Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Overall a great read!
As you likely already know, this book has two parts. First part, husband’s story of a marriage to an underhanded wife and the wife’s side through journal entries that become increasingly frightened of husband’s potential for violence. Second part, wife’s voice, turns out she’s in hiding and trying to frame her husband for her death.
Sounds like a great twist. And it is but there are some flaws that detract from the novel (but not, mind you, enough to ruin the great fun you’re going to have reading this book!). Because I’m an author, I’m going to look at those flaws here. Because I’m a reader, I’ll also note what was done really well!
First, part one. Great stuff, a guy who’s a little bitter but not enough to put off readers, with enough self-knowledge on the man’s part to hint at something more…whether he’s unreliable in part or in full, or whether he’s a psychopath lying outright is part of the intrigue that kept me reading. Score one!
The terrible part was the wife’s journal entries. Just so syrupy, so peppy and chick-lit-y, that I nearly put the book down several times in the opening 50 pages or so. But the husband’s narrative was so compelling I decided to suck it up and suffer through the journal entries in order to experience the book.
Of course, the argument can be made that the journal was false all along so any flaws reflect the wife’s lies. But people who pick up a dark suspense novel aren’t primarily those who read perky women’s lit, so there should have been more in the journal entries to ensure readers didn’t turn away. But that’s more a personal opinion. Clearly publishers and other readers didn’t have a problem with that!
Now part two. Great start, roared through most of the first half of the second part. Then came the issues, most dealing with believability. The scheme she has is great, workable on most fronts. But then she’s robbed by her neighbors in a rather bold way, and the boldness of that plot isn’t realistic. There are many ways to take someone’s cash even if they do carry it around all the time, and some of those ways are far less risky than what’s enacted here. So the narrative lost some believability there.
After being robbed, the wife falls back on a stalkerish ex-sort-of boyfriend from her past. He’s wealthy and ends up imprisoning her in a walled compound on his property…which itself is sort of odd and pushes the realm of believability on the surface. But really it functions as a parallel in this plotline. She has captured others and now is captive herself! What a stroke!
She kills him in order to get free. Fair enough, and even expected in this type of work. But then she manipulates details to keep her husband at her side. This part I found totally off the mark. I won’t say what she does because I don’t want to spoil anything for other readers but when you get to the end, you’ll see what I mean. The husband doesn’t consider the options that could release him and another innocent involved, making him a schlub. He’s not a schlub, as proven by his narrative in the first part. So the end isn’t entirely believable for me.
However, the big fail is mostly at the end. So, the rest of it provides an exceptional read. That makes it a great bet in my book!