28 June 2012

A well told story with many layers

I recently finished reading Luanne Rice's newest offering, Little Night: A Novel. This books takes a compelling look at the effects of spousal abuse on family dynamics. An author can go several ways with this type of a story, and I thought this one did a good job of telling a harrowing tale without making the book overly dark. Anne and Clare grew up with an overbearing father and as that often does, it brought them close together. Until Anne made the mistake that many women growing up in those circumstances do. She married a controlling and abusive man. Unlike many books on this subject, this book does not tell the tale from the perspective of the abused wife, but rather from the perspective of other affected family members and friends. It focuses its energy on the feelings and effects that the abuse has on Anne's daughter, Grit, and Anne's sister, Clare. It is through their eyes that we catch a glimpse of the widening circle of affect that such abuse has. I felt that the characters in this book were well developed and true to the roles that they portrayed. In addition, the layers created by the author's inclusion of other stories, like Clare's search for the elusive laughing owl, or Grits need to wear her story on her body, as well as the inclusion of some Norse mythology made this an altogether enjoyable read with both depth and feeling.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is a 4.5 star MUST READ for thriller fans

Upon finishing Gone Girl, the newest psychological thriller by established authorGillian Flynn, I had to ask myself, "are all of Gillian Flynn's books like this?". If they are, I can tell you now that I am going to be a huge fan. In short, I loved this book. I loved the way the author crafted the characters. I loved the way that she doled out the story, keeping you guessing about what was really going on. I loved the way that she threw out so many inconsistent details that you weren't really sure what was real, if any of it. Or who was lying to whom. Or ultimately, who were the good guys and who were the bad guys. 

One thing I really enjoy about reading thrillers is that they are like puzzles. I love trying to figure out where the author is going with a story before they reveal their twists in the plot. That said, I especially love when an author hits me over the head with a plot twist that I didn't even see coming. This book had all of the above. It started out pretty good, but normal for a psychological thriller, then just when I thought I had figured out what was going on, another detail would come out that had me doubting myself. Best of all, though, the author was able to reveal certain plot points that were total surprises to me. Things that I had not even considered, at least not seriously. Here I was, formulating all sorts of theories, which I love to do, and trying to keep track of all of the things that didn't seem to make sense and the story would hit me with an HOLY CRAP moment. At that point, I was hooked. 

I thought the characters in the book were great, also. I thought she did an exceptionally good job with Nick and Amy, making them both who they seemed, and someone else entirely. The layers to their personalities and relationship was riveting. And even the supporting characters were crafted with so many layers that they were constantly surprising me with there behavior. 

The only thing that keeps me from giving this book a flat out 5 star rating was the ultimate ending. For some reason, the ending just set me on edge. It's not that it wasn't believable, because it was. It's not that it wasn't appropriate to the story, because it certainly was. It is just that I didn't like where it ended. I can't say more than that without giving it away. 

So again, I say, I hope all of Gillian Flynn's books are this twisted, dark, and riveting. I am poised to be a major fan! A 4.5 star MUST READ for thriller lovers.