Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Night Film by Marisha Pessl


One night, twenty-four year old Ashley Cordova, the daughter of cult film director Stanislas Cordova, is found dead in an apparent suicide.  Disgraced journalist Scott McGrath begins to investigate her death in an attempt to solve the mystery surrounding Cordova and his later works, which can only be bought on the black market.  The films are legendary, shown in underground screenings all over the world, and have even been reported to make viewers insane.  But as McGrath begins to follow Ashley's trail, he comes across a web of sinister rumours and connections that prove difficult to get to the bottom of. Just what is real and what is made up for the films?

Night Film is going to be a very difficult book to review, because it's one of those books where the less you know about it, the better.  It's full of twists and turns as the line between reality and myth is blurred throughout the book, and you never quite know what the truth is.  I'd love to say more about the plot, but I can't without ruining the reading experience.  You'll have to take it from me - Night Film is a clever page turner and will certainly keep you guessing.

One thing I loved about the book was the inclusion of different types of media.  Alongside the written story, Pessl has included screenshots of websites, personal records, police files, magazine clippings and transcriptions of messages.  There's even an app you can download as you read, which I chose not to use, but which has more elements of the same sort.  I really enjoyed these parts of the book as it gave you the feeling of solving the mystery along with McGrath and allowed you to make up your own mind as you went.

Night Film is a chunky book but I raced through it in under three days as I simply could not put it down.  It's certainly an active reading experience, as the book and the characters got into my head and have stayed there ever since.  I found parts of it genuinely creepy and haunting as Pessl plays with horror and how reality can be manipulated to create certain experiences.  I don't think I'm doing a good job of articulating just why I loved this book so much, but it's so different from everything else I read and it's just one of those books that worm their way into your very being and stay there.  It's not a book I'm likely to forget any time soon.

So the take-home message from this review is: read Night Film, and read it as soon as possible.  You wont be disappointed!

Source: Personal copy
First Published: 2013
Score: 5 out of 5

21 comments:

  1. Ooh, I like unexpected twists in books...especially ones that keep you guessing until the very end. Have you ever read S.J. Bolton's Now You See Me? It's full of twists and turns, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't read it, I'm not normally a thriller reader at all, which was why I was surprised I liked Night Film as much as I did.

      Delete
  2. I read this back when it was published here and liked many elements, though I didn't love it. I really enjoyed the mixed media format and am curious to see if any other novels take that approach.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would like to see more mixed media in books too.

      Delete
  3. I like how you say it is an active reading experience. The story itself makes you feel like things are creeping around every corner and the extra features really add to the book. Pessl is certainly an interesting writer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She is interesting - I'm going to have to read Special Topics in Calamity Physics at some point now.

      Delete
  4. I'm pretty much on the fence with Night Film... I would like to try it because I am attracted to the aspect of using different media, but on the other hand I know that twisty-turny page turners usually aren't my cup of tea (I really didn't appreciate Gone Girl that much...) But seeing you give such a high rating to this book I am again unsure. Maybe I will read it if it somehow makes its way into my life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Page turners aren't generally my cup of tea either, it was the horror aspects that initially drew me to the book. I reckon if a copy happens to come into your hands, don't pass up on it!

      Delete
  5. I loved the format of The Night Film, though the story left me wanting. I'm not really into thrillers and I would put Night Film in that category. I also loved Pessl's first novel and this one was so different, not quite what i was expecting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad to hear you loved her first novel, as I'm looking forward to reading it soon.

      Delete
  6. Whenever I see Night Film in a bookshop I almost buy it every time. I don't know what is putting me off (the size?) when I've heard such good things. I do love the idea of different media, it always makes me think that books are becoming so much more than words and paper. Next time I'm in a bookshop, I won't dither, I'll just get it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a very long book but it doesn't feel as long as it is, which is good. Hope you enjoy it :)

      Delete
  7. I'm intrigued by your comment that this book is best read when you know very little about it. I generally love books like that because I don't have any expectations from the story and I am willing to go with the ride, wherever it is to. I will have to take a look at this one. I have heard some about it, but I really don't know the plot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am a control freak who normally likes to know everything about a book before starting it, but this is one where it is genuinely best to just go along for the ride.

      Delete
  8. I read Night Film this year and liked it so much I asked for it for Christmas. The design is fantastic! I wish more books would play around with different ways of storytelling the way Night Film does.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too, I'd love to read more books like it.

      Delete
  9. This one was a book-blogger fail for me -- I have an ARC of it that I have still not gotten around to. When I first heard about it, I don't think I realized how long it was -- I enjoy chunky books, but I just keep passing it over for other things for some reason. This has reinvigorated my interest though -- time to finally pluck it off the shelf :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is super long, but it is actually quite a quick read. And I have quite a few unread ARCs on my shelves and kindle, it makes me feel guilty!

      Delete
    2. That is good to know! And I feel so guilty too, hoping to make a dent in the review pile soon :)

      Delete
  10. I'm still working my way through this one, but hope to finish within the next day. While I'm finding the final hundred pages a little slow (at least the part I'm at right now), overall I like the book and am totally intrigued to find out how it's all going to end!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Bloggers I trust have loved this book and, from BD's description, it would never be the kind of book I, or those bloggers, would love. But if you all agree, it must be because of something!

    ReplyDelete