Monday, February 09, 2015

Gone Girl

Title: Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
Published: 2012

Sometimes, books come along and I have no interest in reading them until I found out just how popular they are. Then the peer pressure gets to me and I have to pick them up. That's how it happened for me with the Harry Potter. Book four in that series was near its release before I first picked up Sorcerer's Stone. With Gone Girl, I had barely registered its existence until the movie was made. The trailers and Jimmy Fallon made me want to see it, but I always like to read the book before seeing a movie, so I can be properly disappointed.

As I write my thoughts on the novel, I can guarantee that there will be spoilers. For those who care to know my spoiler-free thoughts, know that I found Gone Girl to be a good read overall. It was wildly disturbing in a number of parts. Also, I was a little disappointed. To find out why I was disappointed, venture lower into the spoiler-filled review.

This is your last chance...

If you haven't read or seen Gone Girl, you're about to come across some pretty severe plot points...

Are you sure you don't want to go back and check out my review of a much happier book?

Okay... you were warned...

Once a book becomes popular, or when a book is made into a movie, it's hard to avoid hearing or reading about what people think of it, even if they give no specific spoilers. So going into Gone Girl, I knew there would be a huge twist. I was looking for it as I read. And then, about a quarter of the way in, before it was actually revealed, I figured it out.

Amy, the Gone Girl, had done it all herself.

The first part of the book alternates between Nick's narration and Amy's diary entries, which span the course of her relationship and marriage with Nick. But between these two forms of conveying the story, something doesn't quite add up. Amy's diary entries don't match up with the picture Nick's been painting of their relationship. And we quickly discover that Nick isn't being completely honest with the story he tells.

I had to assume that, despite the narrator's tendency to hid the whole truth, he was at least being honest about his innocence. He was made to look guilty by his seeming inability to show emotion. I can sort of relate to that. Not that I found myself feeling sorry for the guy. Nick, we find, doesn't have a lot of redeeming qualities.

That said, I also figured out, pretty quickly, that Amy's diary entries weren't entirely honest either. I have no doubt that two people in a relationship will have different perspectives about how events play out. But Amy's diary read like a work of fiction within the fiction of this story. So what do you do when you can't trust either of your narrators?

I picked the lesser of two evils. I went with Nick, assuming that he genuinely had no clue what happened to Amy. I hope that doesn't make me a misogynist, but it's where my gut went. At about the book's midpoint, I was proven right. Amazing Amy was alive and well, watching her husband's fall from grace as it played out on national television. I'd really love to say I figured this out through brilliant deductive reasoning, but I don't think I'm that smart. I was just prepared for a twist that a lot of people didn't see coming. I asked myself, how could this whodunit be different from all the other formulaic thrillers on the market? I guess that's why I was disappointed. I was just clever enough to figure out the truth before the truth was revealed. Personally, I'd really like to read a book that was just so unpredictable that I had no chance of predicting what would happen.

I was not, however prepared for just how serious a sociopath that Amy would turn out to be. She meticulously planned every move she made. While she couldn't plan for every single contingency, she was pretty spot on with most of it. And in the eyes of her fictional public, she got away with it. It's disturbing to think that there are real people in the world who can think the way she did. At times, I wonder what it says about the authors who create characters like this, planning out every scheme that takes place in the pages of their books.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015


Title: Christine
Author: Stephen King
Published: 1983

I've mentioned a number of times that one of my bucket list items is to read every novel written by Stephen King. I've been reading my way through his works based on the order of their publication. This has brought me to one I actually was not looking forward to reading.

I remember seeing the John Carpenter directed film version of Christine back when I was a kid. I was never impressed by the movie, no offense to Mr. Carpenter or the other folks behind the making of the picture. If I'm completely honest, I'm not a big fan of most of John Carpenter's work, except for the original Halloween.

Another reason, I think, that I wasn't in a hurry to read Christine was simply because I'm not a car guy. It's probably a disservice to myself that I don't know more about cars and what makes them run, but it's information I never learned. A lot of guys grow up working on cars with their dads, or maybe that's just a suburban stereotype. But that's just not something I shared with my old man. He wasn't a car guy either. And I think that's probably the first time I've ever referred to him as my old man.

I'd like to say that I loved the book, despite my hesitation in picking it up. As novels go, it wasn't horrible. But as Stephen King novels go, I thought it was kind of weak. Maybe it's because it was about a haunted car. Maybe it's because it didn't take place in Maine, the setting for most of King's work. But The Shining wasn't set in Maine and that book was spectacular. Whatever it was, I just remember wishing that it was already over as I made my way through it.

I have experienced some strange things in my own vehicle since finishing Christine. For more on those bizarre occurrences, check out what I wrote over at The Confusing Middle.