Next-in-Reading

Next-in-Reading #8: Dark Places

Next In ReadingTitle: Dark Places
Author: Gillian Flynn
Year: 2009
Publisher: Crown Publishing

“I had a gust of panic: I can’t live with this, Ben in jail, this open-ended guilt. I needed it finished. I needed to know. Me, me. I was still predictably selfish.”

My journey through Gillian Flynn's books continues...
My journey through Gillian Flynn’s books continues…

Living on sympathy donations and royalties from playing up the tragedy that happened to her when she was seven, Libby Day, now 31, has to get money to support herself. Finding herself involved in the Kill Club, a fanatic group obsessed with her family’s slaughter (a case she closed by accusing her brother, Ben, of committing), she launches herself into an investigation to re-examine her accusation those years back. If matters are not complicated enough, she ends up back in the same wardrobe she hid in during her family’s murder – on the run from another killer.

Character(s)

I decided to not focus on the protagonist for a change and go with a more layered character instead.

Ben Day, Misunderstood Protector

Portrayed as a dark and dangerous, Devil-worshipping teenager, Ben was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of his mother and two sisters. Mostly mentioned as a name at the start of the book, his character reveals itself the moment he steps out of obscurity and faces the world through the visitors’ window.

At age 15, it can be said that he was always looking for approval. When he did not get it, he used his “friends” and metal music as a form of escape. His father’s constant taunts and psychological abuse added to the mix, rendering him timid. Ben’s supposed cowardice is further shown when he lets Trey Teepano and Diondra, his girlfriend, push him around, following them to devil rituals, and even he did not stop Diondra from hurting his own sister, Michelle.

But as he healed, Ben revealed a factor that has been going on in the underbelly of his appearance – his want for a more innocent love. This can be seen in his conversation with Libby in both the flashback accounts and when she visits him in jail. While he was hardly fond of his sisters, the exception was Libby, who could actually get an inkling of a smile from his usually dreary expressions.

And despite letting Diondra push him around with Michelle, he still lets Libby go. It can also be seen towards the end of the book, when he gets a new lease of life and all he wants to do is to be the father to his daughter like his father was not to him.

Theme(s)

Familial love…

The flashbacks served to tell readers about the Day family before their slaughter. However, it also revealed Patty Day’s love for both her parents and her children. Financial problems and money-sucking ex-husband aside, she worked hard and continued to do so for her children.

The farm was kept out of love and honour to her parents, with Patty refusing to sell it even though it failed miserably paying off her ex-husband’s gambling and drinking debts.

Her final act of sacrifice was also done so that her kids could live a better life than she did. Though it did not go according to plan, the intention was made clear at the end of the novel.

Sibling love…

As said above, it is shown through Ben’s forgiveness of Libby even though she put him in jail and did not visit for a long time after. It’s also shown through the fact that he had let Libby escape and told her to stay hidden despite being terrified of Diondra.

Drawing the personal moral line…

Libby, living off donations from her tragic past, ends up unfit for societally-approved work (or she dreads it, at least). In the end, she gathers family paraphernalia and sells them for a price, getting fanatics to pay her to do investigations and interviews. This looks at how far people might go to profit.

On the other side of the fence, Kill Club members appear less interested in freeing Ben Day than they are either putting Libby down or proving their theories right – how far are we willing to go to opine about something we are not directly involved in?

Style & Structure

Flynn has different perspectives told through different main characters at different times, switching them back and forth to give a picture from all sides in the past, possibly to show the events playing through Libby’s head as she goes through her investigations. Each account is done parallel to the present investigation, giving the reader some sort of hint of what is to be revealed in Libby’s investigations.

To find out more about Gillian Flynn, click here. To find out more about Dark Places, click here.

In the meantime…

A sneak peek at something I obtained in Adelaide...
A sneak peek at something I obtained in Adelaide…

Good news for those reading this entry! NoQStore Asia has graciously offered anyone reading this post a 15% discount on all your purchases made at the NoQ Store. All you need to do is to key in JOELYN15 during your check out.

(Please note that the promotion is only applicable store-wide on all products on NoQStore Asia and cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotions or vouchers.)

And I’ll see you all next week!Blanket Fortress Logo

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2 thoughts on “Next-in-Reading #8: Dark Places

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