Monday, December 3, 2012

A few belated thoughts on Gone Girl

I know everyone's pretty much over talking about Gone Girl by now, but because of all the hype, the waiting list for it at my city's library was very long and so I only just finished it this weekend. So if anyone still cares about my opinion of it at this point: It was okay, I guess? It was certainly cleverly constructed, and I think that was basically my problem with it. It felt like the form and the author's cleverness were foregrounded, and the actual characters and plot were almost incidental. At a certain point, I just kept thinking "Sure, Gillian Flynn, you're smart. Is that what you want to hear?" It read very much like the literary equivalent of a parlor trick, and it was a good parlor trick, but as a novel it seemed pretty mediocre.

I might have liked it better were it not marketed as a mystery. (Important point: I have no idea if Flynn herself thought of it that way, just that that was how it was sold.) Because it was . . . just not very mysterious. The details of how the whole thing was executed were interesting to read, but the basic "solution" seemed transparent from the beginning. (It did make me wonder whether people who found it more surprising/compelling have read fewer mysteries in general. That might explain some of the "This is so unique and shocking!" hype. And that's fine! I don't expect people to have read the same things as me. I'm just trying to figure out why my reaction was so different from many of the reactions I read.)

I am curious to see what the movie ends up being like, because I can't imagine how the trick of the book could possibly be pulled off on screen - mostly because of that specific text that figures so largely in the book. But maybe they've figured this out. We'll see.

Oh, one more thing - a lot has been said about the unlikeability of the characters, but I don't think that was the main thing that made me fairly cold to the book. As usual, I care much more about whether characters are interesting than whether I like them.

1 comment:

  1. I just started reading it today, and I had some of the same thoughts (about the cleverness--not the ending, yet).

    It also reminds me a bit of Defending Jacob by William Landay--or at least I suspect that the ending will. Defending Jacob wasn't marketed as a mystery, but people had told me the ending was amazing, and I wasn't entirely impressed. It was interesting, and not terribly written, but I just didn't quite get the hype. I suspect this may be true of Gone Girl, as well. I'll let you know what I think when I finish it.