Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Gone Girl

Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When his wife goes missing, Nick Dunne quickly finds himself the prime suspect. Did he kill his wife? Was their marriage as perfect as it seemed? Or was there someone sinister going on all along?

One the heels of reading Dark Places and catching a dose of Gillian Flynn fever, I decided to take on her show dog, Gone Girl. People are bastards, bastards coated in douche bags and then rolled in a pile of assholes. That's the life lesson I learned from reading Gone Girl.

Told using a more or less parallel structure with shifting viewpoints between Nick and Amy, both unreliable narrators, Gone Girl is less a mystery than a study of just how underhanded people can be to one another. The disintegration of Nick and Amy's relationship kept the book going in the beginning, before its full scope was revealed.

Gillian Flynn is a master of manipulation. I lost count of how many times I switched my allegiance from one character to another, bouncing around like a ping-pong ball. Once the truth of what really happened unfolded, I was pretty much aghast.

The dying small town of Carthage is one of those rural settings that I love in a crime book. When you've got the Big Muddy rolling right next to your town, it's a great way to dispose of any incriminating evidence.

It's probably going to be akin to blasphemy is some people's eyes but I actually preferred Dark Places to this one for a few reasons. The pace in Gone Girl was a little on the slow side at times. The scheme was a little too far fetched, even though it's would be doable given the right sociopath. The ending also kind of sucks and the book felt like it was about twenty pages too long. The biggest advantage Dark Places has over Gone Girl is that I cared about Libby Day. Nick and Amy could both get run down by a garbage truck and I wouldn't bat an eye.

Gone Girl was a pretty good read, as expected. Gillian Flynn reads like a grittier Megan Abbot or the illegitimate spawn of Jim Thompson on one of his many drunken benders. 4 out of 5 stars.

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Slaughterhouse-FiveSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Billy Pilgrim becomes unstuck in time and experiences the events of his life out of chronological order. War and absurdity ensue.

I've never read Kurt Vonnegut up until now and when Slaughterhouse-Five showed up in my cheapo ebook email a few days ago, I decided it was time. Get it?

Slaughterhouse-Five is often classified as science fiction but it reads more like Kurt Vonnegut trying to make sense of his World War II experiences through a humorous (at times) science fiction story. It also seems to be a Big Important Book, due to novelly things like themes of anti-war and the absurdities that come with it. It also uses a non-linear plot structure to illustrate the timey-wimey nature of Billy's affliction.

There's not really a whole lot to tell. Slaughterhouse-Five is basically a collection of non-chronological events in Billy Pilgrim's life: his experiences in World War II, his life after the war, and his abduction by the Tralfamadorians, aliens who view events in time simultaneously rather than chronologically.

The bleakness and black humor go together surprisingly well, like beer and White Castles. I have to wonder, though, if Slaughterhouse-Five would be as highly regarded as it is if it didn't land on so many banned book lists over the years. Nothing like some controversy to get people to read.

While it wasn't pants-shittingly awesome, I enjoyed it quite a bit and I'll likely pick up another Vonnegut book in the future. Four out of five stars. So it goes.

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