Review | Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

Social Creature

Tara Isabella Burton
Expected Publication date: June 5th, 2018
Page count: 320
Genre: Thriller
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!





44 thoughts on “Review | Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

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  1. I had passed this one by but your review has pricked my interest – damn it – you are a bad influence! 😉 I ran to netgallery and put in a request… but my ratio has fallen and I may not get approved. I’ve been a greedy girl…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The cover is definitely gorgeous. I’ll be buying a physical copy just for that. And Lavinia’s death is sort of quick. We see it coming, because of the situation the characters are drawn into, and Lavinia sort of has it coming – which is a really strange thing to say about a character. It’s a really interesting way to write a thriller. Such a compelling dynamic between these two characters.


  2. I don’t know, I think I’m too much of a softie to ever really enjoy the stories where there isn’t one loveable character. I love flawed broken characters that are still enjoyable and appealing, but just plain selfishness just doesn’t appeal to me. I can’t enjoy these kinds of books, but I think I will buy it for Christmas for my friend who loves to read and watch trainwrecks like this.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, great review, I so don’t mind reading unlikable characters and this book looks and sounds like an amazingly fantastic book. I’m glad you really enjoy this book Bentley I might need to check it out when it comes out. Thank you so much for sharing your awesome post.


  4. Fantastic review! I always want to read these types of books but I’m never good with them. Betrayal and narcissism rarely sit well with me in books. It’s just so unsettling, even though I know that’s the point. I could barely get through Gossip Girl because of it LOL. But I’m desperate to keep trying. This book sounds so intense and very engrossing. Might just put it on my TBR. Again, brilliant review for this 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a tough time with betrayals in fiction too. Suspense thrillers are tough for me, because if every character is a horrible I sometimes struggle to find redeeming qualities to the story. This book makes up for the narcissistic and toxic characters by making some of their journeys really fun to witness.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Betrayals are just so hard to stomach. Too real LOL. And oh I definitely see what you mean. A cast of horrid characters is so difficult to handle but at least there is fun to be had in watching their very entertaining antics 😀 Glad this book at least makes it easier to bear haha

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I LOVED this book!! I’m so glad that you reviewed it so that I can talk about it. It’s so twisty, with interesting characters and the writing is like being drunk and high and manic! Wow….


    1. Abby, I’m so happy to hear that we both loved this! I totally agree that the writing was something new for me. Tara Isabella Burton did a fabulous job of really making the writing reflect some of the character’s mental states over the course of the story.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh yay, I’m so glad you liked it! I agree with absolutely everything you said. This book truly is a car crash you can’t look away from, and Louise has one of the most compelling character arcs ever.


  7. Having sat at the High Line at night and watched the stars, I was piqued for sure. I have a very difficult time understand narcissistic behavior. I mean I just don’t get it. Don’t know if I’d like this one because I would be mad the whole time, or if it would give me some much-needed insight.

    Liked by 1 person

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