Monday, February 2, 2015

Dark Places -- finished the book **SPOILERS**

Just finished the book last night. Overall I thought it was good, and I liked the format of switching between the flashbacks and the present day. This device worked especially well towards the end to set the more frantic pace as the impending hour of doom approached. I was also taken by the fact that though none of the characters were likable, they were real and rang true to life. We have seen the detached, depressed girl with the traumatic past. The harried single mother. The weirdo teen guy. The deadbeat dad. The sociopathic rich girl. I also liked that while Libby was an emotionally stunted taker, she was able to kind of evolve on her quest to find out what happened to her family -- at first she started out with the money motivation, and by the end it was her own quest for self-actualization. This made you actually want to root for her towards the end.

Now getting into what I didn't like -- while the Angel of Debt angle was a very interesting twist, it seemed a little too "deus ex machina" for me. The more I thought about it, the more it didn't make sense. Although Patty didn't have her shit together, she still cared about her kids a lot, so it seemed odd that she would want to be killed at home with her kids there sleeping. For example, Michelle was known to be always snooping and skulking around at odd seemed like a horrible risk to take. And then for the Angel of Debt and Diondra to be killing members of the family *at the same time* was a little much for me as well. Also, the idea of Ben standing by idly while Diondra killed Michelle really bugged me. I know the book kept saying Ben "hated" Michelle, but to me it came off as more of a typical brother-sister annoyance thing, not such a deep hatred where he would stand by as his own flesh and blood was murdered. Or maybe it was not even that, but that the scene was playing more to the general idea of how deep Ben's impotence really ran, even in a moment of crisis -- just standing by and letting other people make the decisions.

Another thing that bothered me was that Ben was still covering for Diondra even after everything. I appreciated the portrayal of their relationship when they were teenagers and could easily imagine the emotionally abusive relationship between them being true to life. It was believable to me that a lame teenager like Ben would grovel at a cruel, manipulative sociopath's feet in exchange for some small crumbs of inclusion that she threw at him. However, I would think that after 20+ years in the slammer, he might have matured a little into realizing what a horrible person Diondra was. I get that there's the argument of their child, but I think I'd rather my child be raised in foster care than a crazy manipulative killer. Interested to see others' thoughts on this.

Despite these little incongruous moments, I generally found the book very engrossing, and am looking forward to reading Flynn's other works. She did a good job of scene-setting, combining the decay of the heartland with her troubled characters, and I'm interested to see the format of her other books and compare against this one.

So apparently they are making a movie that comes out this year based on the book. Charlize Theron will play Libby, which I think is a terrible miscasting. As much as I love Charlize and thinks she does troubled characters well, she is too old and too statuesque to play a small (I think the book said under 5') stunted 31 year old. I think Rooney Mara would have been a way better choice, personally--but I guess she doesn't have the same draw that Charlize does, obviously.

Looking forward to all your thoughts on the book!



  1. I'm convinced you thought of Rooney Mara because you also, subconsciously, thought of "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" like Antara and I did!

  2. So apparently my comments don't show up. I've written all sorts of stuff, and it's not there :-(

    1. I can see this comment and the one you just posted to Ferah's question on your blog entry.