When I posted a Facebook status alerting the world that I was reading Gone Girl (I was only about 30 pages in at the time, but already having some feels), I got responses like, "I still can't figure out whether I enjoyed that book or couldn't stand it," and "I think it's brilliant," and "hahahahaha just wait," and "I didn't put it down lol." I wasn't sure which camp I'd end up falling into.
Because I didn't read it until years after its release, I knew a lot about the book before I started it — I worried maybe even too much to enjoy it properly. For example, I knew that there was a twist somewhere in the middle, and that nothing was going to turn out as I expected. I knew there were some doubts people had about the book because of possible sexism. I was also pretty sure I remembered something about the kidnapped girl faking her own death, but I wasn't sure about that part. All of which put me on alert. I was actually nervous.
And yet, even though I knew so much going in, even though I had my hackles raised and was already wondering how the Gone Girl movie adaptation had handled things, even though I was unable to stop analyzing the sexism, even though I could tell where the twist was going to be because of that ominous black page separating the two vital parts of the book... despite all those "even thoughs," and maybe even because of them, I enjoyed Gone Girl on a whole different — and possibly deeper — level.
So are you late to the Gone Girl game like me? Seen the movie but haven't read the book yet? Gearing up for a reread? Here are the reasons I loved Gone Girl even though I read it after seemingly everyone (and their extended family and pets) read it already:
I confess, this surprised me. I thought the writing was going to be meh. Instead, the sentences are well put-together, the voices of each character are really strong, and the pacing is amazing. Some bestsellers are written so they're super-readable, but it's rare to find those bestsellers that are both well- and smartly written.
I knew Nick was a tricky character, so I trusted him even when I wasn't supposed to
Which was actually really fun, because even though he keeps saying "this was a lie" or "that was a lie," I kept thinking, I bet he's lying about things unrelated to Amy, though. I was drawn to him because I had this foreknowledge that he wasn't as bad a guy as we're supposed to think he is. Plus, there's a perverse kind of honesty to him telling the reader that he's lying. It actually makes him more trustworthy, which is confusing (and awesome).
I noticed the sexism immediately, but started thinking about it rather than just getting annoyed
I was constantly thinking: "Is this intentional? It's gotta be intentional. Right? What if it isn't? Can Amy be such a sap? But she can't be because of that expression, 'The Cool Girl,' which is so freaking on point. Also, no writer who's as smart as Gillian Flynn has to be (again, good writing) can be doing this unintentionally." I realized that having been warned about the sexism and noticing it right from the start, I was able to think about it the whole way through. I got to analyze every part, from Nick's infidelity to Amy's pretended attempts to be anyone other than she is. I enjoyed the book a lot more — and was far less annoyed at it — because I went in knowing this.
I started building theories about the TWIST right from the start
- My first theory was that Nick was totally in on Amy's disappearance but hadn't murdered her.
- My second theory was that yeah, there's no way Amy's dead.
- My third theory was that there was no way Amy's diary entries were super real. Because, come on, how could they be? She was just too... too Amazing Amy. It felt false.
Knowing the TWIST was coming made everything more suspenseful
You know how when you watch a horror film or a thriller and you know exactly where the scary/surprising bits are? But you still tense up before them because what would be the fun if you didn't? And you tense up even more in anticipation exactly because you know when they're coming?
Yeah. That was me.
I felt super-smart when the TWIST finally did come
Because I was like, YES, I got it right! Diary Amy was so false!
It was awesome to discover that Amy was a serious sociopath
Because no one had told me that part, and I haven't seen the movie yet so I don't know how she comes across in that, but that she was so cold and calculated and actually brilliant? That checked all my boxes for "things I love in protagonists" (because yes, I sometimes like my protagonists to be terrifying).
The story got even more involved and insane after the TWIST
Which I totally wasn't expecting, because when everyone keeps talking up that one moment, that TWIST, you assume that it's all going to go downhill from there. But instead, it was a steep climb and just got better and better (and my nails got shorter and shorter).
Holy crap, that ending though. Why was nobody talking about the ending?
Whether it was in order to avoid spoilers or because people thought the ending wasn't as big a deal as that big TWIST, it was the ending of the book that really made it all come together for me. All the insanity was worth it. All the doubts I had were worth it. All the sexism and assumptions about gender roles? They come together at the end in a perfect bow. But it's not a cute bow. It's more like the kind of bow you tie around Houdini's ankles or something, the kind of knot no one's supposed to find a way out of.
Images / Ilana Masad / giphy (9)