Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton – Review

Title: Social Creature

Author: Tara Isabella Burton

Genre: Fiction, Psychological Thriller

Publisher: Doubleday

Summary : from Amazon

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 underground speakeasies, the opera, shares her clothes, her drugs, 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?


I’ve been wanting to read this book since I first heard about it so my hopes and expectations were pretty high and for the most part they were met! First off I just have to say how perfect the name Lavinia is for her character. It’s a name that instantly makes me think of a certain type of flighty, beautiful, party loving ‘it-girl’ which to a certain degree anyway is exactly what Lavinia is. When we first meet Louise her life is honestly pretty depressing and lonely in a way that I think a lot of millennials can relate to in a world where the life that seems to matter most is the one you are seen to be living online. Once Louise has met Lavinia, which happens early on in the book, she is swept into the Great Gatsby-esque world of superficial people and superficial parties. I honestly don’t know if people exist in the real world who are like Lavinia – I think they must, but I’ve never experienced anyone like that! It certainly makes for a fascinating story as Louise becomes more and more dependent on and obsessed with Lavinia. The reader can tell pretty quickly however that things are not going to end well. There is something sinister to the atmosphere of the book almost from the beginning. Mimi, who is a previous ‘best friend’ of Lavinia’s, is ever-present as a sort of warning of how Lavinia picks people up and then drops them when she gets bored. Mimi’s desperation for Lavinia to bring her back into the fold is almost painful in how pathetic it is.

Social creature goes from a Great Gatsby place into far more of a Single White Female/Talented Mr Ripley territory about halfway through and this is the sort of book that is compelling enough to be read in a single sitting because of it’s intensity. This book is written with a detached almost clinical style and is full of short direct sentences. I really liked this tone and think that it worked beautifully for this story and it’s relatively short length. If this had been a longer novel the way it is written could have become a bit much but it was perfect for the characters of Social Creature. Speaking of the characters – this is certainly one of those books with very few truly likeable characters but that’s not something that bothers me if the story is intriguing enough which in this case I feel it is. The story has a kind of frenetic, addictive quality to it which kept me totally hooked until the very end. I was torn about my feelings on the ending but I think it did suit the narrative.

Overall I really enjoyed Social Creature. I think it’s a really clever and unpredictable novel with so much moral ambiguity and so many grey areas. It is a psychological thriller in many ways and also raises interesting points about social media and the way people put their entire personal lives out there on the internet for the whole world to see.


I received this e-arc from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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