Author: Marisha Pessl
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: August 2013
Genre: Adult Fiction
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Synopsis can be found here.
I purchased this book
Scott McGrath can’t let it go. When news breaks that Cordova’s daughter Ashley has committed suicide, Scott must find out why. It may be the answer to his fall from grace all those years ago, when he first started investigating Cordova, the recluse film director. It may be his answer back to the top. It may be darker than he ever imagined.
Throw in a pair of amateur detective side kicks and Scott is doing more than investigating the “suicide”. He’s babysitting two kids who have more to do with Ashley Cordova than he first thought. But as they dive deeper and deeper into the director’s legacy, what is real blurs into Cordova’s films. Fiction is too close to reality and who says it can’t be replicated in real life?
I loved Pessl’s Special Topics in Calamity Physics. It still is one of my favorite books. So I had high expectations for Night Film.
The dark, eerie tone of the book starts off from page one, thrown into this seemingly real world where Cordova’s name is feared and revered in the same sentence. The name is bigger than the man, his power unlimited as he explores evil of the human condition in his films and directing. There is tons of Cordova world building, which I love. There’s a biography of Cordova, interactive media, “research” pages, synopses of films and actors. The book fully submersed me into the world of Cordova, his films, his mysteries and most of all, his crazy fans.
His fans are crazy. They are crazy pants. Have you seen any crazy pills? No? It’s because Cordova’s fans have eaten them all!
The general malicious and dangerous feeling of the book wrapped around my heart, allowing me to only digest the book in small segments. (It took me quite a long time to read it because I was hanging on every word.) And that is something amazing. Cordova, who is merely a ghost through the book, is one of the biggest characters through the story, silently lurking in the shadows. His fans and his films are equally large characters, making the evils of the world faceless strangers weaving in and out of Scott’s investigation. These were my favorite parts of the book- Cordova’s life, the speculation, the world. I fully believed in this place, this alternate world.
Scott, our investigator, is not a favorite. He’s selfish, stubborn and only set on one thing- investigating Cordova to find out the truth. He blames his failings on the director and if he could just find out about Ashley and in turn, Cordova’s secrets…
The characters in Cordova’s world are super creepy and interesting. I really loved how the plot twists again and again going from reality to fiction, never knowing what should be believed. There’s black magic, death, illness, mysterious items and sacrifices. There’s everything and maybe all of it is true and maybe none of it is true. That’s part of the beauty of the book- how Pessl rolls them together until no one knows what is possible. The writing is stellar and awesome.
There were only a couple of things that bothered me. First off- everyone is eager to talk to Scott. In fact, as far as investigative detectives go, he’s pretty lucky. Even when they are told NOT to talk to them, characters can’t seem to come out of the woods and secretly hold meetings for him with hidden information, baring their soul and how they knew Ashley Cordova. I found this to be a little bit unbelievable because Cordova’s entire world is about secrecy and yet, every place they went, they found someone who was willing to talk to them. Mental hospital security tight? Don’t worry- a red headed nurse will run after your car and give you a lead. Security Guard can’t talk? Not to fret! He will meet you in the woods outside his house later on. And so forth.
Also, I was a bit disappointed in the characters at the end. There wasn’t a lot of self reflection, learning, redemption. I liked the plot ending, and the closing scene. That made my day, but Scott’s journey was shallow and I still didn’t like him by the time I closed the book. I usually need to like the main characters in order to love the book, but Night Film is filled with so much more, it didn’t hinder my reading experience at all.
Overall, a wonderful book to be read as the weather gets cold and the days get dark.
Rating 8 Cookie Worthy