Do not go gentle into that good night

When choosing my books, I try not to read any reviews ahead of time. I read the book blurb, the author and press endorsements, maybe a short commentary in an article or book list. But I genuinely avoid reading online reviews (ie. Amazon and Goodreads) before I read the book or write my own review. Because I don’t want my opinion to be clouded by something else that I’ve read. When I chose this book, it was because there was a lot of buzz about it. I started listening to  the audio-book just before Halloween and thought it would be great to read a horror/thriller in keeping with the season. Well, one month and 24 hours of audio later, I’m over the theme, over the buzz and frankly, glad the book is over

.night-film Book # 9– Night Film, Marisha Pessl. Narrator: Jake Weber

Rating: 2- Not my fav!

Synopsis: On a foggy fall night, Scott McGrath is walking near the reservoir in New York City when he gets the odd feeling he is being followed. He hears foot steps, sees movement in the shadows, catches the flash of a red coat and follows it into the subway. Only to stair into the eyes of Ashley Cordova, the daughter of the man who ruined McGrath’s career; famed horror film director Stanislas Cordova. He is further shaken when he learns that Ashley’s body was found in an abandoned warehouse, apparently after committing suicide. McGrath, an seasoned investigative journalist, isn’t convinced that her death was a suicide and takes off on an hunt for truth to clear his name and unearth the mystery of Cordova and the methods behind his night films.

McGrath’s investigation follows Ashley’s movements across New York in her last days; leading him through a maze of strange people and dark magic. In order to dig deeper, he must interview those who have orbited Cordova in the past. He finds himself wandering through Cordova’s compound and into the set of each of his past films, blurring fantasy and reality before discovering a critical link in the stories he has been told. In order to wrap-up the investigation, McGrath has to tug at a few more stray threads and finds himself plunged into Cordova’s world one final time to receive the answers he seeks.

My Impressions: I did not care for this book. (My boyfriend tells me that is my attempt at politely saying that I hated it).  It was a very long and very detailed book. To the authors credit, she wrote an incredibly complex and interwoven story with extensive detail. However for me, it was too complex, too detailed, and impossible to keep track of all of the nuances. The writing style jumps between citations and web search results mixed with first-person narrative. I was so distracted by names, dates and sources that I could hardly focus on the details being delivered. And I really could not keep track at all of referenced characters who never actually make an appearance, some of whom exist to play a large role in revealing the mysteries of the major characters. There is so much to try to remember about Cordova, his life and his films, as told by the orbiting players, I really couldn’t not keep up, and I found I really didn’t care. I did not find the book suspenseful in the least.

I really broke my own rules by finishing a book that I didn’t like. Ultimately, it was the slowly unfolding story of Ashley that kept me going. I stuck with it out of curiosity for the ending, really. I kept waiting for the moment when all of the strange bits and pieces would form together and make sense of her behavior and her death, but I was never really given that satisfaction. Since I listened to the book, I think the narrator really played a large part in my continuing with the book. His voice was really well selected for this story; slightly haunting, a good balance of characterization and added to the audio-book experience. Had I been reading the book, I’d be asking you how it ended.

Why you should read it: If you read Special Topics in Calamity Physics, you’ll probably like Pessl’s follow up novel. I didn’t finish that one; it should have been a clue for me. Also if you like heavily detailed stories and tend to be a fan of cult horror films, you’ll probably like this book. If you tend to read the latest buzz-worthy book, jump in! But for me, I can’t say I’ll be recommending this one. And if anyone asks me, I will probably give them another title to enjoy instead.

Book #9 in the bag!

“Books pull you to other worlds … let them, and enjoy the adventure.” ― H.B. Bolton


3 thoughts on “Do not go gentle into that good night

  1. cellenbogen says:

    Will proceed with caution.

  2. I felt very much the same about Night Film. I fell into the trap of the buzz, too, and was expecting something very different from what I ended up with. So much energy was put into developing the Cordova character (which was well done) that the rest of the book fell flat.

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