techeditor, March 7, 2015 (view all comments by techeditor)
Although fiction can mean unlikely events, the reader must be able to accept them or the story isn't engaging. NIGHT FILM is mostly boring because the story is unacceptable.
There is only a little character development.So the three main characters seem to be Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy assisting the main main character who keeps the story going with one remarkable guess after another and who likes to call himself Woodward. All other characters are caricatures who spill their guts to complete strangers (Nancy Drew, Hardy Boy, and Woodward) even when they have broken into or barged into the caricatures' homes.
Most unacceptable of all, though, is the black magic/devil's curse running throughout the story. Nancy Drew, Hardy Boy, and Woodward follow leads that are based on guesses about black magic or about the caricatures' reactions to black magic. You would think that Woodward, because he has past experience as an investigative reporter and with this subject matter, would be sensible. He starts out that way, but next thing you know, he's running to a specialist in black magic for advice about his daughter.
How is an intelligent reader to take this seriously?
Back to Woodward's daughter and their relationship: obviously, the reader is meant to see some correlation with the two main caricatures, Ashley and her father. Yet, because most of their actions are explained by black magic, I never saw it until the end.
It is too easy for an author to use black magic/devil's curse as an explanation. Unless the reader believes in that, it makes the entire story unacceptable.
Annelle, December 16, 2014 (view all comments by Annelle)
I was at my local library and in need of a book on cd. I had seen this one twice and thought why not. Well... I am glad that I did! Normally, I avoid these types of genre and stick to more mainstream fiction. Once I started this book, I got sucked in and was on the hunt with Scott, Nora, and Hopper. I loved all the twists and turns that the author lead you down. I loved the parts about Scott and his daughter. Just when I thought the ending would be one thing, I was so wrong. I also loved the paring of the book and the reader for the audiobook. Great pick! Thank goodness for this book - i will be expanding my reading picks.
The Lost Entwife, January 11, 2014 (view all comments by The Lost Entwife)
I'm not usually into mytery/thriller/suspense novels. Granted, I have a few authors I follow pretty religiously (Ahem, Tana French, I'm so ready for your next), but mostly 10 years of reading James Patterson and Stuart Woods books pretty much put me off from the genre for the last few years. When the buzz about Night Film started to emerge I took one look at the cover and dismissed the novel. It didn't appeal to me at all. But then, something strange happened.
Have you ever looked at something and thought, nope, not interested, but then it lingers in the back of your mind and you start to think about wanting it and then that thinking turns into looking at it online...but then just before you decide to take the leap you worry that maybe you have built it up to be something it's not and you dread the inevitable disappointment? No? Yes? Beuller? Well, welcome to what my mind is like. So I didn't take the plunge, I didn't make the purchase, but I did put the book on my wishlist.
No one got me it for Christmas.
So how did I finally manage to get to it? Let me tell you a bit of a story (please, indulge me because a real review is coming up and this is necessary for me to review it). I didn't go to the library, I didn't manage to win a gift card or stumble across it on paperback swap. Nope. I went home for two weeks over Christmas/New Years (my folks home where I lived while going to school. I haven't been back since moving to Hawaii last May) and spent a total of 11 of my 14 days home there, looking at my beloved book shelves filled with books, and not noticing a thing until day 12. On day 12 I noticed something odd. A book in a strange place, right in the middle of a series. What was it? Why it was an advance paperback copy of Night Film. Weird, right? It was the ONLY book that missed my change of address and so there it sat while I sat in Hawaii wondering whether I should finally take the plunge.
So I read the book during a 40 hour trip back to the islands. I devoured every word, sometimes more than once or even twice. I pored over all of the "extras" inside. And the entire time I was immersed in this book I kept thinking of the circumstances that led to it being in my hands. You see, this book is about something dark and deep, but also it's about being caught up in something that's bigger than yourself. And that's what happened here. Someone knew I wanted this book before I even knew it myself. And so there it sat, waiting for me. It's so strange that I didn't see it right away (my mother confirmed it arrived during the summer so it wasn't a recent placement), because I am usually very in tune with my system and what's on my shelves.
I loved Night Film, folks. I mean... I loved it so much that I'm going to sit right here and type that it will be in my top five books of 2014, and the year has barely begun. The amount of detail put into this story is unreal. From the articles to the entire persona built up by Pessl - the atmosphere is set right away and not once does the pace slacken or let loose its grip on the reader. I actually had to put down the book and just absorb some parts because so much happened in certain scenes that I needed to take time to process and remember what had come before.
So yes, Night Film is hands-down a favorite. And now I know that I need to buy that hardcover edition - not just for myself but for the readers around me as well. Marisha Pessl has a new fan right here and now I will add another author to that shelf that is anxiously awaiting my other favorite authors next releases.
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W S Krauss, January 2, 2014 (view all comments by W S Krauss)
This book is an unconventional literary mystery, a masterpiece of a plot, with wonderfully crafted characters. Despite the dark subject matter, I enjoyed spending time with these characters. Scott McGrath, a discredited journalist, is investigating the apparent suicide of Ashley Cordova, the daughter of a famous cult film director. It was this director that was the subject of Scott's writing that caused the destruction of his reputation. It's five years later and Scott sees the opportunity to try to revive his career by finding out more about Cordova and why his daughter would want to kill herself. Along the way, he teams up with Nora, a coat checker from Florida who was the last person to see Ashley alive, and Hopper, who Scott found at the scene of Ashley's death. All three are caught up in the strange and frightening world of Cordova's mind-bending films. The investigation leads to dangerous and mysterious places, where all is not as it seems. Pessl will have you in her spell until the end. I highly recommend this book.
Rachelle Shanrock, December 28, 2013 (view all comments by Rachelle Shanrock)
I love to read, but in general most of the time I probably only read for 20 minutes at a time. Not with Night Film. I read it in, oh, I suppose, 6 hour increments. Over 3 days. I just finished it and my head is still spinning.
Yes, the use of italics is way too much. Sure, there might be a couple plot holes I didn't notice. But none of that matters one bit. Because this book is ENCHANTING. It drew me in, I almost felt like I literally couldn't put it down. And it was so exciting. Toward the end I just couldn't believe the turn of events and my eyes just hungrily ate up every single word. Scott, Nora, even Hopper, and especially Ashley, enchanted me as I got to know them and felt their presence.
There were a lot of quotes that I loved, but here's a random one:
"And just like that, he began to tell us all about her as the rain beat the windows like an army trying to get in."
This book haunts me and I can't wait for the day I pick it up to read it again. For Pete's sake, just read it!
Random House -
A labyrinthine, complex literary horror-mystery novel, Night Film has a seemingly endless amount of twists and turns. I was immediately and completely sucked into the story: a dark tale of an infamous horror filmmaker, his ethereal daughter, the multitude of loyal hangers-on, a possible suicide, a possible murder, disappearing witnesses, and a devastating love story. Pessl is a worthy storyteller and she certainly knows how to force you to the top of her cliffhangers. Midway through, the story seemed to become bogged down with everything devolving into some kind of dark-magic, supernatural mumbo-jumbo. Luckily, that particular twist was just a ruse designed to confuse — and, yes — I was duped. Hang on — Pessle will fling you, blindfolded, on a long and switch-backed roller coaster ride down a pitch-black rabbit hole. Enjoy the jaunt.
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Seven years after Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Pessl returns with a novel as twisted and intelligent as that lauded debut. Again, the story centers on a father-daughter relationship, but this time the sinister element is front and center, beginning with the daughter's death. The 'night films' of Stanislas Cordova have a cult following: fans hold underground screenings and claim that to see his work is to 'leave your old self behind, walk through hell, and be reborn.' Ashley Cordova is his enigmatic daughter; she appears in his final film at the age of eight, debuts as a pianist at Carnegie Hall at 12, and apparently commits suicide at 24. Scott McGrath is a reporter who lost his job investigating Stanislas and can't resist his need to uncover the real story of Ashley's death. Though the structure is classic noir, Pessl delivers lifelike horror with glimpses, in the form of faux Web sites, of the secretive Stanislas, his films, and his fans. Things slow down when Scott breaks into Stanislas's estate; sustained terror depends on what is withheld, not what is shown. But Pessl does wonderful work giving the hard-headed Scott reason to question the cause of Ashley's death, and readers will be torn between logic and magic. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
by Library Journal,
“This summer’s Gone Girl: a completely absorbing literary thriller.”
by Entertainment Weekly,
“Get ready to talk about this book.”
by Time Out New York,
“A literary mystery that’s also a page-turner...Night Film might be the most talked-about novel this summer.”
by Kirkus Reviews,
“An inventive — if brooding, strange and creepy — adventure in literary terror. Think Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King meet Guillermo del Toro as channeled by Klaus Kinski.”
by Booklist (starred review),
“Expands from a seemingly straightforward mystery into a multifaceted, densely byzantine exploration of much larger issues....Into this mazelike world of dead ends and false leads, McGrath ventures with his two, much younger helpers, Nora and Hopper, brilliantly portrayed Holmesian ‘irregulars’ who may finally understand more about Ashley than their mentor, whose linear approach to fact finding might miss the point entirely.”
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