Monthly Archives: May 2009


Dark Places- Gillian Flynn [Review]

Posted 31 May, 2009 by DLWhite in Reviews, Writers Read 3 Comments

Dark Places: A Novel Dark Places: A Novel by Gillian Flynn

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I think I will have to come back in a few days after thinking long and hard about this book. I read it VERY quickly, mostly today. I could NOT put it down, I needed to know what happened!

Here’s what I can say– the plot is intricately weaved and the imagery is VIVID. Flynn is… OMG. I think my new favorite author right now. Grisly and gory but nail bitingly exciting.

More later….

It’s later, and I’m still spinning from this book. There’s…so much to this novel. I can’t wait for Gillian Flynn’s new book!

We meet Libby Day immediately in the book and we’re shocked by such an unlikely protagonist. I think Flynn’s golden arrow is an unlikeable hero, because Libby is just as or more unlikable than the protagonist in Sharp Objects.

When we meet Libby, she seems to be perpetually seven years old, the age she was when her parents were murdered in a gruesome, grisly, Satanic attack, for which her brother, Ben is serving a life sentence in prison. Libby is decidedly what I like to call unfortunate looking.  She is missing fingers and toes, does not care for herself, lives in a ramshackle rental and depends on the kindness of strangers– known and unknown, because Libby will steal what you don’t give her. Libby is lazy and selfish, a thief and a liar, self absorbed, mean, and jealous–specifically when other murders usurp attention away from the Day Family tragedy. She both loves and hates the notoriety.

Libby’s got a problem already, on page three– she’s running out of money. The public had been very kind to her, setting up a trust fund for her, which she inherited when she turned 18, but now the money was gone and Little Girl Libby might be forced to grow up.

Enter Lyle Wirth, the leader, so to speak of the “Kill Club”, a group of enthusiasts who discuss and investigate odd murders such as the Day Massacre. While Libby thinks this club is odd and these people are looney, they’ll pay her to attend an upcoming convention. Libby needs money, so she goes for it.  While at the meeting, she’s confronted about her testimony against her brother Ben– how could she lie? Didn’t she realize Ben couldn’t have done it? Who did she think did it?

The idea that Ben didn’t murder her family had never crossed Libby’s mind. Why should it? She remembers pretty clearly, sort of, that it was Ben. Ben has a support group, however, that has been working to free him and now that the thought is planted Libby figures she may as well set about investigating the murder– half heartedly at first because all she really wanted was the money that the Kill Club would pay for her to talk to certain people and uncover certain things, namely memorablia from the house. Libby kept all of their mementos in a box under the stairs. Until then, she couldn’t bear to go through them.

Libby’s memories of that night are what she calls the Dark Place. She doesn’t like the dark place, but she spends quite a bit of time there, throughout the book, while she tries to uncover who actually was responsible for the crime, and why Ben is covering for it– as Libby points out, he’s never recanted or asked for a new trial or appealed the ruling. He seems content to serve his time, even if he’s innocent– WHY?

Dark Places is well written, bouncing between the POV of Libby, Ben, and her mother Patty. Ben is your typical angst ridden teenage boy with pre-pubescent sisters who annoy him. He struggles with peer pressure and being cool, and lets himself be used by Diondra, a bossy, rich girl on the good side of town, and her friend Trey, a Native American with a large chip on his shoulder and a lot of evil in his heart.  Patty is a mom who is struggling like a mom never struggled before. Despite all her efforts, she and her four children are about to lose the farm that they live on, that they’ve called home for so many years. Patty is desperate and sad and hopeless and her attempts to make the situation better is what starts the ball rolling in this disaster.  As the story rolls forward, more and more and more is revealed until the reader (or, me) finds herself overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information that has to be taken into account.

Just as in Sharp Objects, Flynn has mastered the art of the twist-out-of-nowhere. I just didn’t see the end result coming, and I LOVE that! I feel like it’s a waste of a book if I can predict what’s going to happen. Flynn writes stories that are unpredictably delicious, gripping, full of action and conflict. Each scene is important, no  characters are wasted… some of the best imagery I have read in a long time– much of it still sticks with me days later. I’m reminded of a scene that made my stomach turn when I read it, and my stomach is still turning. I’d say Flynn hit the bullseye with this book!

Again, like Sharp Objects, this is a dark, grisly story. It is not uplifting and happy go lucky. There is no moral and you won’t feel better having read it. There is no self discovery for the reader– unless you can identify with Libby, who feels that- “if you drew a picture of me, it would be a scribble with fangs.”

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View all my reviews.



Find Your Voice

I’ve had this little ditty by Fairly Odd Parents’ Chip Skylark in my head all day. It’s sung by *Nsync’s Chris Kirkpatrick and since I’m a HUGE fan, I actually have his songs from FOP on my iPod. It’s rather fun to go from Ludacris “Slap” to Chip Skylark “Find Your Voice”  to Madonna “Holiday”. I love shuffle. There is a point to my rambles about iPods and cartoon songs. Lesson #4 in my Advanced Fiction Writing Class  is about Viewpoint, Voice, And Tense. Viewpoint- or uh. Point of View, or the intentions of the narrator. Who’s telling the story and from what vantage point?  We learned about three viewpoints: (cont;d)



It’s People!

Soylent Green. And Character Sketches. It’s People. Lesson #3 is on character sketches– pyramids and notebooks and protagonist and antagonist. Creating sympathy and antipathy. Naming your characters— I hate bad character names. I just….I do. Don’t make them up. One thing that I found interesting was that our instructor advised that you ‘write who you know’, or develop your characters from people you know in your life. Dice them up and put them back together again, change names and features and characteristics. (cont’d)



Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn [Review]

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn [Review]

Sometimes my method of picking books is really calculated. And then sometimes I just see something and think, ‘hmph. I’ll read that, I guess.’ Sharp Objects was chosen via the latter method. Suffice it to say,I think I started this book sometime last week, maybe over the weekend. It’s Tuesday and I just finished it. Literally a few minutes ago… I’ve been buried in it all weekend.



Brand new day…

Here’s to hoping I get something done today! I have a couple of writing projects that need to be started or finished: 1. The Epic, it must end. Soon. I have an ending in mind, already. It’s just getting there. 2. My Fanfiction AU. I just think it’s a good story and I want to finish it. It’ll likely be my last “JC” story for the fanfiction archive. 3. My Lifetime movie inspired drama based on some Nanny storyline. I’ve never seen the movie but the premise is the usual ‘nanny falls for the dad, will do anything to have him’. This one is fandom based as well. 4. NaNoWriMo–need to start thinking about it and writing writing writing. My brain is such a fog, sometimes. I don’t have clear imagery in my head, so how can I even put it on paper, let alone convey enough meaning in a well written way that makes people want to read it? Urgh. I fear that so much of what I’ve written is crap and it will be a long time until it isn’t crap. *sigh* We don’t improve without practice, though, right? Right? Someone say yes! Off I go, to practice. I hear it makes perfect. I think that’s a crock.




Grammar Snobs R Us

I got up early to write, and saw that Jane over at Dear Author had already been busy this morning on the Twitter (or more likely last night) so I headed over to her site to see what new things lay in store for me. I do enjoy her reviews, specifically on really-bad-but-still-managed-to-get-published pieces. They give me hope. Anyhow, Jane’s latest poll is about grammar, and how good you are at it. I’ll admit I am more of a grammar snob than I should be. I love words, correctly used and phrased and spelled. I love sentences that slide off of the tongue, that are well punctuated. I love dialogue that is natural without being ‘slang-y’ or making the story sound like it came from a diary entry and not a narrative. However, I do realize that I have faults, and I have many of them. I make LOTS of mistakes. Rarely spelling, mostly typos– as in I know how to spell but my fingers don’t know how to type. I depend far too much on google spellcheck and if I don’t know how to spell something, I type it into a google search, and it pops back with ‘did you mean this, you moron?’ Personally, I feel like I rarely make grammar errors– but maybe after taking this quiz, I will pick up an AP stylebook and investigate myself and then take back my words. Anyhow, Jane posted the poll, and it went a little something like this: Are You a Grammar Goddess? Do you recognize the two grammar errors in the following two sentences: Here’s what’s on Google’s home page on May 16, 2009: Over 28,000 children drew doodles for our homepage. Vote for the one that will appear here! Anyone who has read this blog has already […]



Class #2- Plot Templates

Every story has a plot, and a  lot of stories use the same plot template. The difference is in the writer, and what template s/he chooses to use and what fresh ideas they bring to the plot of the story. Today’s lesson was on plot templates, what’s required to have a good, effective plot and a vehicle to move the emotion of your story along: setup, struggle, climax, tension, conflict, sacrifice, purpose-filled action. Whether the story is an action adventure or a love story, these elements are important.



I love to talk about myself. A meme.

do you type really fast? – Well, I can type really fast. It’s just that it won’t be readable or spelled correctly, is all. did you like high school? – Not at all. how old are you? – 35. That was a shock to me, actually. I guess I had planned to stay 34 another year– MySpace informed me that I had turned 35. favorite pen color – Blue. Or purple. what annoys you more than anything? – Pointless questions. Like, I’m at the store, and I buy something for $4.29 with a $5 bill and the clerk says ” Out of five?” I always want to answer, “No, out of  $20.” Or a call to me at 3:34 PM asking, “What are you doing?” What do you THINK I’m doing? if you woke up tomorrow morning as the opposite sex, what would you do first?  – Stare at it. Seriously. favorite show on nickelodeon Fairly Odd Parents— any epi with Chip Skylark. I love his Shiny Teeth. And Cosmo. did you watch are you afraid of the dark? – No, because I am afraid of the dark.



So I signed up for a Writing course

So I signed up for a Writing course

My friend Becky is taking it and I was jealous so I was a copycat and signed up as well. It’s not so much a writing course as well-timed material being placed on the internet for reading, with a quiz following immediately after, and an assignment that is optional. At the end of our class, we will have a required assignment, which I assume will be a full fledged piece. And so, Advanced Fiction Writing began last night, but I didn’t actually get the materials till today. Turns out I was waiting for a username and password that wasn’t going to come, so I just logged in. The first class was pretty basic, going over structure, plot, dramatic elements, and the three act structure: I guess it helped to learn what I’ve been doing without knowing what I’m really doing– to put terms and theory and method to my clinking around the keyboard, playing ‘Author’. It’s certainly awakened me to things in stories I’ve written in the past, and even if I write snippets or drabbles, where to place the story vs the plot so that it drives people crazy wanting to hear the end– or the beginning. Interesting and informative first course- of course I took the quiz right after and I got 100%! o/ My assignment for Lesson 1 is to introduce myself, a task I kind of hate. I have a hard time making myself sound interesting. *SIGH*