Review: Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

June 19, 2018
Social Creature, Tara Isabella Burton, Book Review, InToriLex
Published By: Doubleday on June 5, 2018
Format Read: ARC Edition (273 pages)
Genre: Thriller/ Contemporary/ Mystery
Series: Stand Alone
Source: Publisher Request
Social Creature
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.


Content Warning: Drug Use, Suicide, Self Harm, Violence, Murder, Sexual Assault, Graphic Sex Acts, Mental Illness


Toxic friendship mixed with champagne and money, sounded like a great read to me. I'm familiar with the A Talented Mr. Ripley which the blurb mentions, so I knew way to much of how this story would unfold. Lavinia is a  rich troubled woman who is taking time off from college to pretend she's writing a book, while her parents support her. Louise is a SAT tutor who meet's Lavinia by chance when she comes by her house to tutor he little sister. Louise and Lavinia quickly become joined at the hip and participate in lots of drinking, partying and doing drugs. The frenzied pacing of the book is told from Louise perspective as a fish out of water, but it give way too much away, leaving no buildup for what happens later.
Louise leans her head on Lavinia's shoulder. Lavinia squeezes her hand.
Louise thinks: we cannot be know and loved at the same time.
Louise and Lavinia are unlikable characters. I can root for characters who make bad choices but there wasn't enough character development to determine what motivate their behavior. This thriller had little to no suspense because your clued in to what will happen very early on in the book. Louise past was mysterious but in the book the sparse clues we have to her past were not enlightening. I enjoy reading about female friendships but the pretentious side characters and conflict never added the pizazz that this book needed.
There's a reason people are able to function, in this world, as social creatures and a good part of that reason is that there are a lot of questions you're better off not knowing the answer to, and if you're smart you won't even ask.
The plot line was not entirely original and I was happy when I finished this book to never think about these characters again. If you like thrillers with whacky party elements and dark characters you may enjoy this. However I couldn't relate with the character and there was little to no thrills involved with this thriller.

Recommended for Readers who
-enjoy books that incorporate our society's social media obsession
-like violent plot driven novels
-can roll with unlikable characters while reading


 Tara Isabella Burton has followed a female hermit into the remote Caucasus, gotten love amulets from Turkish Islamic shamans, and held signs with the street preachers of Las Vegas.

Her work on religion, culture, and place can be found at National Geographic, The Wall Street Journal, Al Jazeera, The Economist's 1843, Aeon, The BBC, The Atlantic, The American Interest, Salon, The New Statesman, The Telegraph, and more. Her fiction has appeared at The New Yorker's Daily Shouts, Great Jones Street, Tor.com, PANK, Shimmer, and other places. She has received The Spectator's 2012 Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize and a 2016 Lowell Thomas Award.

​Her first novel, Social Creature, is forthcoming from Doubleday (US) and Bloomsbury/Raven (UK) in June 2018, and will be translated into nine more languages, including Italian, French, and Russian. She is also working on a non-fiction book about new religious and "replacement religion" movements, Strange Rites: Cults and Subcultures After the Death of God, to be published by Public Affairs in 2019.

Tara recently completed a doctorate in theology as a Clarendon Scholar at Trinity College, Oxford. She is currently a staff writer on the religion beat at Vox.


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