Not a review of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl - woman on railway tracks

My writer half and my reader half discuss Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and even agree on a few things about it. I’ve tried to avoid major spoilers, but if you don’t want to know anything about the book then don’t read this post until after you’ve read it.

Sebastian, Rain and I just finished reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and now we’re not going to write a review about it. But we are going to talk about it.

Gone Girl got on my list of mega-popular books to read because of its 44,974 Amazon reviews (and counting).

However, it’s somewhat interesting that it only has four stars. Even the lamest of self-published books usually manages an average of four stars, so I have to assume a lot of people hate this book.

They hate it so much they have to finish reading it, then give it a terrible review, rant to their friends how much they hate it, then their friends have to buy and read it to see how much they hate it, and rinse and repeat.

Thus is a bestseller born.

Rain is one of the people who hated it. Okay, it might be a stretch to call her a person. Why don’t we call her personality instead?

Because it sounds stupid?

Fair point.

Before I pass over to Sebastian and Rain, let me explain my starting point.

“Gone Girl left me feeling icky” – paraphrase of Brian Wright.

Other people:

“It was such a depressing book, but I couldn’t stop reading it.”

“I’ll never look at my partner the same way again.”

“I loved the writing.”

“I hated the writing.”

“I made me despair.”

“It left me with a feeling of hope.”

Okay, so feelings about the book are mixed.

My expectations went something like this. I’m not a fan of thrillers or books without dragons, so I didn’t expect to love it.

But I heard it’s a page-turner, so I expected to be drawn in and held captive the way I was with The Girl on the Train.

I knew it was about deception and darkness within marriage, which is really not my thing, with lots of twists and turns, which is my thing.

What did I think of it? I’ll let Sebastian and Rain explain.

Sebastian: When I started reading I was blown away by the prose: the deft touch; the apt metaphor; the subtle or not-so-subtle foreshadowing. I didn’t expect to like the book, but I sure thought I’d enjoy the writing. Sadly, later chapters didn’t quite live up to the heights of the first one, but they were still very well written and the writing didn’t pull me out of the story.

Rain: Sure the writing was good. I’ll give you that. But what a horrible book. It was basically two despicable people being nasty to each other–sure, in some inventive ways–but I didn’t care about either of them and so I didn’t care what happened to them. I also didn’t believe it.

Sebastian: But the characters were so well painted and deeply characterised. How could you not buy that they’d do that to each other?

Rain: It just seemed like a plotted book. “Now the characters have to do something incredibly far-fetched. I know, I’ll make one a hyper-intelligent sociopath.”

Sebastian: You read books about magic and dragons and you didn’t buy Gone Girl?

Rain: Magic and dragons could be real. That book? Not so much.

Sebastian: Didn’t you think it was a terrifying foray into the secrets you never know about your spouse?

Rain: Um, that she’s not a nice person? No. Two self-centred prats make each other miserable and do nasty things to each other. Even if I bought it–which I don’t–it’s no big secret that people pretend to be things they’re not when they get married. Why do you think so many marriages end after seven years? People get tired of pretending.

Gone Girl - the happy couple

Sebastian: Well, I thought it was clever and believable. The unreliable narrator aspect was especially well done.

Rain: You seriously bought that part? I thought you were supposed to be the smart one. It was so obviously all rubbish. Besides, I can’t stand unreliable narrators. You wrote the book. You get to lie. Whoop-de-doo. And she was so smug about it, as if we had no idea. My intelligence feels insulted.

Sebastian: Okaaay. So you really hated the book.

Rain: Not only did I hate it, I also found it dull. I nearly stopped reading at 17% and again at 38% because it was so boring.

Sebastian: And that’s why you woke up at 2am this morning and read until 5am?

Rain: That was you. Besides, I had an itchy eye and couldn’t sleep.

Sebastian: You mock unreliable narrators, but you are one. Why did you read so obsessively if you hated it that much?

Rain: Here’s the thing. I’d heard about all the wonderful twists and turns the book takes and how the ending is a complete surprise, so I was clinging to the hope I’d be blown off my feet at the end. That something new would come to light and make me see the whole rest of the book differently.

Sebastian: And?

Rain: It didn’t. I won’t say the final twist was predictable as such, but it was meh. Unpleasant people do more unpleasant things to each other. Surprise, surprise. Besides, I didn’t like them and I think they got what they deserved. Emotionally, I didn’t care about the ending, and you know how emotions in reading are everything for me.

Sebastian: It’s called being a hippy.

Rain: You say that as if it’s an insult.

Sebastian looks surprised.

Rain: But you haven’t said much of what you thought of the book.

Sebastian: Besides being well-written, I think it was clever and disturbing. But you’re right–it didn’t live up to expectations.

Rain: I knew you weren’t as stupid as you look. You know we have to watch the movie now, right?

Sebastian: I know.

Have you read Gone Girl? What did you think?

Get more of my ramblings right in your inbox. Sebastian and Rain appreciate your interest.

Author: A.S. Akkalon

By day, A.S. Akkalon works in an office where the computers outnumber the suits of armour more than two-to-one. By night, she puts dreams of medieval castles, swords, and dragons onto paper.

18 thoughts on “Not a review of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn”

  1. I enjoyed it enough to read another of her books, Dark Places, but yes – I disliked the characters so much I did feel they deserved each other!

  2. Gone Girl is one of those books I put down somewhere in the first chapter. I don’t remember why, specifically. I think I was just bored and nodding off–though I might have just been tired and distracted. It became a “one of these days” book that I would pick back up eventually and try reading again. Now I might reconsider that decision…

    1. It took a really long time to get going.

      I tend to find I’m more likely to keep going even if a book seems dull if I know a lot of people enjoyed it… or if I’m on a mission. If I’d picked this up without knowing how popular it is I probably wouldn’t have finished it.

  3. Haven’t read it, and I don’t plan to.

    I demand HEA endings. Too much ugly in the real world to get another dose of it in my fiction. 🙂

    I did like the back and forth between Sebastian and Rain. 🙂

    1. I like HEAs too for the same reason. And for them to be satisfying you need characters who deserve HEAs.

      Thanks! 🙂 I get bored reading/writing regular book reviews–I write these because I find them more fun. 🙂

  4. I do so appreciate Sebastian and Rain’s not-reviews. Very much more illuminating than most actual reviews I read. Haven’t read the book, but Rain’s reaction to it reminds me of how I felt about that long-ago movie “The War of the Roses”, which was supposed to be darkly funny but it was just . . . two people with stunted characters being mean to each other. Meh.

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you enjoy these not-reviews.

      I’ve never heard of the movie “War of the Roses”, but in my experience movies and books that are supposed to be “darkly funny” are in fact just “dark”. Humour is so subjective.

  5. It’s on the “to be read but meh” list. I’ll probably get around to reading it purely from a craft perspective than for pleasure and only ever once. Loved the discussion about the book though, nice style. Unlike the book, I’ll read your blog again! Thanks.

    1. There’s always craft to learn. That’s the biggest reason I’m reading all these books, though I have to say I am rather enjoying reading bestsellers. Even if you hate them you like them. I’m not sure I understand yet, which is why I have to keep going. 😉

  6. It’s been too long since I read the book, but I remember enjoying as a satire of media–and of us, media consumers. And–I haven’t thought about this thoroughly, and would be glad to be corrected–but I wonder if satires *need* to hold readers at arm’s length.

    Satires exaggerate, and the result might be characters and events that don’t resemble life enough to satisfy readers seeking other kinds of stories. I also wonder if Flynn’s plot, intricate yet exaggerated enough that readers notice, might also reflect/comment on how media construct narratives–and draw attention to how often we’re consuming constructed narratives.

    1. I tripped at the word “satire”. Satire requires understanding on the part of the reader, which I sorely lack. So you could be entirely right and I might have missed the whole point of the book. La-la la-la laaa.

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