Night Film by Marisha Pessl (Audio Book)

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Night Film

Five words from the blurb: journalist, director, disorientating, mystery, reality

Night Film is an unusual thriller. It follows Scott McGrath, a journalist investigating strange events linked to the famous, but illusive Cordova family. Stanislas Cordova is a cult horror film director and his daughter recently committed suicide. Their lives are packed with secrets, many of which involve dark magic. McGrath’s investigations lead him into some very strange situations and the line between reality and imagination was often blurred.  Some scenes were a bit weird, but I loved not knowing what would happen next!

I began listening to the audio version of this book, but quickly realised that I was missing something. The first few chapters were packed with photographs, Internet pages and other images and this meant I wasn’t understanding subtler aspects of the plot. In order to fully appreciate the book I got the hardback version from the library and was impressed by the visual content, but found that it was poorly written and couldn’t hold my attention. I switched back to the audio and noticed that the dialogue-led writing worked far better in this medium – all my issues with writing quality were resolved and I was gripped!

The story was long and meandering, but I loved the twists and turns. I thought it was well paced and some aspects were very cleverly thought out.  It wasn’t great literature, but it was entertaining and original. 

I was slightly worried that I’d find the horror film aspects of this book disturbing, but I didn’t find that to be the case. I guess that some people might have issues the darker scenes, but I found that descriptions were toned down to the right level for me. There was no gore or gratuitous violence and most of the scary sections involved psychological fear, mainly of the unknown.

Overall this was a memorable mystery and I recommend the audio version to anyone looking for something a little bit different.

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The thoughts of other bloggers:

I read this book not once, but twice, unable to cut the ties that bind me to its brilliance. Jenn’s Bookshelves

…in a few places the novel veered into territory that was a little unnecessarily weird for me. The Book Project

It is overwritten and could have been edited down to about half its size… Caribousmom


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14 Comments

  1. Wendy says:

    Glad you enjoyed this one, Jackie! Thanks for the linky love :)

  2. I’m intrigued that you switched back and forth between the audio and the physical book at the outset! Did the audio differentiate in some way between the regular text and the articles from journals, or just announce what they were going to be and then read them as usual?

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenny, The audio book didn’t work for the pictures at all. The narrator just left a brief pause and then read the caption to the photo (or the exact text of the internet page) It took me a while to work out that there must be images in the physical book as I was lost. It just didn’t make sense. It really needed to be re-written for the audio narration so that pictures were described and not every word on the internet clippings was read out.

      Luckily there was less visual content towards the end of the book so it made more sense that way, but this is a rare book where the audio version is better than the physical book, but you need both so you can see the pictures as you go along!

  3. tanya says:

    I found your review really interesting. Night Film is such a visual book I didn’t know how it would work as an audio book. But i like your analysis. The writing wasn’t great and I actually found it surprising difficult to finish. But I did like the visual aspects of the book. I can see how the story and dialogue would make for a better listen than read.

    1. Jackie says:

      Tanya, I thought the visual aspects worked really well too. It is such a shame that the writing quality wasn’t good enough to support the paper version – I wish I could have read it that way.

  4. Bellezza says:

    I ended up not liking it as much as you did, although I was entranced for the first two-thirds. The last third became very convoluted for me, too many twists and turns, and I’m still uncertain about Cordova on the island at the end. What did that mean? Anyway, it was brilliant in its imagination and techniques of drawing in the Internet.

    1. Jackie says:

      Bellezza, I agree that the last third wasn’t quite as strong. I thought it should have ended a bit earlier and was surprised when it kept going off on new tangents. In the end I didn’t mind the final island scene.

      SPOILERS. It was nice to know he was still alive and capable of continuing his weird films!

  5. Annabel says:

    I gave up on her first book (Special somethingorother in Calamity Physics) after a couple of chapters. Found it totally overwritten, so I’m not attracted to this one.

    1. Jackie says:

      Annabel, It is interesting to know her first book was overwritten too. I wonder if it is worth seeking that on out on audio?!

  6. Kailana says:

    I read this a couple months ago and loved it. I had originally planned to go the audio book route, but someone advised otherwise… I have heard it is great, though, but it is a pretty book to actually have the experience with. I want to reread it on audio one day.

    1. Jackie says:

      Kailana, I think re-reading it on audio will work really well. You already have the images in your head so won’t be missing out on anything :-)

  7. Ifi says:

    Mmmm, I was going to go for the audio version but if I am going to miss out on the visual delights of this book I’ give this a miss altogether. Too much of a hassle to find a hard copy in order to flip back and forth between the two.

    1. Jackie says:

      Ifi, I still think it is worth getting the audio version. It is a bit odd in the beginning as you miss out on the images, but these get less frequent as the book progresses and I think the book is still enjoyable without them. I agree that trying to get hold of both is a hassle not worth having!

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