So. I've had a lot of people recommend this book to me since it was released (and one person vehemently UNRECOMMEND it to me), but to me the most poweSo. I've had a lot of people recommend this book to me since it was released (and one person vehemently UNRECOMMEND it to me), but to me the most powerful recommendation was from someone who was actual a fan of Gillian Flynn's books prior to the release of "Gone Girl." This book was over-hyped right out of the gate, and having spent nearly a decade working in a bookstore, I automatically get suspicious and wary of books that are insta-best-sellers. Not that some of those books don't deserve the praise - a lot of them DO. But sometimes there's crap on the bestseller lists, admit it, and it's hard to sift through that crap, and discern which readers are only reading from the small range of pop titles and think it's the best crap ever written based on the comparison of other crap and then trying to get you to read that crap too, and which readers read widely and love a pop title based on its actual merits. Does that make sense? Am I total snob? Whatever.
Okay. So. I had one person recommend the audiobook to me, and to whoever that was, I THANK YOU, because this was a truly amazing experience. The two actors were both completely fantastic, and I was impressed with how they handled having to portray opposite gender - including each other's characters. I also really appreciated that even the minor characters had very distinct voices. I was put off by the length of this audio for a while, as I typically don't like to listen to audiobooks longer than 8-10 discs. Also, this is a genre of fiction that is outside of my usual reading zone. I honestly don't know how that affected my reading experience. Anyway, after a year or so of avoiding the longest title in my audiobook library, I decided to just go for it as the movie release date approacheth. It's not that I care about reading a book before seeing the movie anymore (I gave that up a long time ago), but that I knew that it would be impossible to avoid spoilers once the movie came out.
I haven't actually said anything about the book itself yet. But is there really anything else I can possibly add that someone else didn't already say? I know this book gets a lot of flack for having "unlikable" characters, which, to me, is a ridiculous declaration. Of COURSE they are unlikable. Isn't that the entire damn point? But I relished these characters. They were so full-blooded and completely real to me. I had a very intense reading experience, thanks, I am sure, to the audiobook. I felt so involved with these characters, and I did not care that they they were not likable. No one is likable when you get that up close and personal with them, embroiled within their unfiltered thoughts. And that, for me, was the overarching thesis of the novel, if a novel can have a thesis, that is. That, of course, anyone can seem cool and awesome and sexy at a distance. But once you get really involved with someone, you both go through a transformation. I felt that this book really was a meditation on marriage, and how marriage changes you, for better or for worse. The ideas and expectations and everything you made up about a person falls away and you are left with the reality of having united yourself with this person. You know how to push each other's buttons and to say what they want to hear. You are essentially going through a course of study on a person, a course in which there are constant tests and no vacations, but one in which you will eventually become an expert -- whether you like it or not. This is all neatly summed up in the line: “There's a difference between really loving someone and loving the idea of her.”
I have gotten really off track. What I am saying here is that I enjoyed the book, that it deserves the praise and the hype, that it has given me a LOT to think about it, and is so much more than a suspense thriller. Oh, and listen to the audio.
I didn't get to talk about how I really felt the Missouri setting come alive, or that Gillian Flynn's prose is magnificent (especially when realizing the precision that went into making the two narrators sound so different from one another, even when it comes down to the slight subtleties of grammar). I didn't get to discuss the is a fascinating thread woven throughout about how infectious the media is and how it makes us conform to an expected ideal, nor did I get to touch on all the provocative insights Amy has on gender. But this isn't some freakin' college essay. So I think I'll just end here. ...more