I was so excited when my copy of Gone Girl hit the library, because many people had recommended it–and recommended it highly. I now want to find each person who highly recommended it and lock them in a room with Martha Stewart, Donald Trump, Gary Glitter and Caligula. I figure those recommenders must find it great fun to hang out with cruel, self-obsessed, and intolerable people. Aside from one secondary character who turns out okay in the latter pages, the folks who make up this novel are awful. Told in alternating first person by husband Nick and wife Amy we get to read all about how terrible the Internet is for costing him his movie reviewing gig at a magazine. We get to read how tragic it s that her trust fund is dwindling (awwww) and that they have to rent a fancy house upon relocating to Missouri. Life sure is HARD for Nick and Amy!
It gets harder for them–and us–as the novel progresses and then you hit the Big Twist.
I’ll tell you right now….and this is a PARTIAL SPOILER…
If you want a REAL twist, read Jeffery Deaver or O. Henry. Those authors can craft a story in such a way that the twist comes as an artful surprise born out of the story’s construction.
It is NOT a “twist” to simply tell the reader one thing for half the book and then suddenly say “ha! Fooled you! That wasn’t true. It was all fake.” I completely LOATHE the Unreliable Narrator method of storytelling anyway, and to use that lazy construct and call it a “twist” is just…ugh.
As a writer I have to admit that I don’t understand how some authors can live in a world wholly peopled by bleak constructs. These worlds of pure grimness and falsehood are torture for me to hang around for a couple of hours. I can’t fathom what life must be like for a person who spends whole months listening to the dictated whims of these characters.
To be clear on one thing I need to emphatically state that I don’t mind flawed characters in the least. In fact, I rather prefer them overall, because they are far more interesting to watch. But people can be flawed on multiple levels without being unredeemable, Magwich. It’s when they are almost cartoonishly dark, peopling a universe without light and honour that makes a story untenable for me. Gone Girlwas one of those jagged rocks of a story, for sure.