Near the end of an interview with writer Kathleen George, Jeff Rutherford (whose Reading and Writing Podcast is an excellent source of inspiration about many writers and their writing process) asks what she’s reading. Kathleen George lists a number of books, including “Gone,” by Mo Hayder, which is very good, and then mentions she just bought “Gone Girl.” Kathleen, who clearly worked hard at her career and who is producing crime novels at a steady clip, said she felt compelled to read it because, well, it’s on everyone’s must-read list.
“Gone Girl” is everywhere. When Gillian Flynn popped up on a super-serious Sunday morning talk show (a show mostly devoted to politics) and was heavily praised from a well-known veteran newsman, well, you know that a novel has gone into the special category of “ubiquitous.” There are more than 4500 review on Amazon to date and the four-star and five-star ratings far outweigh all others.
I’m only posting a few sentences as a cautionary note to any potential reader—mostly because “Gone Girl” requires a major investment in time.
There are two main issues I have with “Gone Girl” and they both deal with the plot’s plausibility. Sure, writers stretch storylines all the time. Suspending disbelief is part of the fun of reading, correct? So this just deals with my preference level, when I’m shaking head in wonder. I suspended for a bit, then found myself free-falling and, ultimately, crashing hard.
You can find plenty of spoiler-riddled plot descriptions elsewhere but the basic premise of “Gone Girl” is that a wife stages her own disappearance to look like a possible murder, to put her husband in deep jeopardy. He’s not the prince you might think he is at the outset.
The biggest leap you have to make toward the end of “Gone Girl” is that after all this work and trouble and months of constructing an intricate scenario and with everything working as she planned, that she would (spoiler alert!) return. What the…? The scene that inspires her to return? A head-shaker.
The second biggest leap you have to make is that in the middle of the book she is hiding out / hanging out at a motel and has several encounters with others at the facility—extended encounters—and doesn’t get recognized, even though her “disappearance” and potential murder have reached the level of national news. Yes, she’s added a few pounds and let herself go, but, really? “Hard to swallow” doesn’t begin to cover it.
“Gone Girl” didn’t just jump the shark, for me, it jumped the whole ocean. I was completely suckered into the plot at the beginning. At the outset of reading “Gone Girl,” I told a few friends that it was good—so far. I sailed right past my 100-page rule (when I would normally set something down if it doesn’t appeal to me). As I said, I was pulled in.
And then the plot began blowing up. In the end, the implausibility factor hit new levels of gawking disbelief. Read only if, well, you absolutely “must.”