Completed: Gone Girl

Cover: Gone Girl by Gillian FlynnGone Girl
Gillian Flynn
2012, U.S.

Here expect mild spoilers…

Ah, Gone Girl. An ugly book populated by ugly characters. So, so, ugly.

In truth I was disappointed. Not because of any hype surrounding it. But because I really felt that it could have gone in so many interesting directions–it touched up against some of them–and still been a solid thriller. There was so much opportunity–within the framework of a missing wife/suspected husband–for a deeper look at the economics of the late 2000s and its impact on everyday people. (And I think even maintaining the responsible party for the disappearance.) Instead Flynn opted for the salacious, eschewing the realistic for the sensational. Yet it is reality that is truly more frightening.

I was disappointed, too, at how easy it was to see the story coming. I knew the first twist twenty pages in. The general outcome was basically expected. As for that last twist? Well, I don’t know if I would have predicted it (I read the end before I had finished the first part), but quite frankly I found it ridiculous. This is not to say I didn’t find the book well written. As far as I can tell (granted, sometimes I doubt my own judgement), it IS well written. Which makes it all the more disappointing.

I also think Flynn has the Midwest spot-on. I may have involuntarily shuddered at her descriptions of certain typical Midwestern potluck-style cuisine:

Most of them are out of work from the mall closings, or their husbands are out of work from the mall closings, so they all offer me recipes for “cheap and easy eats” that usually involved a casserole made from canned soup, butter, and a snack chip. (120)

…complimenting women on ambrosia salads and crab dibs and pickle slices wrapped in cream cheese wrapped in salami. (121)

Ambrosia salad! Shudder! So not my thing! Thank goodness not all of us cook that way.

Of course, getting back to those twists–the tendency towards the overly sensational does have a long literary history:

‘Are you, indeed? How delightful? Oh! I would not tell you what is behind the black veil for the world! Are you not wild to know?’ (Northanger Abbey, ch. 6)

We do like our “sensations.” But perhaps my tastes run more to the parody–and social commentary–of Austen.

6 thoughts on “Completed: Gone Girl

    1. I didn’t think it would be so over-the-top–from things I’d read, I’d thought it would be a bit more realistic than it was. Actually, if it hadn’t been for the final chapters it might not have been too bad, but it wasn’t quite what I was expecting.

  1. I just saw the movie and thought it was a big dud. Sensational (as you say in your post), cheesy, farfetched. Can’t believe the book was such a big hit–or maybe I can!

    1. And here I thought the trailer made the movie look better than the book… I’m beginning to think I have a lower tolerance for Gothic, over-sensational stories than a lot of people. As compared to many other books I’ve read, Gone Girl in book form did have much stronger writing than many other thrillers. I think that–and Amy’s strong character–were a draw for many people, but I just couldn’t get past the actual plot.

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