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I’d heard conflicting reviews of Marisha Pessl’s Night Film, so I was a bit on guard going in. I’ll admit that. Still, I couldn’t improve my feelings towards the book as anything more than, meh. Or maybe, Well, okay.

Things that worked: I liked the idea of mixed media. I liked using fake internet articles and other media to help tell the story. Experimenting with form is always fun. I think it was just a bit too separate from the narrative – it definitely felt segmented and apart – but it was so close to working.

I was also genuinely frightened by the story. It certainly captured my imagination and then ran away with it. This was a daylights-only book for sure. So that tone definitely worked.

Things that didn’t work: The tone might have been spot-on in terms of capturing my imagination… but I still couldn’t connect with the characters. The interactions between the protag and his daughter were stilted and jarring to the point that they took me out of the story. I couldn’t care enough about the protag and his sad, sad story of a wronged good guy gone slightly bad. I know it can work – think of Blomkvist at the beginning of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – but it didn’t quite catch for me here. And when that happens for me, it’s hard for me to get invested.

Verdict: Go ahead and try it out for yourself if you can borrow a copy, but I wouldn’t spend money on it; certainly not full price.

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