Monday, March 3, 2014

Wendy Tackles Hype - Again

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0385366752/themisaofsupe-20
Every so often a discussion crops up in Romancelandia about "hype."  How we hate it, how we're sick of it, how we wish sometimes we could turn off the noise and read in our comfy little bubbles.  This is a dream I don't have, mostly because with my day job it's totally unrealistic.  As a librarian working daily with collection management - you cannot turn off the hype machine.  Those books that grab the general public by the throat and suddenly they morph into what I call Books That Won't Die.  When it comes to books of this nature I tend to not read them, until finally curiosity gets the better of me and I check them out on audio.  My actual "reading time" is pretty well booked thanks to the slight romance novel addiction I have, but audio?  My listening tends to be more eclectic.  It's how I "read" The DaVinci Code three years after everybody else (OMG - the info dumping!  Please someone stop the info dumping!) and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Bloated and in need of a blood-thirsty editor).  So naturally I would eventually get around to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, which I finally wrapped up over the weekend. 

Now this isn't going to be a traditional review, mostly because I figure I'm the last person to read it.  Also, I'm going to try to avoid spoilers, but um, yeah.  So what did I think?

It was OK, I guess.  I'm torn over this book.  Mostly because I recognize it as "good," but it also kind of pushed a lot of literati vs. genre hot buttons for me.  Frankly, it strikes me as the sort of book that "literary" types can read and then say, "It's really a deep examination of the institution of marriage and the complexities of such unions between two flawed individuals.  So see, it's totally OK that I'm reading this book because it is far superior to "so-called" genre fiction."  Sniff, sniff, disdain, disdain, sarcasm = Wendy wants to punch someone in the face.

I'd argue that if Flynn had written it as a genre book it would have been better - but what the hell do I know?  Basically this is a story about two vile, narcissistic people who are married to each other.  I don't like them, but I cannot deny that I couldn't stop listening to it even when about halfway through I still tempted to DNF it.  I totally give mad props to the narrators, Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborne, who are beyond excellent.  This is a fabulous production and I'm more than half convinced they're the reason I got past the point of no return and had to finish the book.  If you are curious about this book and like audio?  Yeah, this is the way to go.  A coworker recommended it and she was totally right.

So the story itself?  Well, I saw the twist coming.  I just did.  I also liked how the author made me, at one moment, like a particular character and in the next moment?  I thought they were pure evil.  So the complexities of the characters are extremely well done.  One of the big reasons I enjoy genre fiction is that ability to crawl around inside a character's head.  Flynn does a great job of that in this book and it's pretty addictive.

The movie version is currently in post-production.  I will say this - the casting looks amazing.  They did a really great job, at least with getting the actors with the right look.  The big brouhaha is, of course, that the director has changed the ending.  Um, newsflash - of course he did.  Why?  Because the current ending sucks.  You cannot have that ending in the movie.  Heck, I'm not sure the ending really works for the book (hence my literati comments above).  David Fincher did direct the US movie version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and drastically altered the ending from the book - for the better, I think.  An instance where I felt that the movie was better than the book (Fincher cut out a lot of the book's bloat and made the ending more suspenseful, says me).  So yeah, I'm totally on board to see what he does with Gone Girl

I'm not sure where that leaves me as far as final impressions.  I want to say "average" - but even I can recognize that what Flynn has done with her writing and characterizations is stellar.  I just wanted it to be a true genre suspense novel and not some high-flautin' navel-gazing critique on marriage masquerading as a suspense novel.  So we'll split the difference.

Final Grade = B

Final Note: You know who I would totally recommend this book to?  Single people who are "unhappy" and depressed about their single status.  Seriously, read this book.  You will never be depressed about being single ever again.  Ever.  Again.

24 comments:

azteclady said...

Haven't read it, haven't been tempted to read it, and if the thought could have ever entered my head in an unguarded moment, this review took care of that.

(My recent reading--not re-reading, obviously--has been pretty damn dismal, and I feel no need to risk further disappointment.)

Donna Alward said...

Your final note made me chortle. :)

jessicapmiller.org said...

I also listened to this one and second the audio book version rec. Fantastic. I just warn people that it is such a page turner they may be buying the digital version like I did for when they can't listen but have to keep going. I thought (most of) this was terrific "generic commercial fic" -- it didn't feel particularly literary but I couldn't find another genre in which it seemed to fit. I was let down by the end, though. It knocked the book down from terrific to very good for me.

Marguerite Kaye said...

I loved this book, though like pretty much everyone else, I hated the ending, so I'm really glad they're changing it in the film. The thing I loved most was the fact that characters are so horrible and so fascinating. Plus the page-turning thing, which really worked for me. I hated the hype, and probably wouldn't have picked it up if my sister hadn't recommended it. As with any book like this that won't lie down and die, I am both fascinated and incredibly envious - how come? And why not me? as the Judds would say (I know why, don't answer that!).

Which brings me on to the big kick in the teeth that your review gave to me, the point about genre v literati, and it made me sort of hate the fact that I'd liked this book so much. Thanks for that. Now I really know, not only why not me, but why it probably won't ever be me! Just for the record, I still like it, I don't think it's 'literature' and I totally agree on the commercial fiction label. Sharp Objects, Flynn's first book, was much, much darker, much less obviously commercial, and for me a much better book. But I'm not going to recommend it, because you're bound to come up with a review that makes me change my mind!

S. said...

Well I have this one to read...I have it since last year and I've scheduled it to be read in the summer... I still hope I'll love it!
****

Miss Bates said...

This review is a hoot! And, really, thank you for affirming every recoiling I've ever felt, or enacted towards this novel ... and for listening to/"reading" it, so I don't have to.

Hilcia said...

Wendy, you know I like my contemporary fiction and literature (I have nothing against literati or genre, I love (read) both and IMHO they both have lots to offer a reader). Having said that, I DNF'd this book last year. I just couldn't get past the hateful characters, the foreshadowing didn't make this a page turner for me. And even the great writing wasn't enough to keep me reading. The book just wasn't for me.

Wendy said...

AL: It wasn't quite what I expected - although to be honest I'm not sure WHAT I was expecting. One of those books I can admire, even though I wasn't in love (or like) with it.

Wendy said...

Donna: Seriously, reading this book is cheaper than an eHarmony membership or suffering through blind dates set up by well meaning friends.

Wendy said...

Jessica: I'm torn by the ending. Most of my hated it - while another, tinier part of me, thinks that everybody got exactly what they deserved ;)

JamiSings said...

I'm reading this right now cause someone on The Washington Post comment portions told me I should after I told a story from my high school days. And oh my God is it ever BORING and pretentious! Just like with Forrest Gump it's one of those books that is so blasted bad I wonder who the author slept with to get it published. Cause it sure wasn't on talent and writing skill.

Wendy said...

Oh no Marguerite! There goes Wendy raining on someone's parade again! I admit it, the literature vs. genre vs. commercial fiction thing is this hot button I have. Half the time I think I'm making mountains out of mole hills - probably from too many years of getting that button pushed.

Wendy said...

S: Totally read it. I think it's worth reading. These characters though? Oh boy! They're a piece of work.

Wendy said...

Miss Bates: I know me and I know that if I had tried to read it I would have given up on it. So glad the audio version was so well done. Really excellent!

Wendy said...

Hils: It was a yo-yo. You go from "Hey maybe that person isn't such a bad sort" to "OMG burn him! Burn him with fire!!!!!!!!!!" The audio version is 15 CDs (it was my "car listen) and I was still thinking about DNF'ing it around disc 8. But once I was at the halfway point I really felt compelled to finish it because.....I had to know. My curiosity got the better of me.

Wendy said...

Jami: You know what a big stumbling block for me was? The characters are "hipsters." And OMG, I HATE HIPSTERS! The early chapters were a slog for me just for that reason. So glad I listened to it on audio, because dang - I really think it would have been impossible for me to finish it in print form.....

JamiSings said...

I didn't even notice the hipster part. Just how judgmental they are of anyone who doesn't act like them. Calling their "friends" husbands dancing monkeys and all that. Amy's a freaking doormat with her refusal to confront Nick. Nick's a whiny little jerkwad.

I'm only continuing with it now to see why my real life story inspired this person to tell me to read this book. See, the story was about some friends I had in high school. Friend #1 was always throwing parties for things like Summer Solstice and such but never invited me. I finally asked her why I was always left out and she informed me that Friend #2 had told her to never invite me to any parties because "Jami won't fit in." (It was a mix of people with many different religious beliefs including Pagans, Christians, atheists, etc. You know - JUST LIKE EVERYWHERE ELSE I GO!) Friend #1 finally invited me to one and found I fit in just fine.

Friend #2 was always rather jealous of me though, I admit. Her parents fought all the time and her mom refused to cook or let anyone else cook. They ate fast food for every single meal. So Friend #2 would actually go days without eating cause of stomach problems, was a cutter as well. She often disguised her voice and called my parents telling them I was talking bad about them at school and otherwise trying to cause problems. Then would come over to my house so she could get home cooked food and be with adults who are married and not constantly screaming at each other.

How this relates to Gone Girl I have no idea. So far I see nothing about high school problems or backstabbing friends in it. Just two very childish adults who should never been together.

Wendy said...

Jami: Oh, you need to keep reading. It will start to become clear about the halfway point (I think? I listened to the audio so not sure how that corresponds with pagination in the book!). That bit about Friend #2 calling/disguising her voice/creating problems for others is probably what led to the Gone Girl recommendation.

Uh, I think. That's my guess anyway :)

JamiSings said...

Yeah, I got to that point.

I still don't think it's a very good or well written book. But I've been off for two weeks cause I had a hysterectomy. (Long story, but basically had to do it. Good news is the biopsy showed no cancer! Yay!) So it's been a lot of reading, playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf (which I've been doing way more of than reading since Gone Girl is so boring), and occasional outings cause I'm going insane.

I'm cleared to go back to work next week though. Oh shoot! I forgot to call and see if they know. I probably should leave a message.

nath said...

LOL, guess I've been living under a rock because I haven't heard of this book! Luckily, I'm neither sad nor depressed about my single status so I can skip this one :)

JamiSings said...

Wendy, Amy's not a hipster. She's a sociopath who's one step away from becoming a serial killer. In the hands of a better writer this could actually be an episode of Criminal Minds.

Too bad the writer isn't really all that good.

Wendy said...

Jami: Not her so much as Nick and Go. I mean, really? They named their bar "The Bar." They're both worth disliking for that reason alone.

Wendy said...

Nath: Seriously, it was the book that wouldn't die. Reviews were really positive out of the gate, but it really gained traction via word of mouth. I finally had to admit defeat and just start buying a ton of copies of it for work.

JamiSings said...

True. I'll give you that. Though I think they only did it cause they couldn't think of anything better.

Have to admit, I was hoping it would turn out Nick's father killed her, thinking she was someone else, and Nick cleaned up the scene but blocked it out. Cause maybe his father had done this before....

That's how I would've written it. Father with Alzheimer's and a history of being a woman hater killed some woman years ago in front of his son, forcing the son to clean up and the son blocks the memory. Only for history to repeat itself with the son's cold, sociopathic wife.