So I'm adding another list type post - 3 things I loved and 2 things I didn't (as I'm sure you gathered from the title of this post). I won't be doing this every time - in fact, I try to stick with books that I really like. But I was an English major and I do think critically about the things I read, so every once in a while I want to look at what made a book just not quite fully work for me.
And my first book is, of course, the wildly popular and soon-to-be-movie-adapted novel by Gillian Flynn: Gone Girl.
Basic premise: Nick and Amy have been married five years. On their fifth anniversary Amy goes missing and suddenly Nick finds himself in the middle of an investigation where more and more clues start pointing to him as a suspect.
The novel goes back and forth between Nick and Amy's narration, jumping around in time to some extent.
And that's all you're going to get here, because this is one of those novels where significant plot points will be revealed if you describe it too much. Down below, under the giant spoiler warning I will discuss a couple of points in more detail.
So here are the three things I loved about the book:
- The narrative voices of the two characters: Nick and Amy are so distinct and vivid. They really live in the story, which impacts our perception of the story as we're only getting their view of things. There are definite elements of "unreliable narrator" which I love and which complicate the characters and the situations that develop throughout the book.
- The basic premise of the book: I suppose this is classified as a thriller, but it has mystery elements in it as well. It's not really either, but is both and I just really liked the way Flynn developed the premise.
- Unexpected: I literally never knew what to expect. Ever. When I hit part 2 it took me about fifteen minutes to pick my jaw up off the floor. And it continually startled, surprised, and engaged me. I wanted to know what had happened! And this is one of the main things that kept me reading.
- The profanity: There is very little of it in the first part of the book, but it become increasingly pervasive as the book progresses. I intellectually understand the reasoning behind some of it (pardon vagueness as I try not to spoil), but much of it felt completely gratuitous. Much of it made me distinctly uncomfortable. Some of it was so bad that I almost gave up on the book. It was only my curiosity that kept me going. I don't remember where I heard this, but someone pointed out that you never miss profanity. You rarely say, man, that would have been better if the characters had been more foul-mouthed. I know that I have high standards when it comes to language, but I also know that I'm not the only one. I know that Flynn could have gotten across her point without the heavy-handed use of profanity. A lot of times, this kind of pervasive use of it can almost feel like laziness. Like the author is using profanity as a crutch to tell us how the character is rather than to show it. And here, Flynn shows it really well - the language wasn't necessary to get the point across.
- The ending: I "understand" why the ending happened the way it did. From looking at other people's comments I'm pretty sure the ending was completely polarizing. People either really liked it or it ruined the whole book for them. I'm in the ruined the book camp. I can't think of many times I've ever been so completely dis-satisfied with the ending of a book. It wasn't just that I didn't like it, it was just deeply and utterly unsatisfying for me.