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review 2018-07-25 02:00
Night Film
Night Film - Marisha Pessl

Sovereign. Deadly. Almost perfect.

 

This book was the creepy puzzle-box of a novel that I have been hunting for over the years. This is what I wanted out of books like House of Leaves (and ultimately didn't get). This book hits that wonderful sweet spot where you're never quite certain whether or not what is happening is rooted in the supernatural or if its just plain weirdness. The suspense kept me glued to the page - it's long, but the pacing is such that I never felt my attention waning nor the pages dragging. I remained intrigued and on-board all the way up until the ending. There were also scenes that were so bizarre and creepy that they will stick with me for years.

 

The one thing about this book I didn't love was how problematic pieces of it were in regards to race, sexuality, and gender identity. I couldn't tell if the issue was the authorial voice or the main character, who is kind of a jackass. I can let it go if the language used is a reflection on this character, because honestly I believe that he's a transphobic latent racist. However, if it's the author's viewpoint that's not something I can stomach, and I genuinely can't tell which is going on.

 

Here's the thing, with the exception of this one issue I loved the book. It's a stain on an otherwise deliciously unnerving novel that brings the elements of a ghost story, and a haunted house yarn, into a more literary realm. If you can look past the warts this book is a mesmerizing, compelling, creep-fest that will keep you reading past your bedtime and jumping at shadows.

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text 2018-04-15 18:05
DNF: Night Film, by Marisha Pessl
Night Film - Marisha Pessl

I've recently made a new rule for myself to avoid purchasing or attempting to read a book by a new (to me) author if I've already purchased but not read another work by the same author. Pessl has a new book coming out this year, but I own both Special Topics in Calamity Physics and Night Film and had not read either. I decided to read Night Film first, as I remembered being intrigued by its synopsis and the first several pages I read.

 

I understood it to be literary fiction, but 50 pages in, it felt more like typical genre fiction--not that I never read genre fiction--specifically, noir, which I typically dislike. The protagonist felt like a cross between Sam Spade and Mikael Blomqvist: a disgraced journalist who gets caught up in a mystery involving a reclusive film director. I think I need to stop being seduced by books about filmmakers; this is the second I DNF.

 

The prose got on my nerves fast, especially the overuse of italics. I wondered if perhaps this book intended to do what Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island does, which is exaggerate genre tropes and style for the purpose of representing a character's point of view. After skimming some reviews, it didn't seem so, and i wasn't willing to continue reading to find out.

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review 2018-02-11 18:46
Night Film
Night Film - Marisha Pessl

The body of young, beautiful Ashley Cordova has been found in an abandoned warehouse. It appears as though she has committed suicide. But investigative journalist Scott McGrath believes this is not true. Ashley's father is Stanislas Cordova, an enigma. He's a film director whose dark, unsettling work can be found underground along with a cult following. Scott believes he may have had a hand in what happened to his daughter. As Scott digs deeper into the Cordova's lives, interviewing those closest to both Stanislas and Ashley as well as those who last seen Ashley before her death, he begins to wonder if he's the next victim.

The hardcover was on sale for $5! Where could I go wrong? I love the iridescent letters and luckily the story inside is good. It's long, I'm happy it's over, but it's solid all the way through. The thing that really bothered me throughout was the excessive italics. Not only was it annoying, it was distracting. I also didn't like the ending. Towards the end I was like 'oh my God, this is good!' then the author started to lose me, but then I thought 'well, this isn't so bad' But the actual ending, ugh. No. I really enjoyed the mystery and secrecy surrounding Stanislas Cordova. There were lots of weird things happening, that's for sure! Some things may not be as they seem. I liked all the characters. Each of them were different and they seemed real to me. Speaking of different, I really liked Nora. I hope New York hasn't taken away her sparkle.

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review 2017-11-27 18:17
Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Night Film - Marisha Pessl

 

Night Film gripped me. I was on the edge of my seat for most of the book, reading the book in large chunks, taking breaks and taking my time, because of dark and disturbing content, and also to just think. This book made me think a lot. The story isn't what I would call scary, but thrilling or suspenseful are good words for it. There was one scene where the main character is on a movie set and something happens that made my heart race a little bit. Yes, that bit did scare me. It was done very well in my opinion. I liked how we are not quite sure what happened.

The writing style was really good and easy to read. It flowed well. However, I did find a lot of the story repetitive. Some of the phrases were repeated so much, for example, the main character said "thank Christ" so much that I felt annoyed each time he said it.

I enjoyed the supplemented material. They added to the book to give it more of a creepy, real vibe.

There was mention of a past romance with the main character's ex, but other than that no romance, except for one small part. I liked that there was no secondary plot of romance, taking from the main plot.

I loved how when Nora came onto Scott, he turned her down and was a gentleman about it. She was over 18, of course, and there would have been nothing legally wrong for them hooking up, but I think this part in the book was handled so well, and I am happy Nora accepted this and in the end, Scott is more of a father figure to her.

(spoiler show)


I liked and disliked the way the book ended. It ended in a similar way one of Cordova's films would end, so that was pretty neat, but on the other hand frustrating for the reader. You might know what I mean when you get to that point.

Over all, it was an enjoyable read and one that will have me wondering for a long time.

This whole thing with Cordava's films really made me want to see his movies, as if they were real. Even with the disturbing background of the films, a morbid curiosity had me dying to see what the big deal was with this director and his films. Would I become one of his fans? Would I spend my days on the blackboards talking about theories?

 

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review 2017-09-20 00:00
Night Film
Night Film - Marisha Pessl I wanted to love this book. Everyone loves this book. But I didn't love this book. It was just okay.
I found it interesting at the beginning, but it began to drag on and on until I eventually lost interest in the mystery, because I just wanted it to be over. I didn't DNF it because I had just enough interest to make me want to find out how it ended, but when that ending FINALLY came, I was just left feeling unsatisfied. I will say however that Marisha Pessl, is amazing when it comes to her character development, writing characters that feel unique and real. I loved some of the suspense and the atmosphere and the premise was great, but it just stretched out too long.
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