Odd Shelf: Gone Girl

A few weeks ago, I was saddened, but not wholly surprised, to read the bestseller lists of 2012. Check out the list here.

Of course, Fifty Shades of Grey dominated the top four spots in adult fiction (and there’s technically only three books: smooth James, real smooth). Thrown into the lists were other well known names like Nora Roberts, Nicholas Sparks, J.K. Rowling and Janet Evanovich.

It’s not my style to bash another writer–even if, for me personally, their writing caused me to weep a little for the literary world in general–but suffice it to say the bestselling lists rarely, rarely impress me. The point I’m getting at, is number five on the list, right under the Grey trilogy, was a little book called Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

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Since I generally avoid top-selling looks, I was hesitant. But I’d heard very little about this new author and I was intrigued, especially after I heard Stephen King called her work “admirably nasty.”

Admirably nasty is just my style.

And I have to say–guys, I loved it.

It’s a mystery thriller, with the tagline “Marriage is a killer.” Gillian Flynn has said, “With Gone Girl, I wanted to [explore] what happens when two people intertwine their lives completely. I wanted to explore the geography of intimacy–and the devastation it can lead to. Marriage gone toxic.”

She succeeds quite brilliantly in her goal. Here’s a brief copy of a summary off her website, just to speed things along: On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick Dunne’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick Dunne isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but hearing from Amy through flashbacks in her diary reveal the perky perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge.

So yes, it’s a mystery–it’s a thriller. But here’s the catch: the writing is really good, too. A lot of thrillers I read, they’re okay, sometimes pretty good. The clever plots and well-researched situations move things along. But rarely is a good, dark mystery intertwined with poetic, literary prose. In this book, it is. I was having moments of “I wish I had written that sentence” while reading it.

In the second part, a twist is revealed, and I remember staring at my book being like: “You duped me! I was completely fooled. Oh, Gillian Flynn, I do not trust you at all anymore.” The only way to find out is to read it, one page at a time. Her characters are truly psychopaths at times, and yet I resonated perfectly with some of the things they said.

It’s a good book.

It’s been a long time where I’ve gotten so caught up, I wanted to fling the book at the wall, scream and rage. It stays with you after you’re done “coiled and hissing,” as Stephen King says, “like a snake in a cave.”

Not for the first time, I’m a little late to the party. You can go read a hundred reviews exactly like mine. But I recommend it. If I did stars, which I don’t, I would give this one five.

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