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[Reading Group] SPOILERS June 2014: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by Philip Overby, May 24, 2014.

  1. monyo

    monyo Scribe

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    I started reading late as well but am enjoying it so far. Regarding character depth, part of it might be that the characters and their world are just more relatable to the audience. It would make it easier for both the author to come up with clever subtleties that elaborate on who the characters really are, and easier for the audience to get something meaningful out of it. As compared to writing about a werewolf and his beloved horse or some such. Less connections get invoked when showing some aspect of the latter relationship, whereas what I've read so far is almost cringe-worthy in how it reminds me of all the love/hate relationships and marriages I've actually seen. An off-hand comment about their relationship gives you deeper insight into all the things it implies, compared to more fantastical characters and worlds where you're already bringing in a good deal of suspension of disbelief, and changing the rules to allow for larger-than-life characters. Consider the amount explanation that has to be given to the audience of how things worked in some far removed time and place. That's only necessary because those connections aren't already in their mind waiting to be invoked with some clever quip. Of course great writing can cram a lot of meaning and context into very few words, even starting with pretty far fetched premises, but it does seem harder than when writing about more familiar situations.

    Though I think the focus on characters vs. things like worldbuilding, concept and plot, and the fewer characters = high wordcount per character is a pretty good explanation. The fantasy genre still seems a lot better off than the scifi genre in this regard. Maybe it's just the stuff I've read, but writing quality and character depth have definitely seemed to have a higher average in fantasy than scifi. It'd be interesting to compare things like that across genres and see what variables are changing to cause the effect.
     
  2. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I think that would be an interesting experiment to conduct. Gather some well-read people together and have them rate which genre does which thing best. One reason I love fantasy so much is because it explores the impossible. If it's too realistic, it sometimes puts me off, but I know some people really like that. I do like Flynn's writing because the smaller cast equals, as you said, a higher word count per character. That way there is more time invested into the main characters and each supporting character has weight or purpose to the plot.

    For example, the "groupie" (I forget her name off-hand, but she takes a selfie with Nick), is integral to the plot because it shows Nick to the public as being this detached weirdo. I do love how often the public opinion changes on Nick throughout the novel. I believe it's somewhat of a critique on just how fickle the public is when it comes to these cases.

    I also like that no one is really innocent in this book. This an element that has bled over to fantasy fiction: the gray or morally ambigious character. Nick is definitely no saint and Amy...geez, I don't even know where to start about her.
     
  3. ACSmyth

    ACSmyth Minstrel

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    I'm somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 of the way through (they have gone to the abandoned mall at night time, and the guy has recognised the picture of Amy).

    I struggled a little with the beginning, as I wasn't getting on with the relentless snark and clever comments/allusions. Then last night I wondered if this was maybe a New York thing. Sorry, New Yorkers, but I can imagine people from there being quite sharp and wise-cracky. I know it's setting characterisation and the tone of their relationship, but to me it was laid on a bit thick. Or again, maybe that's because I'm used to fantasy and I was uncomfortable with that level of characterisation? Don't know. Could even be a Brit thing on my part. Now that I've told myself it's a NY thing (even if that's not true), I'm living with it a bit better.

    Anyway, they are both very unpleasant people. As are their families.

    I make take a while with this one, as I've got my Hugo packet, and I really want to be able to make informed choices, so I have a ton of reading to do.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2014
  4. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

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    As a New Yorker, I'll accept and confirm your characterization of my people.

    On that note, my father emailed me plane tickets about two days before the first of the month for a trip to visit him back in New York, which is why I'm way behind on my reading. I'd have said something before leaving if I'd had more time to prepare.

    Anyway, I'm about a third of the way through the book. I'm struggling with some of Nick's sections. He's an interestingly written character, perhaps moreso than Amy (at least so far), but I find his perspective kind of... dry, I guess? As a character, I prefer him, as a narrator, I am bored by him. I don't like Amy as much, but the way her journal is written is much more enjoyable to read. Otherwise, I like it so far. Better than many thriller/mystery sorts of novels I've read, anyway.
     
  5. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Amy is from New York and Nick is from Missouri. I feel like Nick is painted as being sort of dry because he's from this small town in Missouri, whereas Amy grew up having a character based off her likeness in New York. I think there's a reason Amy is painted as the one who "tries more." I highly recommend anyone that has struggled with the beginning to stick with it. Although I do find the ending quite disappointing (we can discuss that later). By disappointing I don't mean bad, it just made me feel, I don't know...I'll say later. :)

    Strangely enough (or maybe not) I'm seriously considering trying to write a thriller as my next novel (after I wrap up my current one(s)). I always wanted to dabble in different genres, but this book really made me think about how I could put my own spin to whatever genres I come across. I really look up to China Mieville and I think he's an author that does this: tries writing in different styles and genres but with his own unique flair.

    I'd really like to read more stuff like this although I'm not really sure where to start. I always have that problem with certain genres.
     
  6. ACSmyth

    ACSmyth Minstrel

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    LOL! Sorry, Ophiucha. One of those broad generalisations, like Londoners are rude and Scots are mean. I've probably just seen too many American sit-coms where they all have the quick comebacks! ;)

    So far I'm liking the relationship with the Nick and Margo best, as they seem more honest with each other.

    I was a little bugged by the "how many lies he's told" thing. I got that. He hadn't booked a restaurant, but he told the police he had. That establishes that he's prepared to lie. I'm smart enough to work that out.

    And Philip, good luck. I couldn't write a thriller to save myself.
     
  7. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Well, maybe not a thriller, but something like it. :)

    Nick and Margo's relationship is one of the few that paints Nick as a good guy. It seems almost all of his other interactions with people make him look like an aloof jerk. That's part of why I like a lot of the characters in this book. Nick isn't painted as this innocent everyman. He's flawed and his fears of becoming like his father. If anyone reads Dark Places, the MC Libby is also enormously flawed. That's one thing Flynn does very well.
     
  8. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Hi fellow readers!

    I've started Gone Girl several times during the past six months and then gone off and read other books.

    (I've just noticed there's a bit of a pun there.)

    I bought it because it was recommended to me and also the cover says it's the thriller of the year.

    So far I don't like any of the characters. It seems to be a portrait of a bad marriage.

    I've just started part two where we (the readers) begin to discover what's happened to Amy.

    I must admit I have cheated and briefly glimpsed the ending. :D

    I have a feeling I'm not going to like that either!
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2014
  9. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Perhaps this is because I don't often read thrillers, but I found the flawed characters interesting. I don't necessarily feel like I have to connect to characters to enjoy a book although I can understand why some readers feel that way. I certainly didn't connect with either Nick nor Amy, but I could connect to the situation. I imagined, "If this happened to me, I'd probably go insane." The fact that many of the chapters end on cliff hangers kept me reading.

    I think one reason this book is so intriguing is because of Amy. She truly is "amazing." :)
     
  10. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    I'm enjoying reading the book now. Part two is more interesting than part one. I may actually finish it, soon! ;)
     
  11. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Yeah, I agree Part 2 was my favorite of the book. That's when all the chaotic stuff starts happening. I would like to talk about the whole book after we finish out the month. There are a lot of things i want to say but I don't want to spoil anything.
     
  12. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Yeah, I've been refraining so as not to post spoilers. As to whether I saw it coming - not exactly. It was one possible option that I had running through my mind, but it wasn't the top contender, and honestly I had at least three or four scenarios in mind by that point and I didn't know which one would turn out to be right.
     
  13. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Hi,

    I've just finished reading Gone Girl.

    I found the second half of the book more interesting than the first. It's quite a clever book and well written, but I didn't like any of the characters. It's not a book I'd want to read again.

    'Go' was a confusing and tedious name for the poor reader to cope with.

    I didn't like the ending.

    Weren't there flaws in the plot?

    It's difficult to discuss the book without making spoilers. Has everyone else finished reading it yet?

    Thank you for setting this as the book of the month, Phil. It's the main reason I persevered and finished it, and I did buy it several months ago.
     
  14. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    There's no way to discuss this book without spoiling it. Maybe a separate thread for Gone Girl spoilers, so we can talk about it without ruining things for those still reading?
     
  15. Ghost

    Ghost Inkling

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    Maybe we can discuss the book at the end of June? There could be a cutoff post in the thread after which there will be spoilers. I don't like the idea of a separate thread since this thread seems set up for discussion.

    I finally finished the book. I have things to say now. :nerd:
     
  16. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I agree that this is a really hard book to discuss without any spoilers. I think it's best for us to wait until the end of June maybe. Let's say the cut-off is June 28th? Then hit the spoilers!

    I'll even edit the thread to say "SPOILERS."
     
    Ghost likes this.
  17. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    For those that have no finished the book, please turn away now!

    OK, I changed the thread to read SPOILERS now and we're in our final week of discussion. Feel free to say whatever you want. Those who have not finished, you've been warned! :D
     
  18. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    OK, I'll crack this open.

    Last SPOILER warning!

    Amy is probably the craziest character I've seen in a novel since Ramsey Snow. The ending for me was pretty disappointing, but there was that one line that Nick got in at the end that made it a little more satisfying. Nick's urge to be a father outweighs any fakeness he has to put up in order to continue functioning. I think this may be Flynn commenting on how a lot of marriages are full of fakeness. That no one ever is satisfied his or her mate mate in some way.

    Some of the things Amy did seemed almost cartoonish though. I don't mind that too much, but some of her behavior in the end is just like, "OK, Amy is the most diabolical person on Earth."

    Any thoughts?
     
  19. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    I thought that the book was clever in many ways.

    Amy is the Gone Girl. She's married to Nick and has disappeared.

    Amy's the much wanted and only child of a couple who had loads of miscarriages before her birth. Her mother can't have any children after her as Amy's birth destroys her womb. Her parents write a series of successful books called Amazing Amy based on their daughter. They become very rich.
    Later, they lose money and borrow from Amy.

    Nick is an unreliable narrator. We're quite far into the book before he reveals that one of his students is his mistress.

    Then we discover that Amy's diary is a fake. She has written it to frame her husband. She's also an unreliable narrator.

    We get the feeling that this couple have never loved each other. Nick has used Amy's money to buy a bar. His sister Go works there. He's moved Amy away from the city.

    The book is written in the form of alternate chapters from the two narrators. Nick writes about current events and how he's being framed for murder. Amy's is the diary.

    Then, in the second part we find out what's really happened and where Amy is. Amy had pretended to be a 'cool girl' to attract Nick. During the book, Nick discovers how evil she is and how she destroys people who cross her.

    I thought the ending was improbable. Why would Nick go back to her? Why did she want to continue the marriage after this amazing attempt to destroy him? Why would he want her when he knows she's actually committed murder and is crazy? How could he possibly continue their marriage? He wouldn't really want to have a child with her.

    The police are supposed to suspect her of murder but are unable to prove it. I thought there was a flaw here, because while on the run she was recognised by two people who robbed her and who could disprove her alibi that she was kidnapped.

    Thanks to this group I managed to finish reading Gone Girl at the fourth attempt!

    The book is cleverly plotted and well written.

    I've already passed my copy onto someone else to read! It's my Gone Book! :eek:
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2014
  20. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I felt that the ending was pretty probable as well. It felt like it was going into surreal territory in some sense because of Amy's over-the-top villainy and Nick's "Well, fine then" sort of attitude. I really loved this book, but toward the end I kind of wondered why she went with that ending. I felt it was going more for a parable kind of feel rather than a realistic ending. Kind of like "be yourself or else bad shit happens to you."
     
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