Publication Date: June 2018 from Bloomsbury
Source: Review Copy
Louise is struggling to survive in New York; juggling a series of poorly paid jobs, renting a shabby flat, being cat-called by her creepy neighbour, she dreams of being a writer. And then one day she meets Lavinia. Lavinia who has everything – looks, money, clothes, friends, an amazing apartment…
Lavinia invites Louise into her charmed circle, takes her to the best parties, bars, the opera, shares her clothes, her coke, her Uber account. Louise knows that this can’t last for ever, but just how far is she prepared to go to have this life? Or rather, to have Lavinia’s life?
A Ripley story for the Instagram age set in contemporary New York; a world at once sophisticated and sordid, irresistible and irresponsible, unforgettable yet unattainable…
I read Social Creature using the literary equivalent of watching a horror movie with a cushion over your face, peering out over the top of it. I was compelled ever onwards but almost didn’t want to look…
It starts off quietly enough – Louise has nothing and she meets Lavinia who has everything. Louise wants what Lavinia has and Lavinia is more than happy to give it to her. At first. Of course surface sparkle hides inner darkness and you can never really know the truth of someone else’s existence. As both girls spiral, the story goes down a sinister, utterly compelling, shiver inducing road that leaves you, when it is done, feeling disconcerted and off kilter.
This is a clever novel because it tells you everything and nothing. Louise is a stunningly nuanced character, through whose eyes most everything is filtered- when teamed up with the seemingly rich, spoiled, entitled Lavinia sparks fly and a whirlwind of social interaction, parties, drinking, drugs, all the things begins – this lifestyle is seemingly glamorous and expensively cheap, but Louise wants it and wants it for good. So when the cracks begin to show, there’s no telling what she will do to maintain it.
This novel is smart and manipulative in both character and plot, it explores many things and is written with an edgy, modern narrative style that really appealed to me. The occasional birds eye view, away from the fast paced lifestyle and slowly disintegrating state of this friendship,gives you a feeling of really seeing it play out, like a car crash you can’t take your eyes away from. Tara Isabella Burton paints an authentically scary portrait of how we can treat each other, both male and female, whilst the focus is on these two women, Social Creature is also a multiple character drama, with an incredibly realistic sense of the true invasion of social media and drawing the lines between the rich and the poor in a cleverly insightful way.
Overall I loved this one because of how incredibly uneasy it made me, how it didn’t pull any punches, how it built from a whisper to a crescendo then left you with that ending – it is quirky, cool and utterly terrifying really, I hated everyone in it but I loved them too.
Ignore the Ripley comparison and the Gone Girl comparison, Social Creature is a Social Creature – it will creep into your reading life and take it over, at least for a day. It certainly took over mine and I doubt that Louise or Lavinia will leave my head any time soon. This is one of those stories that will nag at me and nag at me, these are the ones I love.
Absolutely Highly Recommended.