Reviews

Night Film, by Marisha Pessl

jthern's review against another edition

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4.0

While I thought the plot build up was starting to go a bit over-the-top, the big exposition was surprisingly satisfying and disappointing (in a good way)... And then more happens, but I don't want to get into any spoilers.

andreaz's review against another edition

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4.0

I am lover of Hitchcock and the figure of Cordova in this book reminded me of the cult of personality that Hitchcock engenders in his fans. Or Kubrik. Either way, the whole time I was reading, I wasn't sure if I was supposed to be a skeptic about the supernatural elements or if I was supposed to suspend belief and go along with it. That tension held to the very end, through every twist and turn. I missed the fact that the book has its own app(!) and still have to check out those interactive elements, but overall this book was a great read that got better and better as it twisted towards its ending.

aisforartist's review against another edition

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adventurous challenging dark emotional mysterious reflective sad tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

kazen's review

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3.0

The last thing I want to do is spoil anyone so please excuse any vagueness or odd hand waving. Hopefully those who have read the book will know what I'm getting at.

Like any good mystery we start off with a bunch of intriguing questions - was Ashley's death really a suicide? Who is this reclusive Cordova guy, anyway? And what kind of guy would make such twisted films?

The (non-spoilery) good stuff:

- The backstory. Pessl obviously put a ton of work into Cordova's filmography and it shows. I was worried that with a dozen or so film titles being thrown around I would get confused but there was always ample context.

- How the arc of the book as a whole mirrors... something else. While some might be annoyed with the end I thought it was fitting, especially how it related to... that something else. ~shakes a fist at the spoiler-free sky~

- Cordova's philosophy. I can't say I agree with it, but it's intriguing and made me think about how I'm living my own life. Not to mention that I need to read a certain poem now.

- Most of the characters are on the "unlikeable" side of the scale but they didn't make me want to throw the book across the room. All have their own motivations (however twisted) and it works.

The (zero spoiler) bad stuff:

- In the first half of the book question after question is raised but precious few are answered, and around the 50% mark I started to lose interest. Why should I keep reading if it just digs me deeper into a hole? Near the end things picked up and gave me some stuff to think about but it was a struggle to get there.

- The extras available through the "decoder" app. A couple were neat (a filmography, primary documents) but some were maddening. An interview with a murderer was especially bad, because...

- ...while Pessl does the fiction thing really well the art of the interview is lost on her. The questions sound like they're being read in order, no matter what the subject says. The murderer in particular leaves all these juicy tidbits hanging in the air, begging for follow up, but the interviewer just goes to the next question on her list. Maybe I've been spoiled by Terry Gross but it was beyond annoying.

- The voice acting in the app left much to be desired. It sounded like reading, not acting out a part.

Overall it was an interesting read that left me thinking but sadly it didn't live up to the hype.

bandherbooks's review

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4.0

Night Film really reminded me of a supernatural "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." A disgraced, middle-aged journalist finds himself drawn back into the story that lost him his credibility in the first place, and finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into a creepy mystery that he needs the help of some younger folks to figure out. Despite this plot similarity I still found myself captivated with trying to figure out why this myseterious filmmaker's daughter died. I found the figure of Cordova, a director with an under-group cult following to be the most intriguing aspect of this tale. I wasn't so enchanted by Ashley (the daughter) as the rest of the character's seemed to be, and the ending really made me want to throw the book across the room. Spooky times though! Didn't expect the supernatural turn this book took either.

lirelyn's review against another edition

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Kinda... meh? I feel like there were a lot of good ingredients here, but they didn't quite come together in a way that felt satisfying for me. I was mildly curious throughout, a little bit to find out what happens and mostly to find out whether the author realizes what an obnoxious ass the main character is (I'm still not sure.)

About 2/3 of the way through, I figured out what I thought was going to be the solution to the whole story, and thought it was pretty neat. And it still might have been? It was left ambiguous. I would have liked the book better if it had been made clearer, because I don't think ultimately the themes resonated enough to make the ambiguity powerful.

There are a few things that I feel like might be clues that would make a re-read more revealing. But I don't really want to slog through the book again to find out.

jlovell's review against another edition

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dark mysterious tense medium-paced

3.0

nadmcglynn's review against another edition

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4.0

THIS BOOK WAS SO GOOD!!!! It's def like a 4.8 only going down a bit bc it seemed a little too drawn out and bc I WANT MORE??? i get the ending is supposed to be like Cordova's endings but STILL

greyscarf's review against another edition

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4.0

3.75 instead of 4.

beastlyenby's review against another edition

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3.0

Having previously read "Special Topics", I was very curious to see what sort of similarities and differences I would find in the style and content of "Night Film". While I am still at odds as to how much I actually enjoyed the latter, I did find quite a few consistencies between the two works that has led me to appreciate Marisha Pessl's abilities.

Firstly, the supplements in both novels. While I found Blues sketches and drawings to be endearing, I can honestly say that the website pages, photos, files and other documents scattered throughout "Night Film" provided a new level of interaction. It almost felt like I was reading a graphic novel. Furthermore, the amount of references made to literature (in "Special Topics") was astounding. Needless to say, the efforts paid to creating a filmography of Stanislas Cordova did not disappoint.

Secondly, attention to detail vis-a-vis clothing. While in "Special Topics" I assumed the attention Blue paid was linked to her age, the emphasis on clothing Sam McGrath paid in general and the energies paid by Marisha Pessl in outfitting her characters was astounding.

And finally, the endings. I won't go into detail but if you have read either of the two novels I have mentioned, you know that Marisha Pessl commits to building a case so thoroughly, that when she flips it on its head her readers may be caught off guard. The overhanging question as to what really happened may drive someone who prefers a clean answer up the wall.

In conclusion, you may not like this book if you don't care for the subject (black magic, conspiracy) or if you are looking for a whodunit. You may enjoy this book if you are looking for a carefully crafted, meticulously organized piece of fiction that questions the lengths to which someone may go to learn the truth, and what impact that could have on ones integrity, life and relationships.