I came here to keep in touch with all my friends who left GR after the censorship debacle. I read a little of every genre. I co-blog at Musings of a Bibliomaniac.
Night Film opens with one hell of a prologue - easily the best I have ever come across. Those opening pages exude such authentic creepiness that it becomes impossible to not keep turning the pages, to not want to know more about the enigma of the reclusive legendary Hollywood director, Stanislas Cordova. This, I believe, is Pessl's greatest achievement here. With multimedia inclusions and some tight writing, she manages to do in a handful of pages what so many authors spend entire books trying; she manages to intrigue the reader, to lure him in, to make him take the bait.
I blew through this not-so-slight book in less than 3 days. That should give you an idea of the reading frenzy I was in.
So why the low rating??
Because once the frenzy ended and I put the book down, I realized I wasn't wowed by the actual plot or blown away by that ending and all it did or didn't imply.
The only feeling I was left with was an intense desire to watch a Cordova movie.
So the book certainly didn't fail. I wasn't bored or unaffected but the effect it did have was not really the kind Pessl intended, which is why I can't say it succeeded either.
Night Film follows a disgraced investigative reporter, Scott McGrath, as he digs into the mystery surrounding Ashley Cordova's suicide. Ashley, daughter of horror-film director Stanislas Cordova and a former piano prodigy, jumps to her death in downtown New York. Scott (who is such an unremarkable character that I'm struggling to find words to describe him) teams up with two twenty-something sidekicks (who are equally unremarkable and on top of that, annoying) as he runs around chasing clues, trying to hunt the truth that shifts and eludes like the patterns in a kaleidoscope.
The plot is one long treasure hunt centered around Cordova and while the chase is thrilling, I couldn't care less about the people I was forced to team up with. Every time Scott and his sidekicks took a break to ponder over their personal dilemmas, I would start to skim till the words 'Ashley' or 'Cordova' popped up again.
Night Film is not the kind of book that gives you the correct answer. What it gives you instead are multiple answers to the same question and leaves you to speculate which one is correct, if there even is such a thing as correct. If truth is a notion, how can anything be true? While the idea is great in theory, it did not hit me like I wanted it to. My reaction at the end was, "Who cares what the answer is when it doesn't change anything?" but I guess that has more to do with the kind of person I am. Maybe I'm someone who cares more about the effects and not the causes.
The writing is... good. If you ignore the inconsistency and the overuse of unnecessary italics, that is. There were some great parts writing-wise but no line or quote stood out enough to stay with me.
Overall, I'd definitely recommend Night Film. It did not blow me away but it was gripping enough to make me sacrifice sleep. This book is an experience and while the impact may differ from person to person, I think it is an experience worth having.
P.s. The Blackboards actually exists. See here.