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Ten Things You Should Know Before Reading Gone Girl

Written by: Beth Woodward, CC2K Books Editor

I finally read Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl last week, about a woman who disappears under mysterious circumstances and the husband who immediately becomes a suspect.  The first surprise is that it took me so long to read it.  Gone Girl was named on many of 2012’s “best of” book lists.  It’s got mystery and suspense and page-turner qualities.  Why didn’t I read this one sooner?

I’m going with “better late than never” on this one.  I’m not going to write a review, because there’s already about a million of those out there.  But I know I’m not the only one who hasn’t read it.  So instead of a review, I’m going with the 10 things you should know about Gone Girl before reading it.

1) This is one of the few cases of alternating first person points of view that I’ve seen done well.  I had a discussion with some friends on Facebook not too long ago, and I said that alternating first person is almost never done well.  Flynn proves me wrong—or at least, proves that it’s not as rare as I thought.  Both Nick and Amy’s voices are well-developed and distinct.

2) Flynn is very obviously aware of the media landscape surrounding such titillating crimes, and uses it to her advantage in the book.  The way Flynn uses the media, and shows how it can be twisted and manipulated, is one of my favorite things about the book.

3) The much-discussed “twist” isn’t nearly as twisty as we’ve been led to believe.  I deduced it right off, and I was much more certain by the time I hit the 25% mark of the book.  But…

4) The twist isn’t nearly as important as you think it is.  You may initially think discovering what happened to Amy will answer questions, but it doesn’t.  It will only generate more questions.

5) I couldn’t stop reading it, and it’s not a book I’ll soon forget

6) I’m not sure how I feel about the portrayal of gender in the book, especially in regards to Amy’s character.  I can’t say much more without spoiling things, so I’ll leave it at that.

7) Flynn does not believe in likeable characters.  You will, at alternating times, find yourself hating both protagonists.  Furthermore….

8) Your opinion about the characters may reverse itself completely by the end of the book.

9) Amazing that a book so scathingly unromantic prominently features such a romantic tradition.  If I ever get married, I totally want to do a scavenger hunt every year for our anniversary, with romantic poems as clues.  But would that be bad karma?

10) I thought the book was, from a technical standpoint, very, very well done.  But I didn’t enjoy reading it.  The book is incredibly well-written.  Flynn plays her readers like a fiddle, and by the end I wanted to applaud her.  But I didn’t like reading it.  It’s not a happy book.  It left me feeling rather glum, and scrambling for the nearest romance novel wherein the main characters haven’t ever done anything worse than jaywalk.  If that’s what’s you’re looking for, than this is definitely a worthwhile read.  But if you’re hoping for something fun and fluffy to take on vacation, look elsewhere.