Image from The Single Diaries

I started reading Gone Girl on my journey back to Sydney from Cobar, so this was a good two three four months ago. This was also meant to be a December Read-a-thon post that never went up. Forgive my slacking with these book reviews, I am reading a lot but I am also always fighting a losing battle against my drafts folder. I have joined Good Reads so if you want to be up to date on what I am reading, or if you want good recommendations please find me here! We can also be friends 😀

“Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.

Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men – friends, coworkers, strangers – giddy over these awful pretender women, and I’d want to sit these men down and calmly say: You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them. I’d want to grab the poor guy by his lapels or messenger bag and say: The bitch doesn’t really love chili dogs that much – no one loves chili dogs that much! And the Cool Girls are even more pathetic: They’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be. Oh, and if you’re not a Cool Girl, I beg you not to believe that your man doesn’t want the Cool Girl. It may be a slightly different version – maybe he’s a vegetarian, so Cool Girl loves seitan and is great with dogs; or maybe he’s a hipster artist, so Cool Girl is a tattooed, bespectacled nerd who loves comics. There are variations to the window dressing, but believe me, he wants Cool Girl, who is basically the girl who likes every fucking thing he likes and doesn’t ever complain. (How do you know you’re not Cool Girl? Because he says things like: “I like strong women.” If he says that to you, he will at some point fuck someone else. Because “I like strong women” is code for “I hate strong women.”)”

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn:

Rating: ★★★

I went flipping through my Kindle and the internet for a good quote to open this blog post and had to put this one up. It is a gargantuan two-paragraph monster that will probably be longer than this blog itself but I couldn’t resist for two reasons: One because it is hilarious and brilliant and two, because it’s really the only part of the book that I like. The core of Gone Girl revolves around Nick and Amy Dunne’s rocky relationship. The book is told through dual alternating narratives of both characters. This technique is what hooks Flynn’s audience, the story is one and the same but with vastly different perspectives. The kicker is when Nick reveals his infidelity and young mistress and when Amy drops the guise of a happy marriage in her diary and the reader quickly learns that she’s really just a psychotic controlling bitch.

If I am to go with my gut feeling, I would have to say that I didn’t like Gone Girl. One part of me debates that perhaps my distaste of the novel is a true sign of Flynn’s craftsmanship. The characters are completely unlikeable, heck I even found their supposed ‘good sides’ unlikeable because Amy was such a whiny damsel and Nick had no backbone. Having two perspectives I believe is what gave this book so much substance. They both reveal a different side to a single story so putting them together doesn’t create any factual contradictions. This technique is probably (besides the quote) one of the biggest reasons to love this book.

This is where the other part of me argues about why I didn’t like it overall. I love sinister narratives that are intelligent, and if it’s by a woman I am even more for it because they are so rare. But I cannot shake the feeling I get from reading Gone Girl that Amy is evil the way Disney characters are evil, purely for the sake of it. Flynn attempts to peel back at both characters, to show that they have layers and aren’t just vapid, superficial shells but I simply don’t buy it for Amy. Why is Amy so crazy? Why is Desi Collings so crazy about Amy? Is the real world so oblivious to these characters obvious failings that they have managed to come this far (and successfully too) without having met any ramifications until now? Her plans are so elaborate yet go off with nearly no hitch, it’s like watching a Scooby-Doo episode with all the over the top and impractical spookiness that only cartoon characters can execute. There’s also no twist, at no point was a shocked or did I feel like my mind was blown. Just to clarify, a lack of a twist doesn’t make a book bad but when everyone harps on about a twist akin to Christopher Nolan’s great films, it’s a bit of a let down when you’re at the last page and still waiting for something epic to happen.

There’s no room for debate that Flynn is an impeccable writer in practically every aspect – style, structure, composition, and most of her characters – Amy just didn’t convince me. And not liking characters, especially the main character, is a pretty big deal for me because half-way through the book I just wasn’t interested in anything that was going to happen to any of them.

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