Published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group on June 5th 2018
Genres: Fiction, Thrillers
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This is the second book I’ve read in the last couple of years that should just be called “The Talented Mr. Rip-Off”. Genuine Fraud was the other one. The moment you tell us that a book is like The Talented Mr. Ripley – which the blurb does – you basically spoil everything that happens for anyone who knows the plot of that book.
But, to be honest, I don’t think not knowing the plot of Social Creature could have saved it. I just don’t get the hype. This was an unpleasant reading experience from start to finish.
We are introduced to two blandly obnoxious characters called Louise and Lavinia. Louise is juggling several different jobs while struggling to pay the rent, until one day she meets a pampered socialite called Lavinia and gets dragged into a world of parties and drugs. Lavinia invites Louise to move in with her and the two become inseparable, with Louise becoming ever more obsessed with Lavinia and her life. Seeing as we are told in the beginning that Lavinia is dead, there’s no points for guessing what happens to her.
I’m all for intoxicating books that capture a whirlwind of events and emotions, but the world of this book felt like a fantasy version of New York City. These characters seem to exist in a bizarre vacuum where they drink and do drugs without reason or motivation for anything. Sleep all day; party all night. Rinse & repeat. I think the author was shooting for Gatsby but landed among Gossip Girl instead.
The writing itself is exhausting to read. Louise’s inner narrative is a series of run-on sentences and comma splices, making it confusing and painful. It’s a weird combination of frenetic writing style and slow pacing and I could not like it no matter how hard I tried.
In the end, I just didn’t care what would happen to anybody. It was so dragged out and slow, taking us through party after party with these vapid and unbelievable characters (honestly, Lavinia is like a cartoon character), until the inevitable happens and then there’s still another 100+ pages to get through. I really need to go read something fun now.