One of the Best Books of the Year:
Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"Social Creature is a wicked original with echoes of the greats (Patricia Highsmith, Gillian Flynn)." —Janet Maslin, The New York Times
For readers of Gillian Flynn and Donna Tartt, a dark, propulsive and addictive debut thriller, splashed with all the glitz and glitter of New York City.
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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
At first, Social Creature seems to be just another 21st-century thriller with a flawed young heroine at its center. But Tara Isabella Burton’s debut novel has a vintage feel that's as much Patricia Highsmith as it is Gillian Flynn. Aspiring writer Louise is mesmerized by her new pal Lavinia's casually opulent lifestyle, but then her FOMO takes a murderous turn. Burton's gleefully mordant wit owes a clear debt to Highsmith's sociopathic antihero Tom Ripley, but her focus on social media–driven obsession feels devilishly up-to-the-minute.
Fans of the cult classic Poison Ivy will appreciate the mousy girl wild girl dynamic on display in Burton's fiendishly clever debut. At 29, insecure Louise Wilson is a would-be writer living in fear of the dictum, "if you haven't made it in New York by 30, you never will." All that changes when she meets 23-year-old socialite Lavinia Williams, who seems to be channeling the free spirit of the late Zelda Fitzgerald (with flapper dresses to match). Larger-than-life Lavinia takes Louise under her wing and introduces her new bestie to a Manhattan she never knew existed, including parties in haunted hotels and secret bookstores and people with names like Beowulf Marmont and Athena Maidenhead, all the while dressing as if for a costume ball that never ends. Only later does Louise experience the hateful, spiteful, jealous side of Lavinia's personality in what becomes an ingenious dark thriller in the Patricia Highsmith Tom Ripley mode. Louise and Lavinia are bold, brilliant characters. This devious, satisfying novel perfectly captures a very narrow slice of the Manhattan demimonde.
The book is well written which is why I gave it 3 stars, but the story itself was a bit lackluster. It always seemed like the narration was better suited to describe a nightmare of a dream as there seemed to be so many detailed variables that didn’t go anywhere.
But I hope for a sequel or just a more conclusive end…
I wanted it to be good, but it just wasn’t. Unbelievable characters and they were all very easy to dislike. The parties, the money, the way they spoke - all just unbelievable. It was clear that the author is British (not anything wrong with that) but the story supposedly took place in NYC and it just wasn’t. I made it to the end, but disappointed in the whole thing. She writes beautifully but the story was just BAD.