Sunday, October 13, 2013
Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Published August 2013 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: bought this one for my NOOK
On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova—a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than thirty years.
For McGrath, another death connected to this seemingly cursed family dynasty seems more than just a coincidence. Though much has been written about Cordova’s dark and unsettling films, very little is known about the man himself. Driven by revenge, curiosity, and a need for the truth, McGrath, with the aid of two strangers, is drawn deeper and deeper into Cordova’s eerie, hypnotic world.The last time he got close to exposing the director, McGrath lost his marriage and his career. This time he might lose even more.
Like Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, the last book I read that messed with readers this much, Night Film requires its readers to be able to suspend disbelief. It also requires its readers to overlook a lack of character development, tolerate an often choppy flow and forgive Pessl the overuse of italics. All of that and I still could not put the book down. And when I did, I had to sit for a while trying to figure out what had just happened.
It's best not to dwell too long afterwards on some points, lest your enjoyment of the book be altered. Had I written my review right after I finished, this would have been an entirely different review. The longer I thought about the book, the more I focused on the problems I had with it. Pessl leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Some are the good kind, the kind that make readers think. Others felt more like oversights or things Pessl just couldn't be bothered to explain. My biggest problem, even as I was reading, were Cordova's films. This brilliant director made films that couldn't be released by studios because they were so dark but when Pessl begins discussing the films, I was unclear as to what made them so much more terrible than other films of their ilk.
Pessl's addition of pieces that appear to be actual magazine pieces and internet sites may bother some readers but I felt contributed to pulling the reader into feeling the story was real. On the NOOK, however, these pieces were not full-paged and these old eyes often had trouble reading them.
Yet, in the moment, as I was reading, I was utterly caught up in the story. Pessl keeps readers guessing throughout the book. Is black magic at involved? Is McGrath being played by Cordova? What is the real connection between Hopper, a young man McGrath discovered at the site where Ashley died, and Ashley? Was Ashley mentally unstable or were there family secrets she was running from? I love a book that keeps me guessing which is probably why, despite the flaws of this book, I enjoyed it a lot. Pessl pulled me in early and kept me involved throughout.