Tara Isabella Burton
Expected Publication date: June 5th, 2018
Page count: 320
Goodreads: See here
Plot at a Glance:
They go through both bottles of champagne right there on the High Line, with nothing but the stars over them… They drink and Lavinia tells Louise about all the places they will go together, when they finish their stories, when they are both great writers-to Paris and to Rome and to Trieste…
Lavinia will never go. She is going to die soon.
Louise has nothing. Lavinia has everything. After a chance encounter, the two spiral into an intimate, intense, and possibly toxic friendship. A Talented Mr. Ripley for the digital age, this seductive story takes a classic tale of obsession and makes it irresistibly new.
Mesmerizing, twisted and intense, Social Creature examines the destructive power of narcissism in the digital age – and the lengths one will go to obtain the glamorous lifestyle portrayed in their social media accounts.
Evocative of the glitz and glamour of The Great Gatsby, New York City high society life has never seemed so nihilistic as it does in this novel. Told through the perspective of 29 year old Louise – an outsider looking in on a world she’s always aspired to join – Tara Isabelle Burton highlights the dangers of living one’s life for the sake of what other people think,when Louise is paired against Lavinia, a 23 year old socialite obsessed with the carefully calculated image she portrays to those around her.
Lavinia and Louise’s relationship is one of the most toxic and parasitic relationships I can recall reading in recent memory, which made the first half of this book so readable as their behavior pushes them both towards disaster. Lavinia is every horrible, narcissistic personality I’ve ever met – turned up to an 11. Desperate to belong, and to finally make something of herself, Louise is both strung along, but also a willing participant in their perpetual quest to portray themselves as perfect everyone else around them. Until Lavinia ends up dead, and Louise finds herself working overtime to protect her new lifestyle and escape her past.
The narrative voice employed here took a little while for me to get used to and might not be for everybody. Told in a sort of stream of consciousness style, the narration allows the reader a glimpse into Louise’s almost manic state of mind.She’s constantly examining the motivations of everyone around her, and yet never acknowledging how calculating and manipulative her own actions often are. She’s drawn into Lavinia’s world like a fly to a spider, though she quickly undergoes a metamorphosis into her own type of predator in order to survive.
There is not one likable character out of the entire lot here, which is often a source of frustration for me with suspense thrillers. I understand the point that Tara Isabella Burton was attempting to make – exposing the devastating effects that comes from attempting to live up to an idealized glamorous lifestyle, but because every character is engaging in this sort of behavior, they are all equally pretentious – quoting Tennyson and other classic works to one another in casual conversation. It’s psuedo-intellectualism at its finest,although as the name-dropping increased I wondered if this wasn’t also the author’s attempt to display her own intelligence to the reader, which I found more than a little ironic.
Still, I couldn’t drag myself away from Louise’s transformation and character journey. Sort of like a car crash unfolding over the course of 320 pages. You know that it’s headed towards disaster, and you can’t help but watch through your fingers to see how the character is going to get herself out of this ever unfolding mess she finds herself in. I was shocked by the lengths she goes to, both to protect her secrets and to appear unto others as as someone she is not. By assimilating into Lavinia’s world, she becomes as ruthless and cold as her predecessor by the end of the novel. It’s a fascinating transformation to witness, and that alone made this such a compelling read.
Tara Isabella Burton is one to watch out for in the years to come. I can’t wait to see what stories she thinks up next.
🌟🌟🌟🌟 = 4/5 stars!
Thank you Netgalley, and Doubleday books for an eARC of this book!
Have you read this? What did you think of it? Lets chat about it below!