did not finish: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (audio)

gone girlI couldn’t do it, friends. This is a very well-known and much-loved novel of the last few years, and the word on the street is DON’T READ ANYTHING ABOUT IT before you read it! So I will say very little. Repeat: this is a spoiler-free, very short review.

There is a mystery. I did not read far enough to solve it. I am not very bothered by this. The reason I put it down so easily was: I didn’t like the characters. Possibly this is part of the trickiness of the book somehow; this book is famously tricky (I believe there is something about an unreliable narrator? but there are two narrators? I don’t know). But for me, the big failure was that I didn’t like these people so I couldn’t care about them enough to keep reading (listening) through the fact that they annoyed me very much. That’s all.

My audio version read by Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborne was fine. They read the characters as obnoxious people, which seems to have been right on point, so I guess they did their jobs.

No rating; I only made it about 1/5 of the way through, so I’ll leave it at that.

7 Responses

  1. Boy, this book has certainly got a lot of push these days. I’m interested to hear (read) your reaction.

    I think it’s too simple to say that characters (even lead characters) need to be “likable.” Macbeth, Hamlet, Charles Foster Kane.. I could go on and on, Chinatown is a great movie, but nobody in it is even remotely likable. But they all have something that hooks you, that makes you want to know what happen to them. If you don’t have that, you’ll lose me.

    I’ve just been writing a scene with a character I’ve been writing about for 40 years — a mass murderer, and this is the first time I’ve really got inside her head (third person limited, not first person). Is she likable? Maybe, but definiely not for everybody. I do hope she’s compelling, though.

    • You put your finger on it. I agree, we don’t need our characters to always be likable; in fact, ambivalence towards the character is often the most compelling option. I don’t have to like them – but! I DO have to care what happens to them. I think I used the word “annoying” a time or two in this review… Getting on my nerves and inspiring no interest in a character’s fate, is a good combination for me to put the book down. Pretty simple.

      Perhaps I should also review the fact that I’m pretty quick to put a book down – after years of training, I make great efforts to not spend my precious reading time on the less-than-amazing.

      Good luck with your mass murderer!! Always nice to have you, Anthony.

  2. Ah, too bad. This is f-ed up book that I still think about sometimes. It’s one of those that I want to read again, because I know I missed things the first time around (hindsight and all).

    • I wish you joy on a second reading!

      Now that I’ve given up, can you tell me – did YOU like the beginning?? Do the people get any more sympathetic? (Sympathetic often meaning likable; but I think a person can be sympathetic without being likable, too. Maybe this is one of those instances.)

  3. I don’t remember not liking the beginning.

    I do think the characters are a bit sympathetic, but mostly it’s just a crazy story. I don’t mind characters that I don’t like, as long as the story intrigues me.

    Sorry I can’t speak to it more than that — I just don’t remember details much. I read this on maternity leave, so a lot of that time is a blur!

    I would suggest seeing the movie when it comes out (though I’ve heard they are changing the ending, so maybe not…). It has the potential to make a great movie, and if you don’t like it it’s only 2 hours of your life. 🙂

    • Gotcha on all counts – thanks, Valerie!

      “I don’t mind characters that I don’t like, as long as the story intrigues me.” …I think you got it just right.

      The movie… hm. It might be worth knowing how the book ended, if it comes to that. We shall see. Is the movie already underway? How about that. Hey, the book was a big hit! I’m not surprised there’s already a movie.

  4. […] This is off-topic and perhaps not highly relevant to the arguments we’re working on here, but I couldn’t let it pass by. Hello, unreliable narrators?? I guess Malcolm’s area of expertise lies in nonfiction, journalism, rather than literary criticism or *novels* – but really! I was surprised that she would make such a blanket statement that “fiction is true”. Just a few example of classic unreliable narrators that I have read might include Humbert Humbert of Lolita (she wanted it, right?), Chief Bromden in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Nick in The Great Gatsby, that guy from Fight Club, Lockwood from my old favorite Wuthering Heights, and (famously, recently, and for me, unreadably) the two narrators of Gone Girl. […]

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