Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

Gone GirlSo, true story, I haven’t read a single review of this book yet. I’ve seen about a million of them in my Google Reader, but enough of them have started out with a “Seriously, don’t read this review until you’ve read the book” that I’ve just been skipping them all. I realize this is weird and kind of not the point of, like, blogging, but seriously. If you want to experience the full power of this book, pretend you were never here, go get the book, read it, and then come back. The internet will wait for you!

Oh, and let me also note for the record that I did not care for Sharp Objects, Flynn’s first novel, and so I didn’t read her second one, but I am really glad I gave her another chance with this one. If you were squicked out by the more graphic parts of Sharp Objects, rest assured that you will see almost none of that here.

Okay, so, now that you’ve read the book or have decided you don’t care about ancient Egyptian curses or whatever, let’s get down to it.

OMFG. This book.

So the basic premise is that there’s a dude called Nick married to a chick called Amy, and they’re not terribly happy, and one day Amy goes missing and it doesn’t look very good for her or for Nick, on account of, you know, it’s always the husbands who do these things. But you don’t have to take television crime procedurals’ word for it, because Nick happens to be the narrator of half the book and he certainly isn’t making himself look innocent.

The other half is narrated by Amy, or at least by Amy’s diary, starting from when she met Nick and moving toward the day of her disappearance. The two narratives trade back and forth in a delightful fashion, with each chapter’s ending tying in somehow to the next chapter’s beginning, and of course the two sides tend to disagree with each other. The only thing the reader can be sure of is that this is not a terribly good marriage and that Nick is totally hiding something.

And so I spent the whole first section of the book being like, Nick did it. He totally did it. Maybe he did it. Did he do it? Maybe he didn’t do it? No, he totally did it. Did he? He did.

And then.

And then.

And then out of nowhere comes a second section, and it was like, so here’s what REALLY happened, and I was like, … I may have shouted “No effing way!” at my husband, whom I was keeping apprised of the situation, and he may have been like, “Wait, what?” when I explained. It is an interesting development, is what I am saying.

And then the book becomes basically the greatest thing since Dial M for Murder, by which I mean it becomes Dial M for Murder, with the whole knowing what really happened and watching the investigation and wondering whether the culprit will get away with it or get caught and you don’t know quite who to root for because on the one hand, getting away with it, and on the other hand, how can you let someone get away with that?

And THEN there’s the third section, in which absolutely ridiculous and insane things happen and part of me is like, what, and the other part of me is like, well, could it really have ended any other way?

To sum up: this book is batshit crazy and I kind of love it.

Rating: 10/10

Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn

What a weird effing book. Seriously. I felt dirty and gross after reading it. I should have stopped at page 19 like I wanted to, but I wanted to know what happened!

This is my problem with reading mysteries/thrillers/suspense novels/what-have-you. It doesn’t matter how crappy the writing or the story or the characters are… if the mystery intrigues me I get so drawn in! In this particular case, the story goes like this: A little girl goes missing in Small Town, MO, less than a year after another little girl went missing and was found dead, teeth pulled out of her mouth (yes, this book gets gory, don’t read if you’re squeamish!). A journalist, originally from Small Town and now working at a third-rate paper in Chicago, is sent down to get the story, with the idea that even a former local will get better info than a stranger. Of course, people who leave Small Towns don’t usually want to go back, and neither does our journalist, Camille, because she’s got some serious emotional baggage from a crappy mother and a dead sister and the price of high-school popularity. But she goes, and when the second girl is found dead, teeth pulled out of her mouth, the mystery gets interesting… and when things start coming to light about just how much emotion fits in that baggage Camille is carrying, it gets downright intriguing.

My problem with this book wasn’t really the writing, per se, as what Flynn was writing about — the murders are gory, I can deal with that, but then she goes and throws in all this weird sex and drinking and drug use that happens in such implausible (well, to me anyway… I’m not really well-versed in casual sex, alcoholism, or recreational drug use) situations and I really had to just put the blinders on, skim through the weird parts, and focus on the investigation at hand. But even skimming those parts made me feel gross. Ucch.

And then after everything the ending feels really rushed, like Flynn knew I wasn’t going to put up with her shenanigans much longer and wanted to make sure that I found out whodunnit, but considering that whodunnit is what I cared about, not Camille’s sex life, I wish that Flynn had spent a few more pages making it even slightly suspenseful.

Basically, if you like really weird and awkward situations, and if you don’t mind talk of self-mutilation (oh, yeah, there’s lots of that) and thirteen-year-olds doing drugs, and if you don’t really care about the mystery part… you’ll probably like this book better than I did. It was just not the right book for me.

Question: I have Dark Places, Flynn’s second novel, waiting on my shelf right now. Given my opinion of Sharp Objects, should I read the other one?

Rating: 5/10
(Countdown Challenge: 2006, Support Your Local Library Challenge)

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