BabyMac Book Club: Dark Places {The Discussion}

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I may have been up late reading, but I did it, I finished the second book for BabyMac Book Club. And I don’t know about you guys, but I found this a STRUGGLE. I initially pumped through most of it when we were away in Queensland last month, and then I came home and life got in the way of the reading, but I managed to get sucked sufficiently back in to get across the line. Phew.

*spolier alert: I talk about whodunnit and ALL OF THE THINGS so if you haven’t read it, stop here *

The summary

The book is based around the story of Libby Day who was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” Libby managed to escape the murder scene into the freezing snow where she lost some fingers and toes, but she survived and testifies that her 15 year old brother Ben killed them all. 25 years later her brother sits in prison and Libby now having spent the entire amount of trust fund donations from people discovers a macabre secret society called The Kill Club who are happy to give her money to share memories or mementos from her life. The Kill Club is filled with a strange group of people obsessed with the Day murders who are convinced that Ben was innocent and by paying her she starts to reconnect with the people from the night and starts to really look at what happened on that night in 1985. Piece by piece the truth emerges until she finds herself again on the run from a killer.

The story is dark, depressing, gruesome and for me at times, quite scary to read.

The characters

There are a number of characters who all make up the story of Dark Places. There are the members of the Day family: Patty the Mum, Ben the 15 year old brother accused of the murders, the sisters who were murdered with their Mum: Michelle & Debby, the younger sister who survived and main character of the story, Libby. Their dead beat father Runner, and Ben’s girlfriend Diondra and Trey another bored teen obsessed with Satan.

I found each and every character unlikeable. Which makes it difficult to connect to and want to read on. I suppose the point is that they are not nice people. In a not nice situation. I found Libby complex: still so young and yet nasty, a meanness that the author brings out in the very first line of the book. Ben you wanted to like, but could never trust, Patty the Mum who you wanted to feel sorry for, and yet seemed to play a victim too. Diondra and Trey lost and awful and as for the creepy people from Kill Club…yes, I didn’t like these people at all.

What did you think of the characters?
Was the whole point that all of these people were meant to be awful?
Was there one character you trusted more than others?

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Narrative

The story moves between 3 points of view and time. Libby Day in the present as she searches for the truth. Ben Day in the lead up to the murders in 1985, and Patty Day the Mum in the lead up to the murders in 1985. The chapters were long enough to set a scene and give information, but short enough to keep the pace and momentum up. I found it quite easy to speed through the book with this style.

What did you think of the style?
Did you find it easy to churn through?
Was there one point of view you trusted more than others? (For me it was probably Patty)

Themes

There were a few themes that I thought were worth exploring in the book:

  • Growing up/not growing up – the book spent a lot of time on childhood. Libby still didn’t seem to be grown up even when she was an adult. The teenagers seemed so troubled and the parents who had grown up seemed lost and depressed.
  • Money – or lack thereof as well as the money given to Libby and spent from all the people wishing her well after the murders. Someone was always owed money, needing money.
  • Place – the farm and the scene set in Kansas in the dead of winter in the middle of a farming recession was nothing short of depressing. I could feel and see how utterly depressing this place was.
The ending

I was still confused right up until the end of the novel as to “who dunnit”. I found the twist of Diondra and Crystal a little unbelievable and annoying to be honest. The fact that Libby again was on the run from the killer, 25 years later, well, I don’t know it just left me a little annoyed. By this stage I just wanted to get the book finished and done with so I could close off the whole depressing story.

What did you think of the ending?
Were you surprised with Patty’s twist?
Did it make you connect with the characters more? Patty or Ben or Libby?

So that’s my take on the book. I can assure you that I am NOT choosing another bloody murder book – I’m done with them! I found the book interesting but not enjoyable (if that can be a thing). I like how the author challenged me with making the characters and the whole place depressing and not nice (because, hey, it’s NOT) and I was disappointed with the ending.

But what did YOU think?
There are a heap of questions for you to answer if you’re keen!

And remember tonight at 8pm AEST we will have a virtual book club discussion on my Facebook page . So head on over with your glass of wine and join in the conversation. Thanks for reading!

Comments

  1. I read the reviews and decided not to join in on this one. I was on a cruise and didn’t want to read a dark novel about murder. Seems like I made the right choice. Looking forward to the next one, though.

  2. http://katie%20clews says

    I, like yourself, didn’t enjoy this book much at all. I also found the characters very unlikeable.. It was interesting in a weird sort of way, so I ploughed on through and finished it.. I didn’t connect with any of the characters but I wanted to find out who dunnit so I persisted.. Looking forward to the newt book 🙂

  3. I have gone on a Gillian Flynn reading spree since I saw GG at the movies. I read Sharp Objects and loved it but didn’t love this one as much. I was quite disturbed. The ending seemed hurried and none of the characters were likable.
    The thing that puzzled me the list is what kind of mindset does the author have to come up with these grizzly storylines? Who is she associating with to do her research? How does she debrief from writing?

  4. Doh. I failed at this again. I suck at book club!

  5. http://jacqui says

    I read this last month and couldn’t put it down. It went in a very unusual direction. It lost it a bit a third of the way through but keep reading.

  6. I really did not enjoy this book. Agree that none of the characters were likeable, and really found it all quite depressing, particularly the ‘Ben’ chapters. I had to force myself to read it, mainly just to find out who did it. The mother setting up her own murder just didn’t seem plausible to me at all. Also, the way Libby kind of forgives Ben at the end, although he essentially let his ‘girlfriend’ murder their sister?? No way! Just so much wrong with this book, am glad to be done with it.

  7. I enjoyed reading Gone Girl so much and I was so looking forward to this book and I wanted to like it. Oh I wanted to.

    But I didn’t. I hated all the characters too and I found their actions quite weird. Things like, it wasn’t that I found the idea that Patty Day could arrange her own murder completely unbelievable but that she would choose it to be that way. I totally believed in Nick and Amy and all of their actions (even when I disliked them as people) and I just really felt these people were very 2D. And frankly I agree, it was bloody scary at times and not a good choice for a nighttime read!

    • 100% agree Alex. The only redeeming thing for me was Gillian’s writing and the sense of place she was able to evoke…which was depressing!! But I agree…I was glad when it was over and done with!

  8. http://Barb%20Fisher says

    oh no, I completely forgot about the book club discussion last night! I finished Dark Places a few weeks ago, and like others – finished it just so I could see who did it….but really didn’t enjoy it. What a depressing book about depressing people who lead such depressing lives!

  9. http://Emma says

    I seemed to feel differently to everybody else about this one. I found it really intriguing and ploughed through it to find out who did it! I was surprised by how it played out (I probably thought it was going to be Ben for most of the book). There’s no doubt some of the content was creepy and most of it was sad or depressing but rather than find the characters unlikable, I really just felt sorry for them. I found them much more likable than the characters in gone girl! Anyway, I ‘enjoyed’ it (really not sure that’s the right word, but I was certainly eager to keep reading). Looking forward to the next one!

  10. http://Alexandra says

    I loved this book until the ending and only felt the sadness and depression once I was left with the afterthought of what had actually happened that night.
    Ben is the only one I cared for. I wanted him to stick up for himself more, everything he did was for others. I was furious he protected Diondra for their child. She was by far the worst character in the book and ruined his life and I can’t get over it even though it’s a made up story.
    She took so much advantage of him I’m so happy she ended up in jail!

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