Monday, June 22, 2015

Night Film by Marisha Pessl [SPOILER FREE REVIEW]

Hey, y'all! So, I recently read Night Film by Marisha Pessl. Normally, I would film a video review and would eventually get around to writing a review. HOWEVER, given the nature of this book and my opinions on it, I realized that it would be really difficult to articulate my feelings in video form.
But because it was such an interesting read, I had to at least do some sort of review, and decided to just do a written review. So let's jump into it!

Stanislas Cordova is an enigma. This cult horror director hasn't made a public appearance in over 30 years, but maintains a rabid, obsessive fanbase. 

Scott McGrath is a once-revered journalist whose life fell apart when he dug too deep into Cordova's life a few years back. Disgraced and drug through the mud by the media and Cordova's lawyers, his career became irreparable. But, when Cordova's daughter, Ashley, dies in an apparent suicide, McGrath's curiosity and desire for revenge drives him to dig once again into the life and career of Stanislas Cordova. 

This book... the best way that I can describe it is a mindfreak. After finishing the book, I went back and re-watched some of Regan's (PeruseProject on YouTube) videos where she talked about the book, and she said several times that this was one of the most immersive books that she's ever read, and that perfectly hits the nail on the head for me as well. Everything about the world and the characters feels so real and well developed that it felt real. I've made it no secret on here and my YouTube channel that I don't get scared/ freaked out easily. I watched Saw for the first time while chowing down on popcorn and see horror movies in the theater almost solely to see my friends freak out. 

However, this book FREAKED. ME. OUT. (Granted, I'd also just discovered that my hallway is "haunted," but given the fact that I don't believe ghosts exist and that I've been perfectly fine since finishing the book, I think I'm going to chalk it up to Night Film.) Anyway, the best way I can describe my emotional state while reading this is paranoia. While walking down the hall in my dorm, I found myself constantly double-checking to make sure the nonexistent ghost wasn't behind me, and when I went to sleep, I was convinced that every single sound was someone (or that freaking ghost) in my room. Seriously. And I knew it was possibly my most illogical and idiotic reaction to anything ever, but that's just the state of mind that this book put me into. 

As well as messing with my emotions, Night Film also messed with my mind. I found myself constantly questioning what was really going on. One second I would believe one thing, the next second I had completely changed my mind. It felt like the further I got into the book and the more that was uncovered, it just felt like I had less and less of an idea as to what was really going on. That, for me, is the sign of a really great mystery. 

One of the coolest aspects of this book, for me, was that there were visual aspects strewn throughout the book that just added to the immersive experience. If Scott was on a website researching something, there would be a screenshot of the website shown in the book. Images of the case files are also shown several times, and this just added a wonderful visual element to the reading experience.

That doesn't mean that the book is without its flaws, however. While I really liked the characters, I did think that one or two seemed a little stereotypical. Personally, this did not bother me because (as I said), I did really like the characters. However, I know that this might bother some people, so I figured I should at least mention it. 

Per usual, I did think that at least a few aspects of the book were pretty easy to figure out. I do think that these were probably purposeful, however, which is a nice change from just figuring out the twist because it's accidentally obvious. Aside from those few moments, though, I did think that the book was pretty unpredictable. Like I said, it messed with my mind. I found myself chasing different ideas that I was certain were the twists that would ultimately be unsurprisingly thrown in... just to learn a new piece of information 10 pages later which made my idea impossible. So while a couple things were pretty easy to predict, I thought that the book overall was very surprising.

The plot was very engrossing as well. I found myself constantly either thinking about the book or wanting to read the book, and that's always a really great sign. I've found that people are torn half and half between liking and disliking the ending. I'm kind of torn on this. I think that it was a really great ending, but I'm not totally sure how much I liked the ending. I think my opinion on the end sums up my opinion on the book in general. 

It comes down to the dichotomy of appreciation versus liking. I can absolutely appreciate this book, and enjoyed the experience of reading it thoroughly and liked it, but I definitely like some books more than this one even if I would say that Night Film is a better book overall. The best explanation/example that I can use for this is that I gave both Night Film and The Body Electric by Beth Revis the same rating and ranked Night Film higher on my 2015 rankings list because I feel like its slightly better overall than The Body Electric, but I ranked The Body Electric higher on my top 20 standalones because I like it slightly more than I like Night Film. 

So, in the end, I gave Night Film 9.5 stars out of 10. It was a really excellent read, but the appreciation/like dichotomy kept me from giving it a full 10/10.

So, that's it for my review of Night Film by Marisha Pessl! Let me know down in the comments if you have any questions about the book, because I can absolutely answer them for you. Also, if you've read Night Film, tell me what you thought of it! It's such an interesting experience that I feel like there will be many varying opinions on it, so I'd love to hear what everyone else thought.

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