Just Read: Gone Girl

As I type this, I am nursing a dull headache; the kind that stems from the base of your neck, pervading through your skull until you can feel it settle right behind your eyes. I wish I could just close my eyes and make up on the precious sleep I have lost over the last day but well, my mind is whirring a little too much to rest on one place and let me sleep. I am reminded of my days in university when I would glide through the day, in a zombie-like haze (I know I use this phrase a lot… maybe says something about my relationship with sleep, eh?) carrying that dull headache with me like something physical that needs to be lugged along wherever I go. You would think I am miserable, looking at me, barely awake. But fact is, it is because of a book that I feel the way I do and I have absolutely no regrets. And although I get turned off by anything “trending”, something about the Gone Girl movie trailer made me want to read the book.

It is not very rare for me to get hooked to a book, the self professed book-guzzler that I am. My mother once asked me in exasperation, after I had handed her a book having finished read it, gleefully demanding the next book I could read, “Do you even read them? Or do you just gulp down the words?” So to say I finished a book in 24 hours would be not a good compliment enough for a book. It just tells you about how fast I can read, which is not a major talent in a world of fast readers, and how dedicated I am to reading, which again is something all book lovers are. But it is rare for me to feel that breathless anticipation, the constant state of urgency, the compulsion to do everything in fast motion, even the actual reading of the book, just so I could finish reading the book. Most of all, it is extremely rare for a book to make me want to write about it. I don’t do book reviews, specially of popular books, but no, it’s not enough for me to just say that I liked Gone Girl; it’s more complex than that. Neither will a passing mention do. No, I need to tell you how I feel about it, so please do listen, for I will try to make it as spoiler free as possible.

Gone Girl book cover

The book starts quite interestingly, but what wowed the writer in me is how Gillian Flynn has managed parallel timelines and two different perspectives (one, through Amy’s diary entries, which is a flashback, and the other through Nick’s first person narrative starting the day she went missing) all at once. The first part of the book had me hooked because although the story itself is captivating, it is the language that I found very refreshing. In fact, for the first time I found the stuff inside the brackets (the usually redundant stuff, just like this) to be the most insightful because it helped me know the characters better. But it’s the later sections of the book that takes it from interesting to exceptionally beguiling. I got sucked in, and stayed trapped, just as entwined in the movement of the story as the characters themselves. I found myself feeling angry, or ruefully smiling, or self-righteously fist bumping; I was the perfect involved reader Gillian Flynn must have envisioned in her mind when she sat down to write the book.

Now, it is fairly easy for me to pick out the “likeable” characters in a book; the ones I am supposed to root for. Most of the times, the authors delicately, and sometimes not so delicately, nudge you in the right direction. But Gone Girl has sucker-punched me alright (thanks a lot, Gillian Flynn) I mean, you know a book is either extremely well written or you have been played for a fool when at the end of the book you don’t really know how you feel about the characters. I think the only person I liked in the entire book was Margo (or Go, Nick’s twin) but to be honest in regards to everyone else, I feel a little manipulated. Like watching an illusionist at work, knowing that what I am seeing is what he wants me to see, even though I want to see through him, to find out his tricks. Then again, it is what the plot itself demands, so I will  give credit to Gillian Flynn instead of sulking about my total lack of empathy towards the characters. What makes Gone Girl different is how the big climax comes way before you expect it to, but it has the ability to keep you interested despite the big showdown being over. Admittedly, I found the language a little inconsistent; the refreshingly light style was somehow lost towards the second half, but again, maybe it is the way the plot unfurls.

So if you ask me, whether or not I really liked the book, I would definitely say, yes. But would I read it again? Maybe not. I am all about sunshine and yellow and the happily ever afters and simplicity. I like the murky grays and complexities and layers and layers of almost multidimensional interpretations, and tragic endings once in a while as well, but what I can’t do without is closure. I need a satisfying resolution, and where it fits, absolution. At the end of a book, I want to feel like there was a “point” (for the lack of a better word) to all of it. Gone Girl has left me feeling strangely unsatisfied with its ending, and although it is indeed a brilliantly written book, it is a little too “over the top”, too edgy, for me to comfortably wrap myself around it a snuggle on a couch with it on a cold winter day. It fills me with blue ice cold detachment (which is ironic, given how involved I am with the plot) and it is not a good feeling to have lingering in your mind as you go to sleep.

There you have it. As always I am all bells and whistles, not saying enough about the book but talking more about the way it made me feel. But in all fairness, I am *just done* reading it, and my head is filled with it, so I don’t have the “least distance of distinct vision” yet. Or maybe I am just not a good critic. Meh.

Leaving you with this hauntingly beautiful piece of music that perfectly fits the book, in my opinion. It is Uruka today, and in faraway Singapore all I can do is prepare an elaborate dinner, so I have a long list of things I need to tend to. Until the next time, then.

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