“Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn


I was sort of afraid to read Gone Girl. Except for one or two dissenting voices, all the reviews I’d read, and all the things I’d heard from friends were “It’s great!” I wanted to read it, sure, but had not yet got around to it, and the longer it went on, the more the hype filled me with dread. Then when it was chosen as a contender for this year’s Tournament of Books, and when it went on to be the odds-on favorite (now I can’t find the betting site, but it’s out there somewhere), I knew it was time. Of course, by this time, the library list was a gazillion people long. (OK, exaggerating a bit. Only 1000+). Then my kind husband got it for me for my birthday, and it was finally TIME. Yippee, I thought, time for a thumping good read! (with just a whisper of “I hope” after that.)

Then I began to read, and as you may know, it’s structured in alternating points of view between the husband and his missing wife. And their marriage is a train wreck, and as the chapters go on I can’t believe their marriage lasted this long, and reading about it is sort of entertaining, but also painful, and I couldn’t really be said to be enjoying myself.

Stay with it, said friends when I griped on Facebook. Then on page 219, when the book goes into its second section, things changed up. I knew something wacky was going on in those first 200 pages, but not exactly what, and then things shift, and at that point, I may have resented breathing because it interfered with me finding out how this author was going to pull off the end of the book. And she did, which is saying a lot, because this is one whacked-out book.

So to sum up (feeling v. pleased with self at lack of spoilers): first half was like a car wreck–messy, ugly but rather fascinating. Second half was like going downhill on a roller coaster. Psychological characterizations were very good–we knew why these characters behaved in certain ways. Plot was very good, especially in the 2nd half. So it reminded me of the best parts of the Tana French novels (the psyche stuff) combined with the best part of Laura Lippmann’s books (un-put-downable).

That said, I’m not sure I’d recommend it far and wide. Not everyone wants to spend time with a psychopath. Both The Fault in Our Stars and Where’d You Go, Bernadette have a wider appeal, I think. Not sure I’d pick it for the ToB win, either. I continue to hope The Orphan Master’s Son goes all the way. BUT, entertaining as all get out and well executed on many levels, and with intriguing questions about male/female dynamics. So, highly recommended.

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