I am fully aware that recommending Gone Girl at this point is like making sure that everyone knows that Apple makes a nice phone. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, seems like the book of the summer and everyone has read it/is reading it/is recommending it. Well, that’s because it’s AWESOME. I picked it up to read on a business trip, thinking that it was a sizable enough book it should last few though a few days of work and travel. I started it when I got to the airport, read like a mad person, and finished it before I even got to my destination. It made summer afternoon air travel–which included thunderstorm delays, a drunk guy getting escorted off the plane, and a transfer in Charlotte (haaaate)–all seem enjoyable.
I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but it’s the story of a woman who has gone missing, a la Dateline or 48 Hours or one of those awful-true crime shows. Did her husband do it? He claims to be innocent, but each chapter reveals a new bit of information that makes the reader swing back and forth between being sure he’s guilty and having no idea what happened. I believe that people call books like this “literary mysteries” or “literary thrillers,” maybe to try to make themselves feel better about reading a really exciting, plot-driven book? But there’s no need to worry on that front–it is a thriller, but what makes the book stand out are the really finely-drawn characters and focused writing. Even though your perceptions of the husband and wife are constantly changing, they feel like very complete, real people, and there is not an unnecessary word in the book. And the plot twists make the reading experience a bit like a roller coaster. The fabulous Linda Holmes from Pop Culture Happy Hour said that when she read this there was a point at which something happened, and she actually closed the book and hugged it. And I know exactly what point she’s talking about because I DID THAT TOO. My airplane seatmate thought I was crazy. I don’t care how many thrillers and mystery novels you’ve read, this one takes you to new places and does it in new ways.
I should say that this is not a happy books, and you end up spending hours of time with unlikeable people doing despicable things. I felt sort of icky when I had finished, but I was enthralled the whole time. If you have a plane flight or jury duty or just a free weekend day coming up, and you need a book that will make eight hours feel like nothing, Gone Girl should be at the top of your list.