Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
Gone Girl is 2012's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, that gritty suspense thriller that everyone and their mother was reading. For the first half, it sucked me in with well-drawn characters, a setup that has its fingers on the pulse of the times, and a delicious sense of Hitchcockian misdirection.
The two narrators are Nick and Amy, a thirty-something pair of would-be yuppies whose magazine careers and New York City lives were derailed by the Great Recession. They have now downsized their dreams to the Midwest, characterized as the home of corn chip casseroles, bland earnestness, and shopping at Walmart. There, Nick took care of his ailing parents and opened a bar with the last of Amy's trust fund money. And, there, their marriage fell apart.
Starting from page one, we get Nick's side of things: a perpetually unsatisfied wife and a life that seems to be going nowhere. Then, on their fifth wedding anniversary, Amy disappears, leaving behind signs of a struggle and a trail of clues in the form of an anniversary scavenger hunt. Nick blinks and stumbles his way through the ensuing police investigation, and there's the sense that he's not telling us everything.
Interspersed with Nick's narrative are journal entries from Amy, painting a picture of a fairytale marriage that sours after a husband stops trying. And there's just a hint of control freak insecurity, perhaps triggered in part by being the inspiration for the goody-two-shoes protagonist of a series of saccharine children's books written by Amy's own parents over the decades, the source of her small family fortune.
It doesn't take long before the reader gets the sense that Nick, while somewhat evasive and not exactly the husband of the year, is falling into a trap. Clues in the investigation and public opinion are going against him.
Then comes a twist, and we learn that a few things about Nick and Amy’s marriage have been misrepresented. Here, the novel began to get unbelievable for me, though the suspense remained enjoyable. Would Nick be arrested? How would his sleazeball lawyer, his media appearances, his oddball sister, Amy's wealthy, creepy ex-boyfriend, a deranged father, and a couple of desperate types in a short-term housing park play into the plot? As Nick's defenses steadily crumble around him, against a far craftier opponent, Flynn keeps us guessing, even rooting for a guy who was initially hard to like.
When the story reaches its endgame, it escalates into pure absurdity, a sort of screw-turning, Stephen King-like nightmare scenario (think of him in suspense mode, not monster mode). Somewhere, a few psychologists are doing face palms. But, if you're willing to shut off your brain, it's fun, in a deliciously dark way.
All in all, this novel showed a lot of promise for roughly the first half. Flynn obviously *reads*, and has a sense of craft. I loved the unreliable narrators and the ambiguity. Unfortunately, though, once the game is revealed, the novel morphs steadily into airport bookstore territory. This isn't necessarily bad, but I'd hoped for a bit more psychological complexity. Oh well.
The two audiobook narrators are good. Kirby Heyborne, who performs Nick's parts, ranges from bemused calm to barely suppressed anger. Julia Whelan, who takes Amy's, has a girlish chipperness that works well.
I'll start by saying I literally hated how often this author misused the word "literally". Add to that the fact that both protagonists (husband and wife) are ugly, hateful characters, though in different ways. Even the more benign characters, like "the girl"s parents, are willfully blind to their situation and passive aggressive in dealing with their daughter, so saying they're benign is not very high praise. I really didn't care much about what happened because I disliked the characters so much, and the best I can say is that the pathological protagonist was inventive and intelligent in creating cruel situations. I don't mean cruel in the physical sense (no scenes of torture, or anything), but in the emotional and psychological sense. Nasty. I won't bother with another of her books, but I knew that by the second time she misused "literally"
I completely trusted the reviews of a few people I follow and it paid off. I would have never looked for this book as it would never make my radar list.
This book is pretty course (meaning vulgar language and content), which I always enjoy if it represents reality and written into the story as a natural aspect of the story. In this case the author accomplished just that.
The story bounces back and forth from the perspectives of the husband and wife, respectively and follow different timelines, interestingly enough. The author pulls it off brilliantly as sometimes this can lead to confusion or a hard-to-follow story line.
In the end there are certainly a few hard-to-believe aspects of the story that could be interpreted as holes, but I simply decided to ignore and enjoy the story, and it worked.
The narrators did a great job and the production was good (as you probably know many multiple narrator efforts are butchered - but not this one).
Thinker Meets Explorer
I brought Gone Girl on a trip with me to London, and while I enjoyed the sights there, I also couldn't put this book down when I got back to my hotel each night. I didn't like the wife Amy's voice at first - she felt a little too self-absorbed and flippant - but as the mystery unfolded, I could see just why.
Like the couple at the center of this novel, you somehow get sucked into their dysfunctional marriage and cannot let go until the very (twisted) end.
This was my first time listening to Gillian Flynn, and it won't be the last--she has a fresh, eye-opening way of shedding insight into marriage and relationships. (Just listen to the "cool girl" passage--it's worth your credit alone.)
I had high hopes for this book given how highly it was rated by others. I was disappointed to find how negative and unlikable the characters were. I listen to fiction to escape and/or to learn, and I like when there is someone interesting to care about or pull for. This story felt to me like something written by a depressed writer in winter in Brooklyn - it just didn't capture my imagination or hold much heart or suspense for me.
Hmmm not sure this was a bit dark for my tastes.
No, I don't want to know anything more about either of those people.
I like stories about "real" people, but these two take it to an extreme - they are way to sick for me to want to know as much as I know about them. The first part was entertaining and intrieging, the second half I found quite depressing. On the good side - it was well crafted and narrated and kept me very interested until close to the end when I saw no hope in sight and then I felt cheated - why should I have cared about two suck sick individuals.
Probably nothing by the author. I'd give the narrators a shot. They did their work well.
I know that the world is full of horrible people. I know that this book reflects that. This is just not what I enjoy, vindictive, selfish characters that never seem to have any redeeming value.
The lady cop. I can't remember her name. She's the only one who seemed likable. Margo, Nick's sister was ok, but she was snarky and mean in her own way. She was loyal, though.
I know art demands a reaction. I guess if that is what the author wants, she got it. But to go for a bad reaction just for reaction's sake seems cheap to me. I just really disliked the book. It never got better, either. I kept expecting some sort of turn that would redeem ... something. I would recommend not reading this. Some people loved it. Not me.
Just when you've settled into a fascinating story things happen that throw you--in a good way. The story lends itself to two narrators and they are first rate. Gillian Flynn is a talented "crafter" of a roller coaster tale that will hold your interest from start to finish. The Audible credit you spent on this book is well spent.
Fiction: I like Paranormal, Young Adult, Historical, Fantasy, Romance, Classics. Non-Fiction: I like Historical, Military, Memoirs.
I really wanted to give this five stars--I really did--but I wasn't happy with the way things ended and had to dock a star for that. Having said that, Gone Girl is the best book I've listened to and read in a long time. Great, great writing. This was the first Gillian Flynn book I've ever read, and she can turn a phrase like few others. And the twists and turns...my poor nerves! The narration was terrific as well. Both narrators were spot on. What an all-around great book.
One likeable character would be a great start.
Going to avoid spoilers, in case you choose to listen to this book, but my general opinion is as follows. Many people talked about the "many twists and turns," there were a few but I didn't find any that surprising, maybe I just read too many psychological thrillers but everything was pretty well laid out by the half way point, surprises over. Plus, you should always have at least one decent person in the story, even if it's an antihero that you root for despite their shortcomings, not in this one. Also, it was lengthy for the story and got boring at times. I kept waiting for things to get better, for the twists making the time worth while, for people in the book to at least get what was coming to them, but it didn't happen. I was so excited about this book after enjoying, "Dark Places," so much, but I was truly disappointed and would recommend that you skip this one entirely.
They did a great job with the characters, reading each so well. You could have known who was speaking without being told.
No, it ended so badly that I follow up would be torturous.
If you would like a great book with great characters and fantastic twists try anything by Lisa Gardner. "Love You More," was excellent.