TBR Challenge: Inescapable Chatter

I have to admit it. This month’s TBR Challenge theme was a tough one. I looked at my TBR and realized that I didn’t have any truly buzzed-over books sitting there. Of all the possibilities that I could think of and that actually interested me, they’d either been reviewed or I had simply read from curiosity some time ago already.

I was getting ready to simply read a book I’d seen recommended by bloggers whose tastes are similar to mine, when a copy of Gone Girl dropped into my lap. This 2012 book by Gillian Flynn is pretty much the epitome of a much buzzed-about read. I’d have to live under a rock not to know about it. It’s been mentioned all over romance sites, mystery sites, and all kinds of mainstream literary sites. Usually the literary fiction “Best Books of the Year” lists don’t hold a lot of allure for me, but this book is definitely different from just about anything out there. If I read it for review, it would be a B+.

The book opens with Nick Dunne getting called home. There he discovers his house standing open, with signs of a struggle in the living, and his wife Amy is gone. And it’s really hard to tell you much more than that without spoiling the story. Part of the genius of this book lies in its structure. Chapters are told alternately from Nick and Amy’s point of view, some set in the present and others filled with memories from the past via Amy’s diary. And as the chapters unfold, the reader notices two big things: This story is filled with many layers of secrets and it’s hard to figure out at times just how reliable the narrators truly are.

As the story unfolds, the author artfully drops in shocking revelation after shocking revelation. Just when you think you know what’s going on, it all changes. Even more importantly, just when you think you know Nick and Amy, they reveal something new. And that’s what hooked me. The twists and turns of the often surprising story captured my imagination, and I just HAD to know what happened next. In addition, Flynn is not afraid to take risks with her characters. As they evolve, some of the people in this book go to some very dark places and Flynn is pretty unflinching in that exploration.

A stylistic note: I’d call this book literary suspense. Flynn is a very polished writer, but also a very wordy one. In addition to experimenting with characterization and painting a very vivid portrait of a marriage, I often got the sense that the author liked playing with words. At times I enjoyed it because it shows she has a distinctive voice, but at other points, I felt like saying, “Oh, just get to the point already!” So, if you either love or hate that style of writing, just be aware that it’s there.

This read came close to being a DIK for me, so why not quite there? Well, the wordiness I mention above didn’t always work for me, and I had to force myself to get a few chapters into the story before the completely warped nature of the story caught my attention and compelled me to keep reading. And then, in the latter parts of the book, some of the plot twists were just a little too perfect. Even so, I can honestly say I’ve never read a story quite like this one and it’s a very good, if sometimes unsettling, read.

- Lynn Spencer

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7 Responses to “TBR Challenge: Inescapable Chatter”

  1. Lori says:

    Well, I have to disagree with Lynn about this one! Flynn displayed a good grasp of language and an interesting approach to articulating what’s going on inside her characters’ heads. That said, I really disliked Gone Girl.

    I would give it a rating of C, if only for the crummy ending. But there was also the fact that I did not like any of the characters (I need someone to root for!) and that half-way through, one character made a significant error in judgment that seemed very *out* of character to me. I could not buy that the character would have made this “slip up,” I guess you could call it.

    Thumbs down from me. But YMMV. I’m curious to see what others thought.

    • LynnAAR says:

      I’ve actually heard that same criticism from other people who’ve read this book, too. I agree that it’s really hard to root for anyone in this book, but I did find the psychology of the story fascinating and I think that’s why I enjoyed it so much. And yeah, that ending was something.

  2. Tee says:

    I really enjoyed the book, but then I love Flynn’s weird style of writing anyway. I wondered if I would like it because I didn’t get it until the hype was in full swing and that usually creates unrealistic expectations in a book (or movie) for me. However, this story held out for me. I thought it was a bit slow in the beginning, also; but when it grabbed, it never let go. I truly did not see the ending coming, so that was a wonderful surprise and, actually, in retrospect, the only way to really complete it. Crazy and weird, but I liked it.

  3. Susan/DC says:

    I enjoyed Gone Girl but have to say that I guessed what was going on fairly early, the result of having read many mysteries over the years. For example, Agatha Christie’s “Who Killed Roger Ackroyd”, is similar in some ways and it preceded Flynn’s book by over 70 years (not to mention Christie’s real-life 11-day disappearance which caused much gossip at the time and is a bit similar to Amy’s). What made the book interesting was seeing how Flynn took this trope and these characters and made them come alive, even if more or less unlikable.

  4. LeeB. says:

    I agree with Amy’s point about the wordiness and Lori’s point about having someone to root for.

    I also wanted to take a shower after I finished the book.

  5. HeatherS AAR says:

    I honestly am not sure what grade I would assign Gone Girl. It was kind of a mixed bag for me. It was compelling and I finished the story quickly, but as far as actually *liking* the story? Not so much.

  6. Ellie says:

    I agree with Lynn completely. I read the book and still can’t understand the hype its gotten. For a good woman’s fiction read try The Shoemaker’s Wife. No mystery involved but characters you can hold close and believe in.