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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Gone Girl: A Manipulative Mystery...In a Great Way

Gillian Flynn pulls off the greatest of tricks with her new novel Gone Girl — not only is she an expert puppet master, pulling the strings on an intricately plotted story in which her characters are constantly manipulating each other. But also — and this is the best part — while you're reading this story, she's manipulating you, as well!

When I finished this book it felt like my brain had curled up in a ball, mewling, like a kicked puppy. But in a good way, if that's possible.You go through such a range of reading emotions, such a range of feelings regarding these characters, that when you're finished, and you see how it all came together, you're just...well...you're just curled up in a mental ball. 

Gone Girl is far-and-away the it novel of this summer. Everyone's reading it. Everyone's raving about it. Since it was published in early June, the buzz has steadily grown and the positive reviews have flocked in (it currently has an average of 4.14 on Good Reads — which is very high). And, in my view, all of its success is well-warranted.

The story is about two mid-30s Manhattanites, Amy and Nick, who meet, fall in love, and marry. But then both lose their magazine jobs, due to the crashing economy, and the couple moves back to Nick's po-dunk hometown in Missouri, ostensibly to care for Nick's ailing parents, but in reality because they're broke and have few other options. Suddenly, Amy disappears — but is Nick a killer?

What happens over the course of the next 350 pages of novel — told in Nick's and Amy's alternating points of view — is so intense and unbelievably good and often gut-punch-level surprising, that all I can really say about it, is this: Just go freakin' read it. Trust me, you do not want to know anything else about this novel going in, except the basics — because as I said at the beginning, the greatest trick and the best part of this novel is how adeptly Flynn plays on her readers' emotions, empathy, and ability to be surprised.

One final note: As a bit of icing on the cake, on a granular-prose level Gone Girl is one the most clever, witty, funny, sharply written novels I've read in a long time. Flynn is an ex-TV-reviewer for Entertainment Weekly, and it is very clear how plugged-in she is to pop culture and modern humor. She's just...cool. Yep, it's all that good. Five stars.

26 comments:

  1. You wrote about this perfectly. Gone Girl is just one of those books you put into people's hands simply saying "read it" and then watch their reactions. It's great to see so much buzz about a book that has nothing to do with dystopia or vampires.

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    1. Couldn't agree more about being excited that a smart, well-written novel is so popular. I'm recommending this book to everyone I know the same way you suggest: Just read it.

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  2. I saw the write up of this book in Time, and then the author Diana Abu-Jaber was on Twitter raving about it. Definitely sounds like something I need to read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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    1. It definitely IS something you need to read. :)

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  3. I am incredibly excited for this. I had originally intended to read all 3 of her books in order, back-to-back-to-back, but realized after Sharp Ojects that I would likely go mad if I didn't spread them out a little. I just finished Dark Places the other day and will probably tackle this within the next week (I hope.) Such a talent.

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    1. I just talked with someone who read Gone Girl first and then immediately went back and read her two other titles - her comment "The only cure for Gillian Flynn is more Gillian Flynn." :)

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  4. I keep seeing reviews for this and they all say how cool it is. I need to read it ASAP!

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    1. It is very, very cool - smart AND witty.

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  5. This is the one I've been pushing on people all summer. I wish some of them would read it so I could talk about it in detail.

    I also think Jack White's song Love Interruption would be a perfect theme song if this was ever made into a movie.

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    1. Great call on the Jack White song! I'm sure this thing's been optioned - probably only a matter of time before we see the movie. Though, given the shift in, um, reliability of the narrators, it may be a hard movie to make well - unless David Lynch does it...

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  6. Totally agree with you. I listened to the audiobook and was gasping at times. Amazing book.

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    1. Oh man, I bet the audiobook experience was cool - I had to keep putting my hand over the bottom of pages so I wouldn't skip ahead to find out what happens...

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  7. The "It" book is what I've heard .... I'll bring it to the beach! Stoked.

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    1. It's a fantastic beach read! But don't get too caught up - the result could be a nasty sunburn!

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  8. It's a good one. This was such a pleasurable read. I never felt like picking it up was a chore. I don't think I was as surprised by the twists and turns because, after reading Flynn's other work, I knew the kinds of places she would go.

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    1. No, definitely was not ever a chore to read. I devoured it in about three days - one of those books you read every spare second.

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  9. Totally agree on all counts.

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    1. Now, that's the kind of comment I like. :)

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  10. I'm really happy to read this review. This is my book club's next pick, but I hadn't yet heard much about it when it was suggested. Let's just say that occasionally some of my book club members have questionable taste in "literature" (google On Strike for Christmas if you need proof), so I'm relieved that someone whose taste I trust loved it.

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  11. I have to agree on this one. It's definitely a page turner and a great manipulative thriller, nothing like what I've read before. I didn't much care for the end, but the trip there was definitely worth it.

    And apparently Reese Witherspoon purchased the movie rights for over a million, so look for it on the big screen in the next few years.

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  12. I read this book and about fell out of my chair each time I turned a page. I've read all three of her books and this one ranks right up there with her debut, Sharp Objects. You've GOT to read that one if you haven't yet!

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  13. I finished it and immediately handed it to my husband to read it so I could talk to him about it. AWESOME book, great read. Thanks for the review.

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  14. Just finished listening to the audio of this. While extremely well done I would suggest reading instead of listening. I could not listen fast enough to this engrossing mystery. Master manipulator for sure. Excellent story

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  15. The best review I've read bout the book!! Great job!

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  16. This novel isn't going to appeal to everyone, but for those of us who appreciate a profanity laden, smart, well-written, cleverly plotted, dark, nasty suspense novel that manages to entertain as well provide social commentary on relationships and the roles we play it doesn't get much better than this.

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