Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

Social Creature

Tara Isabella Burton

Louise and Lavinia spiral into an intimate intense, and possibly toxic friendship after a chance encounter, against the glitz and glitter of New York City.

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"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.


Advance Galley Reviews

Loved the book cover and the book description was interesting. I really wanted to like this book, but I just could not feel anything for it. The writing felt like one big run-on sentence and I disliked the the main characters. The review by Emily Mitchell (Los Angeles) is exactly how I felt. In the end, this book landed on my DNF shelf at about 35%. Thank you for the chance to read this book. I sincerely hope others will enjoy this tale.

It was hard to believe some things about Louise's life - I was also a highly-educated girl in the NYC club scene & it was not that goddamn difficult to earn money doing legit jobs, even while partying all night - but I loved the mentions of actual places & the way her life organically spiraled out of control. I met girls like Lavinia pretty often & I could imagine myself getting sucked into their orbits. I liked the subtle use of different fonts to show social media without taking me out of the story. Some books get really precious with typography & outline & it's annoying. This felt like the way social media is integrated into life now. It was smart to have Louise not fall apart at the end & use social media to establish her alibi. Her hunger to belong also jumped off the page & I could really empathize with it. Ultimately, I liked the book & while it didn't have as surprising a twist as some of the books it's being billed with, I didn't really see it coming. It pulled me into the vapid literary & upper-end club scene in a somewhat sympathetic way & made me nostalgic for NYC. I'd give it 7 / 10.

This is the second book I've read in the last couple of years that should just be called "The Talented Mr. Rip-Off". Genuine Fraud was the other one. The moment you tell us that a book is like The Talented Mr. Ripley - which the blurb does - you basically spoil everything that happens for anyone who knows the plot of that book. But, to be honest, I don't think not knowing the plot of Social Creature could have saved it. I just don't get the hype. This was an unpleasant reading experience from start to finish. We are introduced to two blandly obnoxious characters called Louise and Lavinia. Louise is juggling several different jobs while struggling to pay the rent, until one day she meets a pampered socialite called Lavinia and gets dragged into a world of parties and drugs. Lavinia invites Louise to move in with her and the two become inseparable, with Louise becoming ever more obsessed with Lavinia and her life. Seeing as we are told in the beginning that Lavinia is dead, there's no points for guessing what happens to her. I’m all for intoxicating books that capture a whirlwind of events and emotions, but the world of this book felt like a fantasy version of New York City. These characters seem to exist in a bizarre vacuum where they drink and do drugs without reason or motivation for anything. Sleep all day; party all night. Rinse & repeat. I think the author was shooting for Gatsby but landed among Gossip Girl instead. The writing itself is exhausting to read. Louise’s inner narrative is a series of run-on sentences and comma splices, making it confusing and painful. It's a weird combination of frenetic writing style and slow pacing and I could not like it no matter how hard I tried. In the end, I just didn’t care what would happen to anybody. It was so dragged out and slow, taking us through party after party with these vapid and unbelievable characters (honestly, Lavinia is like a cartoon character), until the inevitable happens and then there's still another 100+ pages to get through. I really need to go read something fun now.

I couldn't get into this book. Too many twists and turns.

I just could not enjoy the way this story was written.

Tara Isabella Burton has written THE ultimate beach read for 2018. Part thriller-crime drama, part creepy-relationship drama, SOCIAL CREATURE is one of those books you alternatively want to chuck across the room and compulsively read into the wee hours. At times it is crude and nefarious, with lurid debauchery and lasciviousness, so much so you may feel like you need to shower after reading. Burton keeps it interesting with her wit and insight; she nails the millennial dialogue and social angst surrounding our society’s obsession with social media. Comparisons to Patricia Highsmith’s THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY are accurate, almost mirroring the tale in places, as the protagonist Louise Wilson behaves in Tom Ripley fashion and commits unspeakable crimes, desperate to stay relevant in the slippery Manhattan eco-climate. Overall this is a provocative look into the female psyche and a testament to how treacherous life for young women in their twenties can be - Its a dangerous world out there and this compelling story is sure to raise the hair on the back of your neck. I both loved and hated it and I sincerely hope there’s a sequel. Thanks to Penguin Random House for the digital ARC in exchange for a candid review.

It is very twisted but I loved it. It kept me engaged throughout and I both longed and dreaded finding out what would happen next with Lavinia and Louise. Burton's writing really takes the reader into the mind of the protagonist Louise even though you can't always decide if you're rooting for her to win or lose. The pacing of the novel fit the story really well and at no point did I feel that anything was rushed or dragged out. The plot of the novel and Louise's character development definitely screwed with my head but that's part of what I loved about it. It also makes me happy that I a) have never been surrounded by people from Lavinia's social class (that life just ain't for me) and b) that NYC didn't steal my soul. I will definitely look out for any future work of Burton's.

Thanks to First to Read for ARC of “Social Creature “. If you want “likable” characters this probably won’t be a favorite of yours. The book is full of characters with rich people problems , social climbers and stark empty lives ...so no surprise that you end up rooting for a killer. Not that the killer displays remorse but reveals some genuine human feelings. This cast of characters is so wrapped up in themselves that if they spared a thought for a supposed friend , they might figure out that something is not right. Social media particularly FB and texting craft the subterfuge. The most interesting aspect of the book was the exploration of unequal power in relationships ,how it can help and how it can destroy. I was glad to finish the book but it does provide “food for thought”.

This didn't quite live up to my expectations. It's an ok book, but the characters are impossible to connect to and the plot is repetitive and very nearly tedious. It falls short of every comparison I've seen to date. It's very simply 'ok'.

At the beginning of the book, Lavinia is 23 and Louise is 29. They met 10 days ago and Lavinia is taking Louise to a party. Louise is from New Hampshire and leads a boring life, supporting herself with three part time jobs, and has lived in the same crappy sublet in Queens for 8 years. Lavinia is rich, writing a novel, lives in a brownstone apartment on the upper east side and is the most exciting thing that has happened to Louise. These two insufferable women go from one unbearable party after another. I can't remember when I have detested two characters more and that includes serial killers. These vapid, narcissistic creatures literally made me gag. I read 88 pages and couldn't care less what happens to them in the rest of the book. I received a free copy of the book from the publisher.

Definitely a 5 star book!! A rush of glitter and glam, with a touch of Kardashian side-eye, this novel grabs you from the start with Lavinia's manic energy and never lets go. Burton captures the self-absorbed, emoji-laden world of excess in fine detail. Photos, filters, check-ins, likes – nothing happens unless it happened on social media. It is a peculiarity of the American culture that so many females are people pleasers paired with the diametrically opposed anger to destroy others. But just like social media, we only show our good side to the world. So it goes for Louise. Anyone who's ever felt like they aren't worthwhile, doubted their abilities, or held the pessimistic view that no matter what they do it's all going to go wrong anyway will find a piece of themselves in the pathetically identifiable portrayal of Louise – at least until the book takes a darker turn. I loved that this book did not follow the current trend in thrillers of following multiple characters through multiple timelines to hide a grand surprise twist. In fact, just following Louise was enough "Oh, no, she didn't!" For me. The thrill was in what comes next? Will she get away with it? Won't someone notice?! A great updated version of Patricia Highsmith that makes me want to go back and re-read The Talented Mr. Ripley (or at least watch Matt Damon and Jude Law again).

A great read! Had me turning the pages, totally engrossed. I also loved I had no idea how it was going to end until it did. I've seen it compared to the Talented Mr. Ripley. I'm going to have to check that out next just to see for myself. Added The Destroyer to my TBR list (short story with Tor) and want to read more by this author. A 5-star read.

The lives that others lead may seem enticing when compared to your own, but the secrets you don't see might change your mind. In Social Creatures by Tara Isabella Burton two young women's lives will be forever altered by the bond that forms between their very different lives.  Louise hasn't had an easy life, working endlessly to make ends meet. Lavinia has had led a privileged life, but she's battled her own demons despite the outward appearance of an easy life. After a fortuitous meeting brings Louise and Lavinia together, the two become inseparable and entangled in a toxic relationship. While Lavinia offers Louise an opportunity to experience some of the finer aspects of life, the pair become increasingly and dangerously dependent upon one another - Louise for the financial benefits a friendship with Lavinia offers and Lavinia for the caretaking skills that Louise invariably provides to maintain her access to the life of excess. When things go too far and their relationship is threatened Louise fights to maintain the life she's now become accustomed to. A slow build toward a quick spiral down into dark, depraved depths, the narrative is equal parts disturbing and fascinating. Providing a glimpse into the lives of the affluent others through the vehicle of an "ordinary" person, this story demonstrates the tangled webs woven throughout the social structure of the so-called elite with an intimate and entertaining tale of intrigue. Through the narration style, the reader becomes complicit in Louise's acts, unable to stop them as Louise is unable to stop herself, which is an interesting tactic to engage readers. While characters don't necessarily need to be likable and a certain amount of frustration can be good, the characters in this novel were often simply too frustrating for me to really connect with them to fully enjoy the narrative.  Overall, I'd give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Holy crap. This book is nuts

I just couldn’t bring myself to like this one, & I wanted to. I found the characters shallow, vapid, & uninteresting & the story unbelievable. Just mot for me in any way.

For some reason this book keeps freezing on the first page. I've tried deleting it and downloading it again but I keep having the same problem. This is the only book that I've encountered problems with in the First to Read program. I guess I will just have to grab a copy of this book when it actually comes out!

Social Creature is like The Secret History‘s beach-read cousin. It follows the story of Louise, a down on her luck aspiring writer in New York City who meets the rich and glamorous Lavinia, and the two form a sort of dysfunctional, obsessive friendship which is barreling toward tragedy, as we’re told from the onset that Lavinia is going to end up dead. I don’t think I’ve ever described a book as ‘intoxicating’ before (and in fact I tend to roll my eyes at that descriptor), but that’s the word I keep coming back to with Social Creature. This book is intoxicating. Just like Louise, the reader is pulled into the glitz and glamour of Lavinia’s carefree socialite lifestyle, ignoring the glaring warning signs about the unhealthy and obsessive road she’s going down. With all the inevitability of a Greek tragedy, this is a story that ends terribly for absolutely everyone involved. But it’s addicting and utterly impossible to look away. Social Creature doesn’t have the same flawless prose or pervasive intellectualism as The Secret History, so maybe its vaguely pretentious tone is unearned, but it does have all the unlikable characters, and the same cautionary tale against indulging too heavily in the fairytale of living an impossibly elite lifestyle. On the surface Social Creature is a fun thriller and a rather addictive beachy read, but underneath it’s rather bleak and sad and tragic. I think what haunts me the most about this book is how much I related to Louise at the beginning of it, and how harrowing it was to watch everything spiral out of control for her. This book is like a train wreck that you can’t look away from, but for whatever reason, that’s my favorite kind of story.

Louise has lived in a roach infested, rent controlled, sublet in Brooklyn for the last 8 years. She thought she was going to be a great writer but instead she is working three jobs and barely making rent. Each morning she looks in the mirror and tells herself "Today is the first day of the rest of your life." A chance encounter with Lavinia, a wealthy and zealous socialite from Manhattan, quickly turns into an intense and toxic friendship. Louise, seduced by Lavinia's vivaciousness and privileged lifestyle, finds herself spiraling out of control...but she knows what she needs to do. This is one of those novels that have been generating a lot of publicity so I was very excited to read it. That being said I also had really high expectations and giving a 3 star rating is probably being generous for me. The plot was interesting, the cover was beautiful, but the plot just didn't appeal to me. I really wanted to love this one, and I'm sure many readers will, but it just didn't work for me personally. The main reason I didn't love this novel is because I found most of the characters to be obnoxious and unlikeable. The characters felt so chaotic and exhausting that I found myself wanting to take a nap instead of continuing to the next chapter. I'm not sure if the explicit material was meant to be erotic or shocking, as the plot hints at obsessive and seductive, but it felt forced and honestly a bit offensive at times...I'm not a prude by any means. I will say that about half way through, the plot became more engaging and I was finally able to finish it. Overall I felt the hype surrounding this one left me feeling pretty disappointed. I think it will be interested to see how it is received by other readers once published.

When you start this book make sure you have lots of free time.. You will not be able to put this down! This book was fun, but took a creepy turn. You found yourself cheering for the villain then feeling bad for her, then being so repulsed by her, it was a wild ride. I found the third person narrative odd but it kept me on my toes. The ending left me speechless. I found it to be a quick read. Makes you really think about who you let into your inner circle,

What a read! Thank you First to Read for allowing me to read and review Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton. This is the kind of books I love as disturbing as that sounds. I have to say the first 40 pages slowed me down but once I got pass that I really got into this dark read. I liked all but 2 characters. Louise is your favorite on and off and boy did she have to keep up with her character. Lavinia is just a spoiled selfish unlikable character and she steps on people to get her way. This is about 2 friends friendship that turns into an obsession and you'll have to read this to figure out who, but you'll go back n forth in your mind how both are just like the other. Who is really the bad friend? Who is really obsessed with who? This is oh so good, plus add social media and some weird friends, I was on the edge of my seat reading this wondering where things would end. This book will stay with me a long time and so will the ending. This will be published in June of 2018. And I thank First To Read for the ARC. Cherie'

The narration (which was like first and third person mixed together) was very interesting to read, although, I felt very disconnected from the main character. All we got were bits and pieces of her old life. I would have liked to see that a little more. All the characters were unlikeable, which I'm sure was the point. The story was very intense up until the part where Lavinia dies. After that, the plot has no direction and so the story drags on. I was expecting something a little darker (especially saying that this book is for fans of Gillian Flynn.) Personally, this book wasn't my cup of tea, but I was still able to finish it so my rating would be 3 stars.

I'm torn between three and fours stars on this one. On the one hand there is a really compelling story line, on the other hand it's full of very unlikable characters. But I do believe it was the author's intent for them to be unlikable, so job well done, just not really my cup of tea. I did fly through this as, I mentioned the story is really very compelling, and the writing also made it really easy. In the end I just wasn't sure of the main character's motivation. She was a bit blank throughout the story, with very small tidbits of foreboding thrown in, which I loved because I thought she would come together in a very big way in the end. Just didn't feel like that happened and I am left really, really needing some kind of backstory for her.

This book twisted my head around. We meet the subject of the book (she’s not narrating) but it feels like we are meant to identify with her and her feelings of not fitting in, being left outside the great times happening around her in NYC. We see glimpses of her past and a relationship that didn’t work out, but we never get beyond the glimpses to the full picture. The focal point is her relationship with Laviania who mesmerizes her and respulses her at the same time. Are they friends? Is Louise being manipulated or is she manipulating? Much of the book is trying to unravel truth from perception. About half way through the book, it turns into a different genre as the plot heads in an unexpected direction. I enjoyed the book and rooted for the main subject, Louise at the beginning then spent the rest of the book trying to figure her out. It’s a microcosm of friends and frenemies, social status, early adult drama and trying to set lives on the right course. It doesn’t. That’s the hook. Great book.

Unfortunately I was not able to really enjoy the story after a certain point. *Spoiler Alert* I kept thinking up reasons why the main character would have been caught, or how things were beyond the scope of reasonable thinking. I really dislike writing a negative review on a first time book writer, but I really think this story could have really benefited from some really creative story telling, instead of the main character covering her tracks with Facebook posts, texts, and a fake road trip. The suspense at the end builds, and then the book just ends with no satisfaction. It just feels unfinished to me.

A fantastic debut for Tara Isabella Burton! A timeless story of obsession and social climbing updated for the modern age. You don't have to be a 20-something New Yorker to enjoy this twisted tale of friendship gone horribly wrong. Louise is a Machiavellian character. How far will she go to get everything she's always desperately wanted? The book definitely reminded me of The Talented Mr. Ripley. Highly recommended.

I enjoyed this book. I really loved how the story flowed. It was very smooth from beginning to end and kept me wondering how long Louise was going to be able to get away with murdering her roommate. It's a book that leaves you wanting more. I would have loved to read on and learned what happened to the characters after Louise fled. Maybe a book two?

Watermark across every page made the copy I received unreadable. Disappointing

The book jacket promises “For readers of Gillian Flynn and Donna Tartt, a dark, propulsive and addictive debut thriller”, unfortunately I did not find this and I was so looking forward to that, being a Gillian Flynn fan, having read all of her books. I really enjoy a great thriller but just didn’t find it in this particular book. For me, the characters were too annoying, self absorbed, and narcissistic. I don’t like to leave a review like this, so I am glad to see that my view is in the minority here. Thank you to First To Read for my ARC.

This book is awesome. I loved the style of the writing and the characters. They were all so intriguing, even through all of the messiness of their lives. I will definitely recommend this book to everyone!

 


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