by Gillian Flynn
Disturbing is the first word that comes to mind with this novel. It’s dark, much darker than Gone Girl and that one is already pretty twisted. Flynn puts the fun in dysfunctional. Whether she writing about a marriage or family relationships, they are all pretty messed up, but you also can’t look away from the train wreck that is her characters’ lives.
Camille is a Chicago reporter sent back to her small hometown in Missouri to cover the death of two young girls and the search for the serial killer behind their murders. Her mother, Adora, is a proper southern belle with a perverse view of how a mother should treat her children. Her husband is little more than a mannequin, present but never part of the action. Camille’s half-sister Amma is a 13-year-old enigma, prancing around in pigtails and then turning into a textbook mean girl the second she leaves the house.
I think it’s important to remember that you aren’t necessarily supposed to like the characters. Flynn’s writing is so compelling that it was hard for me to put the book down, but I felt myself inwardly cringing at so much of the story. The way the women treat one another, the things the women do to themselves and to their “friends” are all so sick. It’s a book that made me grateful for both my upbringing and for my friends.
The big twist is not as shocking as the author intended. It felt very straightforward to me, but it also didn’t feel like that was the point of the story. The focus was more on the interpersonal relationships and the inability of Camille to move on with her life after her childhood traumas.
BOTTOM LINE: I went back and forth on my final rating of this one. It is so dark, but the writing is also completely immersive. I didn’t like it, but I couldn’t put it down. In the end I’m glad I read it and I appreciate Flynn’s skill even more, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have a strong stomach for reading about abuse.
I read this for the R.I.P. Challenge hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings.