Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

 

Gone Girl
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn Published May 2012 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson 395 Pages (Hardcover)

The Quick Non-Spoilery Bit

Gone Girl is part crime-drama, part psychological thriller that follows the aftermath of the disappearance of Amy Elliot Dunne, who has vanished from her home in a whirlwind of glass and overturned furniture on the morning of her fifth wedding anniversary. Nick Dunne, her husband, becomes the prime suspect after calling it in, when his whereabouts that morning cannot be corroborated. His narrative and Amy’s diary entries provide a slowly more intimate peak into their unstable life together as the hunt for Amy and her kidnapper and/or killer heats up.

I picked this up finally because it’s becoming a movie this October. I’d heard about it before, it’s relatively popular, and I knew it was considered a dark and intense twist on a murder mystery. It certainly was dark and twisted, and it was reasonably well composed and plotted. I just could not connect to it. A lot of people really love Gone Girl with good reason, but I personally found it did not meet my expectations. Mystery fans might like it. Crime drama or true crime fans even more so. I’m not crowing from rooftops over it, and I think those that do are overstating its genius, but if it sounds at all interesting to you, it might be worth the read. I didn’t love it, but I can’t say I don’t recommend it. It just wasn’t for me. Thus, I give it 3 stars: nothing was objectively horrible about it, it just did not succeed as a mystery/thriller for me. I will probably wind up going to see the movie though. I really love the trailer:

I think it sets a good atmosphere, with the music all creepy playing over top for most of it, yet it explains the plot pretty well. The casting looks great too.

 

Now I’ll talk about the book a little more, but it’s hard to without getting more into the plot and getting more into the plot of a mystery novel inevitably leads to spoilers. So if you haven’t read Gone Girl and would like to, I suggest you click away now.

 

 

 

Ok? Here we go.

 

 

Here be Spoilers

Like I said, I didn’t hate it. I was just not into it. I started out thinking Nick had killed Amy. Then quickly shifted to think he didn’t, because I could tell I was supposed to be thinking he did. Then I was bored and flipped ahead to see if I was right and got a bit more interested when I read briefly that Amy was alive and had left under her own power.  Part 2 was then much more interesting  as everything up to and including Amy’s psychosis is revealed.  I thought that this was a good twist, I just didn’t have the patience to wait for it. My own fault, I suppose, but I was about ready to put this book down around page 120, tired of waiting around for Nick and everyone else to figure out that Amy was alive somewhere.

I’m too used to the crime drama that can be consumed an hour, I think. One a one hour show, guessing the bad guy is half the fun, and you’re proven right rather quickly. Meanwhile you get the other fraction of your enjoyment out of the relationships within the crime-solving team. A lack of such likable characters is probably part of the genesis of  my complaint with Gone Girl. I suppose, that the characters are not likable is the point, but it made it exceedingly difficult to find a reason to hang on in places where the plot, inevitably, as plots do, slowed down.

Part 3, where Amy returns, was rather fascinating. The depth of her depravity made Nick finally seem pitiable by contrast, and the ending was fittingly twisted and dark. It’s the only part of the book I wished had gone on a bit longer as months pass in a few short pages. I thought the ending fit the story, assuming the “we’re perfect for each other!” rhetoric was not meant in earnest, as I thought it completely misguided. I think it was meant, rather, as yet another example of how twisted their minds are, one final barb, just in case you weren’t feeling disturbed enough already.

And that’s all I have to say, I suppose, normally here is where I reiterate my review and give a recommendation, but hopefully the only people who’ve read this far have already read the book and don’t need to hear the it…unless you ignored my spoiler warning like a rebel. A a very sad, spoiled rebel.

Review: The Archived series by Victoria Schwab

 

The Archived
The Archived by Victoria Schwab Published January 2013 by Hyperion 328 Pages (Hardcover)

The Archived had been on and off my radar for awhile, but I finally picked it up last month and I was so glad I did. It’s a very well written blend of fantasy and contemporary, with a concept I found very intriguing. I give both it and its sequel, The Unbound, a 4/5 stars. And I eagerly anticipate the third book, which I hope will come out next year at the latest, though no word on any upcoming release just yet.

Summary

The Archived follows Mackenzie Bishop, who took over her grandfather’s position as a Keeper for the Archive when she was only 12. Now, at 16, Mackenzie has been hunting Histories through the Narrows and returning them to the Archive before they can reach the outside world for four tumultuous years. It’s a solitary, secret job, keeping the sort-of living records of the dead in line, but Mackenzie has learned how to carefully manage it all. Her life is in upheaval, however, as her family moves in the wake of her younger brother’s tragic death. Before she can even begin to settle in the old hotel that is her new apartment complex, with its dark memories and mystery plain for her to see, Mackenzie is bombarded with an upswing in the number and strength of the Histories on her list as the unshakable Archive is attacked from within. Mackenzie then must piece everything together in a fight that threatens the whole of the Archive, and every living memory that resides in it.

Review

So one thing I really, really admire about The Archived, especially after attempting to write a decent summary of it, is the way it manages to weave exposition into plot. I never felt overly confused, but I was also never bored or bogged down in some detail rich explanation of something. It came together quickly, for a concept that I just discovered is difficult to explain (though a book never has to worry about spoiling itself!)

Mackenzie was a very good character. She’s strong. Strong to a fault, really, which was even more interesting. I really enjoyed the dynamic with her family as well, her parents are an integral part of her life and her story, for all that they stand entirely outside the more fantastic elements of it. The stress and strain of tragedy on a family was handled quite realistically, in my (un-experienced) opinion. Wes, fellow Keeper and Mackenzie’s eventual love interest, was such a great character as well. A bit angsty, to be sure, but sarcastic without being biting and good-natured without seeming impossibly perfect. Their romance developed quite nicely over the course of both books. No starry-eyed, fate-induced babbling, just two people with a lot in common and a lot to figure out slowly growing closer. I loved it.

The Unbound
The Unbound by Victoria Schwab Published January 2014 by Hyperion 368 pages (Hardcover)

The only negative thing I can say is that book 2, The Unbound, was a bit of downer after all the fascinating intensity of the first. It was lighter on the action, pushing that aside to deal with some more internal struggles that came in the wake of the events of The Archived. It was good, and I definitely loved where it went in the end, but it was just a little less easy to get sucked into. And it was a tad frustrating, watching Mackenzie struggle while knowing what is was she should probably be doing. The whodunnit bit was predictable to me in both books as well, but especially so in The Unbound.

Wrap-Up

Overall, the story operates on so many levels giving it a complexity that I would never have suspected such a short couple of books to have. Mackenzie’s dealing with the mundane and the fantastic and the two interweave in a way that makes both more interesting. The more mundane idea of coping with the sudden and unexpected death of a sibling is complicated by the fact that a version of that sibling is technically within reach, though he can never really be alive again. Underneath everything is this constant undercurrent of suspicion against the Archive itself. No one can really be trusted. Ever. So it’s fascinating to watch Mackenzie figure out who to trust, who to fight for, and determine what it is she really wants. It does what so few YA fantasies endeavor to do and weaves the mundane aspects of it’s characters normal teenage lives into the plot, enriching the story even more. I definitely recommend it and look forward to getting my hands on the conclusion one of these months!

 

Book Buying

So I wrote this whole review on The Archived by Victoria Schwab last night and came back just now to finish it and…it’s totally gone. I mean, it’s there, but I didn’t save it, so it’s just this one half sentence instead of the 800 words or whatever I had started yesterday. I can’t quite bear the rewriting of it just yet, but I was just watching a video of The Readables  doing this tag and I thought I could handle a few quick questions:

1. How many unread books do you own?

50. That sounds insane, but what’s actually insane is I actually recently made a whole excel spreadsheet cataloging every book I own, so that was a really easy question to answer.It’s a big number to be sure though, and it’s gone up rather than down over the course of this year, but I’m really excited about a good number of them.
2. How many books do you own that you have read?

My spreadsheet tells me 371, but at least 15 or so of those are ebook novellas, so right around 355. Mostly physical copies, but some of those audio and ebooks as well.

3. Do you buy more books than you read?

At my current book purchasing rate, yes. I’m on this kind of insane kick of buying things I originally read from the library, but love enough to own and filling out series that I started out borrowing and then purchased the most recent installments when I couldn’t get my hands on them fast enough. So not everything I buy is unread. But, at the moment, yes. Though I’m really trying to change that trend.

4. Why do you think you haven’t read your unread books?

A good number of them I really want to read and will read this year sometime. I just have a sheer volume problem at the moment. There are too many for me to have read because I’ve bought or received so many so recently. There are 20 or so that have been hanging around for a very long while. I usually bought these on a whim, or at a discounted price or so long ago that I’ve lost interest in reading it. I should get rid of these, but I always look at them and think “Maybe someday…”

5. Are you going to go on a book buying ban?

I more or less just came off of one. Until February I was working only half time for minimum wage and using that money for student loan payments. Before that I was unemployed for a few months and I couldn’t afford to buy all the books I wanted to. I used the library like crazy and restrained my book buying to one had-to-have it sequel every couple of months. Now that I’m working and financially a lot more stable, I’m relishing being able to buy what I want, and though I’ve gone a little nuts, I don’t want to stop having fun with it. I am trying to plan my purchases though (it’s a tab on the spreadsheet), and keep pace with them, rather than outright banning myself. I like it, because I still get that new book feel, but it helps restrain the guilt to know I thought about and researched what I really wanted. Better chance I’ll read it that way as well.