Tag Archives: Gone Girl

You Stole My Story

(Disclaimer: I now illuminate the sarcasm warning, the spoiler warning, and feel the need to assure you that I love Gillian Flynn because clearly, girl’s got some good ideas. Author Bashing is never excusable.)

 

Alright Gillian that’s enough.

Stop reading my notes.

Stop reading my thoughts.

And for goodness’ sake. . . stop stealing my stories!

*breathes menacingly for thirty seconds*

I was fine with your repeated mentions of the Death Penalty. Ditto the sociopath framing someone for murder. That’s what sociopaths do, right? Heck, I just finished watching Hannibal, that great NBC show about Dr. Lecter and his pet FBI Special Agent Will Graham, and, not to give anything way, but. . . that’s what sociopaths do. Bad things they can blame on others. So you’re fine there.

I was also okay with the creepy southern towns and abandoned buildings, the Flannery O’Connor vibe, distant mothers and challenging views of women. All very reasonable things that do not upset me.

But I just got to the part in Dark Places were Diondra rubs her belly and says the baby’s kicking. That she’s pregnant. That her teenage boyfriend impregnated her, moments after he’s accused of molesting 10-year-olds and hours before he’s arrested for grisly grisly murder that ruins his life.

What gives, eh? I just wrote that, like, last week. After working it out in my head for years.

It’s bad enough that your structure is dangerously close to my structure (which now I probably have to change, no thanks to you), with those chapters alternating between the day of the murders and present-day characters working to solve them. Whose idea was that, anyway? I thought I was being pretty clever with that. Printz Award clever? Perhaps, but now we’ll never know, will we?

But BABY?

That was the opening hook, the setup for the rest of the novel, my entire main character. And now you stole it. You stole my story. You stole my freaking teenage pregnancy you story-stealing, incredibly talented author-person you.

(At least I still have graffiti and Led Zeppelin. If you take those, so help me, I’m gonna go John Shooter on you. And don’t. . . don’t touch the Death Penalty. I see you eyeing it. Death Penalty’s mine. You coulda had your chance, but you put Kansas in a moratorium so there. Chance blown.)

But, really? The chapters alternating between past and present, explaining all the circumstantial evidence they used to put him away? Brilliant. If a little hard to get through and somewhat suspense-deflating. Same problem I’ve been having, so it’s good to know maybe it’s not just me.

(You no-good-story-stealing-teenage-pregnancy-ripping-idea-sucking-incredibly-talented-author-person you.)

And I’m only halfway through Dark Places. Who knows what else of mine you’ve got in there? Been kinda fun discovering it all.

(Again Disclaimer: I mean this solely in good fun and don’t plan on going John Shooter on anyone. It’s actually kinda cool she’s got some of the same ideas as me–just sucks cause she got to them first!)

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Book Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

(with possible mild spoilers)

OMG THIS BOOK

I read this while vacationing on Tybee Island, Georgia, which is a little unfair to my husband. While he slogged through the latest Dan Brown and muttered, “I know where this is going. . . ,” I kept shouting “OMG THIS BOOK IS RIDICULOUS,” scaring the children and seagulls.

(I think that’s why Gone Girl has become as big as it has. Everyone who reads it goes OMG THIS BOOK and runs to share with the nearest human. My copy already has a waiting list. Hurry up, mother-in-law!)

Okay, now some serious reviewage:

When I was younger, I read thrillers all the time. Law and Order and Dateline NBC were my favorite shows, and I inhaled every Joan Lowery Nixon and Caroline B. Cooney I could find. The covers promised instant drama. A girl is kidnapped! Stalkers! Crazed killers! Murder murder murder! (I kind of wish there were more people writing books like this for young readers. Having written one unintentional thriller that almost made me break pencils in my brother’s eye, I know that person is probably not me.)

Around high school though, my interests moved onto things like dystopia, magical realism, and serious literary allusions (SANDMAN SANDMAN AMERICAN GODS SANDMAN). I looked for books that took me to fantastic and terrifying places. Well, I still do, but now I realize that the most terrifying place is within the human mind itself.

Gone Girl begins with a husband waxing poetic on the unknowable qualities of his wife’s head, down to the very coils of her brain. On their fifth anniversary the wife goes missing, instantly casting suspicion on the husband, because, as several characters point out, the husband is always a suspect. The first half of the book shows him digging himself further and further into the hole of suspicion, making us wonder just what the heck is wrong with him and genuinely want to beat him over the head with the stick of common sense. Alternating chapters of the wife’s diary help paint a more complete picture of this troubled marriage.

I must say, the first half of the book is difficult to get through. I gave up for several weeks before coming back, out of lack of anything else to read. (I will admit this happens surprisingly often for a girl which giant stacks of unread books.) There was so much family backstory to get through, and while it does seem necessary to fully realizing the story and was told in a lively voice, it was still backstory. Chunks of it. That was hard to get through and hard to keep straight most of the time. I kept having to flip back to catch details I didn’t properly absorb. Also, the diary portions made me groan every time they popped up. A saccharinely-sweet voice of an obnoxious, self-absorbed New York rich girl whining about how she should be more appreciative of her “perfect husband” didn’t make me sympathize with her–it just make her look like a blubbering brat with a victim complex. I was super thrilled when I no longer had to deal with them. (Yes I realize their design BUT I DIDN’T AT THE TIME OKAY.)

BUT, because my friend grabbed me and said OMG THIS BOOK, I soldiered on. And I’m so glad I did. Because once I started to pick up on what was going on, I ran around the house shouting “Sheer genius! Why didn’t I think of that!”

See, right before this I read The Sociopath Next Door, which, despite a lot of marketing hype, really helped me understand the segment of the population that don’t care how others feel and who only want to win. It’s a most foreign concept to me, being a highly sensitive and empathetic person, but also an important one. One of the characters in my WIP may or may not be a sociopath, and it helps to explain how some people in this world can be so mean and eat humans for breakfast. (Really been getting into the TV show Hannibal–check it out! Super empath vs. super psychopath is always good for a laugh.) Anyway, maybe because I’d just read the book, I was able to see the big picture and analyze it from a more “psychological” point of view.

Gone Girl a perfect profile of a sociopath. These people become what you want them to be, only so they can tear out your heart and prove how magnificent and godlike they are. And what Flynn does, extending this idea to freaking MARRIAGE ITSELF, is somewhat terrifying. Completely normal people employ these same dirty tactics. We all want to win, we all want our spouse and everyone else to think we’re awesome. A big part of life is this struggle of power with others, wanting people to like us, constantly presenting versions of ourselves that will attract the most admirers. Because, if you peel back all the layers, what you will find inside each and every one of our heads would scare the living daylights out of those we love. Look at young children: they think the world was invented with them in mind. It’s very, very difficult to grow out of that mindset. Some people never do, sociopathic or not.

That’s the neat thing about Flynn’s writing: her characters are awful people. And yet, we love them anyway. Or if not love, at least we want them to succeed. That makes them pretty fantastic psychological manipulators if you ask me. (I should probably read Lolita next, though I first need to work up the courage.)

In the end, Gone Girl is THEORETICALLY more awesome than how it turned out. I loved it and appreciated what Flynn was able to accomplish, but I can’t help but wonder if what she came up with didn’t exactly fit the vision in her head. I remember Neil Gaiman saying this about one of his books (I think it was The Graveyard Book), that it was the first time what came out on paper perfectly reflected what was in his head. He waited 20 years before writing it, knowing it would take certain skill to pull off correctly. I wonder if perhaps Gone Girl could have used a little more creative gestation (or just better editing; the slogging first half has probably prevented many people from getting to the good parts.)

Verdict: SUPER AWESOME but somewhat disjointed. I felt Sharp Objects was a stronger offering. We’ll see about Dark Places. I’m only halfway through.

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