I recently finished reading Gillian Flynn’s novel, Dark Places. Having read and enjoyed Gone Girl a few years ago, I really wanted to read another novel by Flynn. The novel focuses on Libby Day, a woman in her 30s, who is essentially orphaned when she is 7 after the gruesome murders of her mother and sisters. Her older brother has been in prison for over 20 years supposedly guilty of the murders, but the question is whether he is truly guilty or not. As Libby thinks back to that fateful night, she begins investigating what happened to her family.
The beginning of this novel, actually the first 100-150 pages, were a little slow in my opinion. I had a hard time getting into the story and actually abandoned it for days at a time. But somewhere after the first 150 pages, the story began to pick up and I found myself really wanting to see what was going to happen and discover what truly happened that night.
As with Gone Girl, I find that there are no sympathetic characters in the novel. There’s no one I was rooting for or felt bad for. Even Libby, who you would think you would feel bad for since pretty much her whole family was killed when she was just a little girl, is not very likeable. Libby as an adult has no qualities that make her a likeable character or that would make me root for her in hopes that she’ll turn into a hero and uncover the answers to the mystery of her family’s tragedy. Yes, I wanted to know what exactly happened to her family, but I didn’t really care who found the answers.
One thing that was both good and bad about the novel was that there were multiple viewpoints throughout the novel – three to be exact: Libby, Ben (her brother), and Patty (their mother). Each chapter is told in one of these characters’ points of view with Ben and Patty’s chapters basically tracing their steps of that day. I liked reading the different points of view because it allowed a lot more background information and gave insight into the details of that day that Libby would have no idea about or memory of as a 7 year old. What I thought was a downfall of this style though is that Libby’s chapters are told in first person and Ben and Patty’s are in third person, so there is somewhat a lack of consistency.
Overall, the book was enjoyable and kept me guessing/predicting what happened on the night in question. It is a slow beginning, but if you keep going, you’ll get into it. Even by the end of the novel, I still didn’t particularly have a fondness for any of the characters – though Libby did eventually get less on my nerves.
Have you ever read Dark Places? What were your thoughts?