As I make my way through the Gillian Flynn catalogue, I can concede this piece is not nearly as disturbing as her first foray, Sharp Objects. Although immeasurably dark, this one doesn’t leave you with a sickening feeling in the pit of your stomach.
Libby Day, the disturbed semi-adult leading lady fumbles along through her life. With no job or sense of purpose, she lives off of a fund compiled by charitable donations after three members of her family were murdered when she was seven years old. Her remaining brother in prison, after her testimony helped convict him, and her deadbeat dad living in the wind.
When Libby’s financial advisor breaks the news that the fund is running dry and she should probably get her ass in gear, she concludes that she can’t and has no interest in holding down a nine to five. An opportunity to make some money comes her way, and she is introduced to the Kill Club. A group of nerds obsessed with particular murder cases who offer Libby some money to be a guest speaker. After meeting the group of crime solving enthusiasts, she begins to open her “Darkplace”, where the memories of the night of the murders have been hidden, and they aren’t quite what she thought she knew.
Libby’s character is heroically flawed and disturbed, much like that of Flynn’s protagonist in Sharp Objects. Both had to deal with death at a very young age, and it forever warped them into deeply depressed, unmotivated, survivors. These are not the kind of people who flourish and thrive after a life changing event. It is forever etched in their consciousness, tainting everything in their miserable lives. My mothering instinct makes me want to hold them and protect them, knowing full well that they will lash out and more than likely set fire to something in defiance, to exert some kind of control over a world that so wholly shits on their existence.
To say that this is more enjoyable than Sharp Objects is only to admit that my psyche was damaged by it. Flynn is a gifted writer and certainly has an imagination that I cannot fathom. What would a conversation over coffee be like? Does she ponder the grotesqueness that fills her pages in her everyday life? Or is she all unicorns and rainbows until she sits down to write? Guess I should’ve gotten in on that goodreads live chat…
Regardless, Flynn’s work, while dark and twisted, is vivid and memorable. She makes it very easy to get lost in her story, while you travel on the winding road with her and her fucked up characters. But make no mistake, these are things you cannot unsee, even though they’re only in your head. It’s like a book version of American History X, only worse because you have to imagine the details, they aren’t spoon fed to you. But that’s what makes her such a good author, and my damaged little mindhole will keep coming back for more.