Social Creature

A Novel
Narrated by: Saskia Maarleveld
Length: 8 hrs and 43 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (203 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

One of the best books of the year: Janet Maslin, The New York Times, Vulture, NPR. 

"Social Creature is a wicked original with echoes of the greats (Patricia Highsmith, Gillian Flynn)." (Janet Maslin, The New York Times)

For listeners 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.

©2018 Tara Isabella Burton (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Dark, stylish...Burton's exceptional character work further elevates the tale; every individual is both victim and villain, imbuing their interactions with oceans of emotional subtext and creating conflict that propels the book toward its shocking yet inevitale conclusion...At once a thrilling and provocative crime novel, a devastating exploration of female insecurity, and a scathing indictment of society's obsession with social media." (Kirkus)

"Fans of the cult classic Poison Ivy will appreciate the mousy girl-wild girl dynamic on display in Burton's fiendishly clever debut...An ingenious dark thriller in the Patricia Highsmith Tom Ripley mode...This devious, satisfying novel perfectly captures a very narrow slice of the Manhattan demimonde." (Publishers Weekly)

"This fast-paced, stylish, dialogue- and character-driven debut...will definitely ensnare readers. Diabolically playing on what we think we know about others and what we reveal about ourselves in the social-media age, it will give readers the creeps, too." (Booklist)

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

An uncomfortable listen

There are two main characters. One talks in a whisper, the other mostly yells. I adjusted the volume constantly for most of the book because the voice actor used such different tones for the two main voices. The writer isn't Shakespeare but it was clear who was talking from the text alone, I didn't need the melodrama.

The text was fine, it was a mediocre thriller novel.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wow!

It builds and builds and builds. Excellent writing and perfect narrator. Can’t wait for this author’s next novel.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Something Rotten in the Selfie Set

A fantastic drama about postmodern excess inside a dark and cynical world of privilege. I loved the staccato style of dialogue. ❤💯⚠💀👀👍😎😋🍑🍆

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

uncomfortable

This is an interesting book about very flawed people. Although it is somewhat entertaining, I did not like the characters enough to want anything positive to happen to them. The book wonders from one bad decision to the next but I didn't care about the people, it just bothered me that it was spiraling downwards.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Updated "Talented Mr. Ripley"

Very reminiscent of "The Talented Mr. Ripley" with a gender switch and a current time frame. ( Social media is a major tool in deception.) This is a story where no one is likeable or sympathetic, and everyone seems to live only for partying. A twisted story about pretty awful people.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Wow

This was amazing. The story, the writing, the acting, I loved all of it. I’d read a sequel.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Entertaining and fun

I thought this book was entertaining and fun. Great setting, and fun details. Overall it was a little predictable, and certainly a story that we've all heard before (Talented Mr. Ripley, as others have mentioned, and which is a better book), but I liked the female perspective and the New York locale. A fun summer audiobook.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

This is Ridiculous

This book is silly. It is not the least bit believable, and not a single character is particularly likeable, nor is there really any character development. However, it's still a fun read. You know what you're getting into pretty quickly because right away, every character is ridiculous, from the way they talk, to the way they act, to the absurd parties they attend.

This book seems to be trying to be a mix of a modern Great Gatsby and your classic modern thriller, a la Alice Feeney's Sometime I Lie, or, perhaps more aptly, Caroline Kepnes's You. This doesn't quite work for a few reasons. The first is that Burton's attempt at a modern Great Gatsby is not quite modern enough, making the dialogue so incredibly stilted as to be ridiculous. The second is that Burton relies on the decadence in the world she's built to fill in the stark prose instead of more useful things like character development and a plausible plot.

The third thing is that Burton's characterization--especially of Louise--is somewhat lazy. We know that Louise hates herself, but we never really know why. Things happen in Louise's past that seem to have been life-alteringly awful, but we never get a clear picture of what they were. Lavinia is equally, if not more messed up than Louise, but we don't know why, and we certainly don't know why everyone seems to love her anyway. It's never clear what Cordelia's deal is, or what Hal's deal is, or Rex, or Mimi, or anyone. No one's motivations are understandable because not one character is more than a two-dimensional caricature.

Also, there's this weird use of the second person, and, toward the end, the fourth person. Who is 'you,' and who are 'we'? From where are 'we' observing all this? It never really made sense, and it smacked of the author just trying to do something--anything--different. And there are a few (okay, several) logic holes that kind of nagged at me. Things that an editor should have caught. There are points at which Burton seems to be self-aware, as if she knows how ridiculous and thin the whole things is--she's 'in on the joke,' so to speak. But the 'joke' is not sustainable across an entire novel.

All that being said, I still found this book entertaining. It's light, predictable fun. The narrator, Saskia Maarleveld, is quite good. As other reviewers have noted, her voice for Lavinia is grating, but I think that suits the character--Lavinia herself is grating. However, it isn't fun to listen to, so I take a star off from performance. If you don't want to listen to needlessly crude language and graphic depictions of sex that, at times, border on hedonistic, go ahead and pass on this one. If you can live with that, and are in the mood for an easy read (or listen) where you're not too invested in the characters because there's not much to them, and you happen to have an extra credit you don't mind spending, maybe give this one a shot.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Save Your Ears

The narration is muffled and every other line is being yelled into your ears. Plus all of the male voices are loud caricatures that almost forced me to give up on the book every time they spoke.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Awkward literary narrative device distracts from story

The audio narration of this book was spot on and captured these unlikeable characters perfectly.
However, the literary narrative format was awkward. The narration is third-person, semi-omniscient except when the author “breaks the fourth wall” and inserts her own voice. That is, we see the actions of all the characters from some central narrator and learn some of the feelings and thoughts of Louise. Then the narrator will bust In and say something ominous like “so and so is about to die.” I couldn’t find a legitimate reason for this 4th-wall breaking narration style. I was hoping that there might be some twist where this was a witty literary device used to propel the story forward. But no such luck.