Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gone Girl, a review

Last night I finished Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It seemed to be THE book of the summer, and contrary as always, I read it in the fall.

A friend of mine told me it was a great read, filled with lots of twists. I did indeed find plot turns at unexpected places, and the book itself had that elusive Compelling Factor that made me want to keep reading.

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed. For one thing, I couldn't emotionally connect with any of the characters except Boney, the police detective, and she was a background figure who appeared in only a few scenes. (I think I would have enjoyed the book much more if it had been told from her perspective, but perhaps it would have been a stretch.)

Maybe I'm too much of a traditionalist : I expected more of a cozier read, and Flynn instead offers a harrowing tale of marriage turned inside out. That's not a bad thing at all, and it betrays my own shortcoming, not Flynn's.

When Amy disappears, her husband, Nick, begins a search for her. The disappearance itself is strange, and it grows stranger as the book goes on. It is their wedding anniversary, and Amy always leaves him a scavenger hunt for his gift. In the book, the scavenger hunt is intertwined with the disappearance.

Amy herself is a wonderful creation. She was nothing like what I expected - she's no victim having the vapours, that much is for certain. And that is a wonderful, rare thing. What she is - what the reader thinks she is - gets turned on its head as the story progresses.

The ending is pure genius, but as I said, I never connected with any of the characters. I never read a chapter saying, "Oh no, oh no!" the way I would if I really loved the hero or the heroine. That's a biproduct of the twisty, turning plot, and I can understand that and the genius behind it, but the lack of connection was my visceral reaction.
Missouri, captured perfectly in the novel

As I said, it was compelling. I never wanted to stop reading it, which is a mark of an assured, professional writer. Flynn's prose is deft enough to bring you into several different worlds, from Manhattan to Missouri. I would recommend downloading the sample on Kindle to see if you like it first.

To be honest, I enjoyed Sax and the Suburb and Terps by Elaine Gannon much more (the second, alas, is out of print.) Sax is a jazzy murder mystery, and Terps is a tender, honest story of a marriage, and I was able to connect with the characters in those books right away. But I do appreciate Gone Girl as a completely different, new sort of detective story.


Holly Bryan said...

Hi Alison! I'm a big fan of yours :)

Sorry you didn't like this as much as you'd hoped. Your friend should have probably told you that Gillian Flynn writes very..."raw" stories. That is actually what I love most about her. I'm *really* looking forward to reading GONE GIRL, because I think she is a genius. But I can understand being taken aback by this novel if you hadn't read any of her others, like SHARP OBJECTS. Talk about harrowing... phew!

Have you ever read any Laura Lippman? I love her also - she's different from Flynn, to be sure! I'd say she's in between someone like Flynn and the true "cozy" mysteries (most of which are too tame for me). I bet you might like her :) She is from Baltimore and that is where her stories are set. She has a long-running series (with an awesome kick-butt female PI) and also some stand-alones. BALTIMORE BLUES is the first in the Tess Monaghan series. Check her out if you haven't read any of them and are looking for some great mysteries! http://www.lauralippman.com/all-books-in-order/

Alison DeLuca said...

Thanks, Holly! And what wonderful suggestions. That makes a lot of sense - I went into the book with a set of expectations, and I should adjust my mindset.

Actually, I do want to read Flynn's other books because she is so talented. I have not heard of Laura Lippman; I'll certainly look out for her novels as well.

Johanna Garth said...

I loved the book, but I like dark and uncomfortable instead of cozy. Wondering if you read Dare Me. I think that has been my favorite read of the year...so far.

Alison DeLuca said...

I really want to read Dare Me now, if you recommend it, Johanna!

Catherine Stine said...

Interesting, nuanced review. BTW, my post on your trilogy is up!