From Tracie: Gone Girl Gone

Friday, October 25, 2013

Gone Girl Gone

It is a tired Friday afternoon in which I find myself typing. My eyelids are droopy, and my arm is too disconnected from my brain to swipe the candies around on the screen. It isn't just the late night watching and discussing of documentaries yesterday, or the cold front that has finally brought feelings of fall. I am experiencing the drugged feeling of finishing an exhausting book.

My brain wants to dissect every plan, every clue, every plot twist in Gone Girl. Except, I don't. Not really. I know I'm nearly the last person in America to read it at this point, but I often read one step behind the rest of the world. Just in case you are one step behind even me, I will warn you that many spoilers are about to happen.

Gone Girl. I was careful to not let my eyes dart across reviews or blog posts about it. Other than knowing it was particularly twisty and dark, I had no idea what the plot was when I put my name on the hold list at the library months ago. It arrived this week, and I read it today. Dark and twisty felt right for a cold Friday afternoon, sun streaming in through the curtains at just the right angle.

Gone Girl Book Cover

I was underwhelmed. I like twisty. I like having two points of view to work with. I enjoy a character who is ready to do a little self-analyzing. I like diary entries in books. There were a lot of things seemingly in the plus column for this book - until they weren't.

Two points of view are great until you realize you loathe both of them. At that point, it just feels like twice the torture.

The more Nick analyzed himself, the more I felt like Gillian Flynn was manipulating the reader into forgiving him, liking him, wanting to be on his side even though he had killed Amy. Even though you didn't believe he had killed Amy. Even though he had killed Amy. Even though he was a cheater. Even though he hadn't killed Amy, and only fantasized about it constantly - before, during, and after her disappearance. Here's the thing. I don't like Nick. I could barely bring myself to feel sorry for him at any point in the book.

Diaries are great reading because they are often unfiltered; they hold those words that aren't uttered aloud. They can be personal or clinical in a recording of the day kind of way. There are many directions to take a diary. Heck, my own journals read like a combination of all of that if you were to pick out several random days to read (please don't). But it did not take many chapters for Amy's diary entries to feel contrived. Knowing later that they were contrived did not make that better for me. It just made me feel like the writing was lazy, because in the book those diary entries were supposed to be so convincing to the police and her family that they could not possibly have a contrived air about them at all.

How do you know if a diary is fake?
A. The diary author stops twice to point out that she correctly used me instead of I in her sentence.
B. The diary author says things like, "I think he is going to kill me" in a diary that she presumably would have kept in the home with this soon-to-be-murderous man.
C. The diary author actually includes quizzes in it as a hat tip to her job of being a quiz writer even thought that is something that only people in movies do.
D. All of the above

Answer: D. But A is the most annoying.

Seriously Gillian Flynn, thanks for the grammar lesson. I already knew when to use I and when to use me, but clearly you are on a one-woman mission to teach the rest of the world how to do it right. Will you fake your own murder and implicate the grammar-abusing people of America in your death if they do not begin using those two words correctly?

This was a book that, like Amy's fake diary, tried too hard. It tried too hard to be dark and twisty. It tried too hard to be a little bit of everything: Rich, educated New York girl. Hard-working midwestern boy. Bad economy. Bad parents (bad in two different ways - just to cover all the bases). The "Blue Book Boys" living in an abandoned mall and supposedly roaming the town like a gang. Perfect marriage (Amy's parents). Broken marriage (Nick's parents). Toxic marriage (Amy and Nick). Rednecks. Stalkers. Rapists. Stalkers and rapists who were set up. Old money. New money. No money. Love as a prison. Preppy boarding school. Abused women hiding out until their bruises faded. Names that were purely ridiculous. Cultural and literary references that feel forced onto the characters when they were supposed to make them seem hip, special, or (with a nod to Amy) "cool."

With all of the tired stereotypes Flynn trotted out, I should have at least been able to identify with one character in the book, even accidentally, but it never happened. And the sideways indictment of the Nancy Grace/TV tabloid culture that permeated the storyline has been done before, and done better.

Somewhere in the middle of the second part, I was kind of hoping Desi would jump out of the bushes and kill everyone. Maybe he could have joined forces with that girl who didn't actually try to take over Amy's life in high school and the guy who never actually raped Amy, and they could have bombed the Mississippi River. At least it would have put me out of my reader's misery.

This takes me back to being underwhelmed. There was some good writing. I didn't immediately guess the twisty plot, and the ending was a bit of a shock (although I did have it on my list of possible endings, so it wasn't that much of a shock). Maybe it is just all of the hype that surrounded it. Maybe I expected more. Maybe I expected something different. Maybe the sunlight wasn't streaming in at an exactly perfect angle this afternoon like I originally thought. But no matter how many outside circumstances stood in the way of me not loving this book as much as everyone else seemed to love it, I think the majority of the blame still sits with Flynn and her writing choices. The smugness that dripped off of every page. And the pointing out of the correct usage of the word me. Twice. I don't think I will ever be able to forgive that.

Have you read Gone Girl?
Did you like it? If so, I would love for you to argue with me a bit here, and bring me over to your side. I wanted to like it. I really did.


  1. Your beef with the grammar is making me laugh hysterically. That really WAS irritating.! Hahahaha.
    Overall I liked the book. I HATED...HATED the ending. I actually disliked every single character in the book, too. The one I came closest to liking turned was a psychotic killer---and I like that character the best AFTER I found out they were a killer. That's the one I was rooting for :D --lisa

  2. haha, I am cracking up. I did find a character I kinda liked but I already forgot her name. Nick's twin sister! Margo? Google tells me this but it doesn't ring a bell. Guess she wasn't that great!
    I enjoyed reading it in that it sucked me in and I couldn't wait to get back in when I was not reading it. However I already forgot a lot of it and of course I didn't love the ending, even though some argue it was the best way she could end it.

  3. I read it expecting it to be the best book ever...according to all of the hoopla surrounding the book and the fact that I was #97 on the library's wait list when I requested it. But to tell you the truth, I thought is was just ok. I found all of the characters overly annoying and the fact that Nick and Amy were going to raise a baby was the most annoying of all.

    Stopping by from ShareFest.

  4. Read it! Didn't love it like everyone else either. I did think it was a quick read because I was interested in finding out what was going to happen. But I hated every character and the ending completely annoyed me.

  5. Your review is the best I've read of this book. Twice the torture sums it up the two plots perfectly for me. I tend to read mostly nonfiction and had been looking forward to a good fiction read for months. What a disappointment.

  6. This is such an awesomely great review of what you are telling me is a not so great book yet somehow you still make me want to read it just to see...

  7. I loved this review, and I didn't even read the book! I feel like Mrsteeh, you kind of make me want to read it (or at least skim through)! I guess it's like having to look at a bad crash, huh? You don't want to but somehow, you've just gotta... So happy to be visiting you from SITS Sharefest!

  8. I guess I won't be reading this book.

    Visiting from #SITSSHAREFEST

    Keep it Touched,


  9. Stacie from Simply Stacie just wrote on her FB page that it was a great book. LOL Hmmm...I may check it out because now I am quite intrigued.

    Visiting from the #SITSSharefest :)
    Have an awesome weekend!
    Tami Marie

  10. I have not heard of Girl Gone but then there are lots of books I have not heard of one more is neither here nor there.............

  11. This was exactly how I felt about the book. I picked it up to read a while back and put it right down again when I read one of the characters was named Go. I mean, really? Ugh. I gave it another go as an audiobook and I was able to mostly move past the wince-worthy nickname and got stuck enough in the twistiness that I managed to finish the whole thing. It held my attention, but I loathed every character and the smugness in the writing. It came across like a soap opera. Like I kept expecting that she would next be possessed by the devil or some other insanity.
    I've wondered about her other books as it was an audiobook that kept my attention. Maybe the others were like self-satisfied?

  12. You aren't the last person to read it! The last person is sitting right here.

    Pssst, awesome book reviewer. Why don't you add that to your list of things you do well?

    Happy Sunday, girly.

  13. Great review! I have not read the I want to and I don't want to...

  14. Alright, I'll argue with you a little bit here. It's a psychological study that got caught up in being fiction. It's a story that had to be edited into this because the raw details would have been unreadable. It's how a sociopath can infect the lives of others, in a cognizant way, and use them to his/her absolute advantage. There wasn't a likable character because Flynn didn't want to give you the pleasure of having a likable character. Books that have likable characters have likable qualities, and are thus likable stories. This is the story of maniacal manipulation and murder. It's not supposed to be likable. And, because it's fiction, it doesn't necessarily need to be real.

    Per the grammar points - I have a few friends that are grammar fiends, and occasionally they point out the correct usage of the English language. In fact, sometimes I question aloud some usage nonsense and then answer my own question when no one else can.

    As far as the quiz-writing goes, I get the feeling that the characters, while telling their story, are speaking in the past. It's like she's telling a sick joke. I actually thought the quiz questions added to every indication that this plot was 100% calculated, cold, and absolutely insane. While it may have been a little over the top, it gave some insight into the heartless bitch Amy truly was.

    If nothing else, it was an expose of how growing up with parents that spoil you in ever way (except emotionally, they neglect you instead) can affect your adult life directly. It made me a little bit afraid and sad for every childhood star I'm aware of.

    I hope this makes sense! Props to you for taking a stance on the book though - it's nice to see someone actually thinking about it instead of mindlessly reading it and saying "oh that book was good," and moving on. Happy Monday!

  15. I really enjoyed the unpredictable twists and turns throughout the book. I plan to read the rest of the author's books.

  16. I liked it - I read it way after everyone else too - can't remember now - much - but I just thought it was a good mystery and was different then most other books I've read - I felt it was unpredictable - left you guessing - so I thought it was good

    don't know if I loved either of them either - and they are making a movie - Nick is going to be Ben Affleck - who I don't love really either - ha-ha