thriller reader, but I liked Gone Girl. I wasn’t rushing to read everything Flynn has ever written but when I found out that Dark Places was being turned into a movie and it was timing up with my audiobook hold coming in, I knew God was smiling on me to have everything fall into place. So perfectly.

Cover Image via

Cover Image via

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Summary from Goodreads:

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice” of Kinnakee, Kansas.” She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.

I was prepared to have every character like I did in Gone Girl. I thought none of them would be redeemable and they would all end up being terrible people and I’m so happy that I was wrong! Libby is hard to like at first, but she grows on you. Lyle is likable all the way through which was refreshing. I loved the alternating points of view and the time jumps, which helped reveal just enough to keep me up late finding out what happened next.  And like in Gone Girl, there are twists all the way through and they’re wonderful. I’m going to try to keep this as spoiler free as possible, and I’ll warn you when I’m going to spill some major plot points!

I can’t imagine growing up in Libby’s shoes, but I don’t think it would be a walk in the park, a ‘brand new Day’ for me. It would be hard and I think it would give me some of the quirks that Libby had. She seemed very real to me. She had been under an illusion she was coaxed into for so long that she believed it and had trouble finding a new truth. I bought it. I loved figuring out the clues with her. I loved being as shocked as she was. The character I identified with the least was Patty, but I think that’s only because I’m not a mother. I couldn’t understand why she did what she did after Ben was accused.

Runner entertained me the most. I won’t say he was my favorite but by far the most interesting. He’s so manipulative and cunning that no one knew what to think of him. He was talked about the whole book but only showed up in the plot once or twice. I liked that he was the person everyone wanted to blame but in the end, he was blameless (is that a spoiler? I don’t think so, I never thought he was guilty).

The characters were hard to relate to because of their unique story. I most related to Lyle because of his strong passion for something taboo. Maybe my strong love for books, Titanic history, and turtles isn’t taboo like murder investigation, but it’s still uncommon. I respected his passion and how far he was willing to go to do something he believed in. Some people said I was crazy to stand outside for 4 hours in the rain to meet David Sedaris, but that’s what I’m passionate about.

Gillian Flynn Image via the author's website

Gillian Flynn
Image via the author’s website

Okay, here’s the part where I’m going to talk about the ending, so skip this paragraph if you don’t want to know. Is everyone gone now? Good. I TOTALLY called half of the ending and it made me love the book. When Lyle mentioned the group of people in the Kill Club who were ‘inventing their own serial killer,’ I was immediately suspicious. It’s the old trick, “If you mention a gun in Act one, it better go off in Act three.” I knew there was a reason Flynn put that kind of detail into the book and finding it made me so gosh darn happy!

Reading about Patty going through Ben’s accusation (the one floating around the day of the murders) was hard. It was a good twist to the book, but it also was hard to hear about her suffering through that knowing what was coming up a short while later. I don’t want to say too much so as not to spoil the book, but that was hard to read.

The audiobook I listened to had three narrators for the three narrators in the book, Rebecca Lowman, Cassandra Campbell, and Mark Deakins. I liked that there was a narrator for each narrator in the book, especially because of the gender change. I felt Lowman and Campbell sounded a bit too similar, though, and it took me a while to realize they were different speakers. They all did well, but none sticks out more than the others.

Libby learned two hard lessons. She had to learn to forgive both Ben and herself. It was easy to forgive Ben when she’d solved the crime and knew his only crime was… well, I won’t spoil it here but loving someone. Forgiving herself was harder. She’d made a mistake when she was young and impressionable and it was something she had to live with for a long time. She’d talked herself into believing the lie and coming to terms with it and the ramifications of it was her struggle. It was never too late for Libby to right her wrong though it became harder the longer she waited.

Writer’s Takeaway: Using multiple points of view can be hard. There is such a thing as too many narrating characters and three can be pushing that limit. I think Flynn handled it well and I commend her for giving us three people whose lives and actions made the biggest impact on such a complicated story. I like that we switched between Libby figuring out the mystery and Patty and Ben living through it. Flashbacks can be hard, too, but these gave us forward progress with the modern plot line.

Great characters and a great mystery. Five out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

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Related Posts:
Review- Dary Places by Gillian Flynn | Many Musings of a Bookworm
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn | As The Plot Thins


8 Responses to “Book Review: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (5/5)”

  1. Cathy746books September 15, 2015 at 12:09 PM #

    Ok, so I skipped the bit about the ending as this is in the 746 so I will have to read it at some point! Glad to hear you enjoyed it. I liked Gone Girl, but really wasn’t so keen on Sharp Objects.


    • Sam September 15, 2015 at 12:11 PM #

      Sorry to hear you didn’t like Sharp Objects. I’m tempted to read it after liking Flynn’s other two books so much. Glad I didn’t ruin anything for you! Happy reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. laurelrainsnow September 15, 2015 at 3:37 PM #

    I liked this book, but it was my least favorite from this author, with Gone Girl being No. 1 for me, followed by Sharp Objects.

    Dark Places was also made into a movie which is on DVD now. It was pretty good, actually. Thanks for sharing.


    • Sam September 15, 2015 at 3:39 PM #

      I saw the movie recently. I plan to write up a movie-to-book review in the next few days bi thought it was well done! Glad to know you liked Sharp Objects. I’m thinking of reading it soon. Happy reading!


  3. jenspenden September 15, 2015 at 3:57 PM #

    Dark Places is my favorite Gillian Flynn book. I liked Sharp Objects well enough, but Gone Girl…yeah. Too much hype led me to be severely disappointed by it. Maybe if I had read GG without being told how AMAZING! it was, I would’ve liked it better? Maybe? haha.


    • Sam September 15, 2015 at 5:21 PM #

      I’ve felt that way about a few books lately. I’m glad I hadn’t heard much about this one prior to reading it. I like going into a book blind. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Mari September 15, 2015 at 6:38 PM #

    Loved all 3 books – all had unexpected twists, and all different. You should definitely read Sharp Objects, Sam.


    • Sam September 15, 2015 at 6:50 PM #

      Thanks, Mari! Happy reading!


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