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Knowledge of our past is our inheritance. What we do with that knowledge will shape our destinies...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Book Review: Gone Girl

I finally read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Took me long enough, right? This was the most-reviewed book on Goodreads.com in 2013 (I think). I mean, we're talking something like 28,000 reviews. (Holy crap!) And recently a film version came out, which I have not seen. I might watch it eventually, but I'm not in any big hurry to.

Plot: This is your basic wife-disappears, husband-becomes-prime-suspect story. Been done a thousand times, right? But the reason it was such a successful novel is that there's a major twist on it. It's hard to tell whether the husband, Nick, did something to his wife, Amy. Even when we get chapters from his POV, it's unclear. He's definitely hiding things from the cops, and also the reader, so you feel compelled to keep reading to find out what he's hiding, and whether he really hurt Amy.

POV: The point of view oscillates between Nick's first person narrative and diary entries from Amy, leading up to when she disappeared. As it's a diary, they are also in the first person. I'm not usually a huge fan of doing multiple first-person narratives, but in this case it was so well-done, it didn't bother me. Diary entries can also be tricky to write, but Flynn is a master at her craft and it truly didn't feel any different than any other well-written narrative would. 

Characters: Neither of these characters--husband or wife--was particularly likable. They were both majorly flawed, and obviously their marriage suffered for it. That made them both believable and compelling, but I reiterate: unlikable. I had really mixed feelings about the characters. They were both incredibly frustrating at times. I had a really hard time getting behind either one of them. Villainous characters don't need to be likable, but I'm a firm believer that main characters should be. I was obviously compelled enough to finish the book, but I would never say that I loved it, or that I loved the characters because, yeah I didn't.

Psychological Aspects: Okay, here's the crux of my problem with the book, which happens to coincide with why it's become such a phenomenon. The psychological aspects (read: psycho) are what makes the book so intriguing. We get these really flawed character studies, see these mind games that were played within the marriage, and then as the readers, we have to try and translate that into whether or not Nick did something violent to his wife. I totally understand why this book has been so talked about.

That said, I really didn't like it much. First of all, it was very negative. And I don't just mean the subject matter. Both characters were very pessimistic. Like, they would work hard to find the worst side of everything. Now don't get me wrong, it was very well-written. Kudos to the author. But I would be reading and just think, Wow. No wonder you're so miserable! Just once can you try to look on the bright side of things, or at least not go out of your way to be so cynical? It was actually really annoying. Like I said earlier, just really unlikable characters. No redeeming qualities at all. And I get it: that was the point. But it doesn't make for a very inspiring story.

It also is about the worst, darkest, most terrible picture of a marriage you'll ever come across. The worst kinds of abuse (and not just physical), the worst kinds of name calls two people can call one another, the worst, most un-loving, un-intimate sex you can imagine in a marriage. Etc., etc. 

Content Warning: And while we're on the subject, I'll add that this was a very R-rated book. These two called one another every swear word in the English language, both out loud and in their heads. There was a lot of sexual content and also some mild violence. I definitely wouldn't recommend it for kids, or even teens.

Ending: This definitely doesn't have a "happy" ending. And please understand, that is not a spoiler. I don't mean it's unhappy like, someone dies or, it's oh-so-tragic. Rather, it just really doesn't have a closed ending. Nothing really gets resolved. And where normally the reader would feel betrayed because we stuck with the story so long and then were denied closure, I didn't even feel that way about it. I think, because the story itself was about a messed-up situation, complete with mind games, she wanted the ending to be the same way. And honestly, the ending kind of fit. But for me, I just kind of went, Huh. And moved on. Was kind of relieved to be done, actually.

Overall: As I said earlier, I didn't not like it. I'm glad I read it. But it's not the kind of book you can describe as having "liked." It just wasn't that kind of book. If you like the dark, psychological types of stories (again I'm going to stress the no redeeming qualities angle) then you'll probably enjoy it. It's not the type of book I would recommend to...just about anyone, though. I prefer my stories to have at least some hope and enlightenment, and that was largely missing from this one. 

Has anyone read Gone Girl? Seen the film? What did you think of it?


  1. I read the book when it first came out and thought 2/3 of it were brilliant. The ending, however, was ridiculous, in my opinion. And I agree with you, neither character was very likeable. I'm glad that I received this book from a publisher to review because I wouldn't have been very happy with it if I had paid full price.

    1. I agree. I'm glad I read it, just to say that I did and kind of understand all the discussion, but I got it from the library myself. Glad I didn't pay either. Thanks for stopping by Debra! :D