I was VERY excited to start this. Been putting off Gillian Flynn's novel because I still wasn't ready to read something like this. I loved Gone Girl with Amy's sharp and unforgiving mind and the twist in the middle of the plot. It was engraved into my mind as I started this; that somehow, Gillian Flynn would manage to fuck my mind with shocking revelations within Dark Places.
Somwhere along the way, it fell short. I am a 90s kid, I don't know much about 80s America. And this didn't help one bit. I could only differentiate the alternating time frames by the chapter titles. I did not feel the 80s vibe when I am in it. No references to pop culture, no 80s jargon. All it had was the 'Satanic panic' which is, I guess, still alive to this day, and therefore not really exclusive to the 80s; and (after reading the acknowledgments) the 80s farm crisis with nothing more than a repetitive variation of
“They say ‘plant fencepost to fencepost!’ and we goddam well did. Buy more land—they say— cause they ain’t making more of it! Then whoops, sorry, we gave you some bad advice. We’ll just take your farm, this place been in your family for generations, we’ll just take this, no hard feelings. You’re the jackass believed us, not really our fault.”
Sure, it was a big factor in the undoing of the Days and I was supposed to feel the family's distress in its deterioration and their loss of livelihood but Runner's an asshole too.
Libby Day's character was one I did not like. I don't know if I just read too many YAs but to me, her voice sounded like a whiny teenager. It did not feel natural that she spent a large part of her life feeling sorry for herself and then suddenly she was investigating the case 24/7. Actively searching out persons of interest and having revealing conversations with them about the case when just the other she could not be bothered to talk with anyone. Even with her banker about her dwindling money supply. The catalyst behind her pro-activity is very weak, not convincing. How did she even become friends with Lyle is a mystery.
Ben Day hit the nail on the head with
“By now he thought of Ben, fifteen-year-old Ben, almost as his son, an entirely different being, and sometimes he wanted to throttle the kid, the kid who just didn’t have it in him— he’d picture shaking Ben until his face blurred.”
The writing was the biggest factor I did not enjoy this. It was tediously detailed. I skimmed a lot of scenes and still understood it. It was meant to keep the reader guessing but I was just annoyed. And the end was a huge letdown. I was expecting a bit more..supernatural, I guess?
This is supposed to be Gillian Flynn's best novel (or was it Sharp Objects?) but it did not work for me.