Hype, lived up to

As I rapidly approach what can only be called middle age (gulp), I do not think I am becoming more conservative in my personal or political views. If anything, I’m heading in the opposite direction. I am, however, developing a serious contrarian streak, which means if some book or movie is nearly universally praised by the people and media outlets to which I pay attention, a strong inner resistance kicks in. Which is why I haven’t seen Brokeback Mountain, or The Artist. And why I haven’t read Jonathan Franzen, or Ann Patchett. I would probably enjoy or be enlightened by them if I did. I just don’t want to succumb to my own self-constructed framework of cultural peer pressure.

Yeah, I know. That doesn’t make any sense.

Fortunately, I had other reasons to take a look at Gillian Flynn’s latest novel, Gone Girl, which is accomplishing that rare trifecta of critical acclaim, genre respect and bestseller status. I read her first novel, Sharp Objects, because a friend recommended it and because she was a writer for Entertainment Weekly, a magazine I like lot. Sharp Objects kept me up very late reading it, the very definition of a page-turner, even though its genre (thriller) isn’t my usual thing.

Gone Girl, as you may have read in several other places, has the same page-turning quality but Flynn has gotten better, fiendish in her plotting and almost unbearably smart in her characterizations. The unbearable-ness comes from the points of view of the characters themselves, especially Nick Dunne, who is suspected of doing away with his wife, Amy, after she disappears on their fifth wedding anniversary. Nick’s real-time first-person account is interspersed with entries from Amy’s diary from the previous seven years, tracking their relationship from giddy courtship to cool New York City couple (with a lovely brownstone in, where else, Brooklyn) to their current less cool and unhappy post-recession residence in Nick’s hometown of Carthage, Missouri.

Any plot spoilers would negate a lot of the reason to read this book so I’m going to stop here. All I’ll say is I’m glad I had good reason to overcome my contrarian impulses and give this book a read. Especially if you like psychological suspense and even if that isn’t your usual thing, it’s worth it.



Filed under fiction, recommended reading

4 responses to “Hype, lived up to

  1. I MUST get this book. Had it from the library a while back and had to return it unread, sadly, but I’ll get it back. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. boneislandbooks

    C.R., I am SO GLAD to hear from you — missed you over the summer but then I wound up taking my own little blogging hiatus so I know how that goes. Sometimes you just need a break. Definitely get to Gone Girl when you can (if your library is like mine, there’s STILL a long list for it). It’s a quick read, and an absorbing one.

    • S. Orchard

      I had to giggle at your description of yourself approaching the dreaded “middle age” part of life. You perfectly articulated what I’ve been feeling! I also shy away from what “everyone” is reading, preferring to stumble across the next great read I can’t wait tell others about. I, too, am so glad I gave in to the hype and read Gone Girl! The funny thing about this book is that I can’t tell anyone what it’s about without giving something away. All I can tell people is, trust me, you won’t be disappointed! It really is such an engaging read.

  3. Kirsty Mills

    I was lent this by a neighbour so while I’d not have chosen it myself, I felt I should give it a go. I thought it was well written, but my stumbling block was that I disliked just about every character in the book. In what is essentially a mystery novel, there has to be someone to root for, no?

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