Hypnoman (Bayside, NY)
In Gillian Flynn’s brilliant new book Gone Girl we take an exaggerated look at a society obsessed with getting the edge at all costs. Most of us are flawed, granted, and have experienced feelings of rage, disappointment, second guessing, or confusion within a relationship. Even hatred and a thirst for revenge if hurt badly enough.
During the roller coaster of a ride into the minds of Amy and Nick, the level of premeditated manipulation and spin control is truly astounding, almost hard to believe. That’s what makes the book so much fun. We, as readers, can’t get a strong foothold on reality. We are being constantly manipulated. Just as the sleazy divorce lawyer and the social media pundits manage the TRUTH to their own agenda. For those who were frustrated by the ending, having the LAST WORD as uttered by Amazing Amy is really the beginning of a new chapter. And yes, there should have been a more discriminating use of the F word and C word (the overuse of profanity was a slight distraction for me). But any book that has me laughing out loud, dazzled by the dexterity of the written word, and constantly keeping me guessing and off balance is worthy of the highest rating. I’ve read all of Gillian Flynn’s books and this is her best.
It can sound condescending when people declare a book is “not for everyone”, as if what they’re REALLY implying is that it’s only for people who are as smart, deep and perspicacious as they are. So I hope prospective readers of Gone Girl will take this in the spirit it’s intended when I say that this book truly *isn’t* for everyone!
Even as I was devouring this book in greedy gulps, loving every brilliantly crafted sentence and mentally ranking it near the top of my ‘favorite books of the past decade…’ list, I was aware that Gone Girl wouldn’t work for all my fellow readers, and I completely understand why.
At the risk of generalizing, this might not be for you if…:
1) You enjoy only ‘cozy’ whodunit mysteries. I’m among the biggest cozy mystery fans ever; my Kindle is brimming over with a ridiculous number of them. I even read and enjoy the Murder, She Wrote series (*cringe*), so clearly I’m not above choosing fluffy brain candy over grittier, darker literary fare. Be forewarned, though, that this isn’t a classic whodunit in the vein of Murder, She Wrote or my beloved Agatha Christie. If you’re averse to mysteries with profanity, true darkness and a less-than-tidy resolution, this decidedly UN-cozy thriller might not be for you.
2) If you need characters to be lovable and admirable—and that’s a totally valid preference, despite what some other reviews have implied—then this book is emphatically not for you. I found Flynn’s characters exceptionally well-drawn, compelling and layered. Slightly exaggerated reflections of our darker selves, in fact…but suffice it to say “lovable” is not an adjective that springs to mind!
3) This book’s journey is so thrilling and fascinating that I wasn’t overly concerned with the ‘destination’ (i.e., the ending). And when that ending did arrive, I found it far more fitting than the reviews had led me to believe it would be. Once I further pondered the ending and the chapters leading up to it—and this is a book you can’t help but ponder—I upgraded my opinion of the ending to ‘grudgingly impressive.’ But if you’re someone who judges mysteries only by how tidily they’re resolved, expecting everyone to get what they justly deserve (and many of us mystery fans do feel that way, which is fine) then, again, this book is probably not for you.
So who DO I think might love this book even a fraction as ardently as I did? Glad you asked…
1) If you place a high value on writing style. Gone Girl gave my Kindle’s highlight button quite a rigorous workout. Gillian Flynn’s prose, dialogue and general flair for language borders on the sublime. It’s interesting to note that even many of the one-star reviews acknowledge that this book is exceptionally well written. If writing style factors heavily into your overall enjoyment of a book, I’d hit that tempting orange “buy” button immediately!
2) If you want a book that’s eminently thrilling, clever and just plain readable, yet also has a sneaky amount of depth and insight. As others have noted, this book is as much an exploration of relationships and the question of whether we ever *truly* know anyone (including ourselves) as it is a mystery—and a startlingly perceptive, “wow, she really GETS it” one at that.
3) If you’re craving a book which proves that ‘literary thriller’ is not necessarily an oxymoron (ah, finally we get to the title of this longer than expected review!)
In short (too late!), Gone Girl may not be for everyone, but it captured my book-obsessed heart like few others have. It’s resonant and thought-provoking and a whole lot of witty fun, albeit fun of the dark and warped variety. It’s beautifully, brilliantly written without ever being didactic or pretentious. Gone Girl has stuck with me for days, and it begs to be reread even now that the “what will happen next?!” suspense is gone.