Five Reasons Why Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” is Sour – A Book Review

Jean-Paul Sartre was correct. “Hell is other people.”

Gone Girl, a thriller, one of my favourite genres, by Gillian Flynn, used the alternating point of views between Lance-Nick and Amazing Amy. Two married people, at first seemingly strong, seem to end up having their marriage come undone.

Psychopath

“A sociopath must cut her teeth somewhere…” writes Flynn. Meh.

I get the pathology of psychopaths. In an effort to write how a true psychopath feels, which is nothing, Flynn, seems to make me feel nothing as well. The characters become flat around Part 2: Boy Meets Girl. Flynn also demonstrates disdain in her writings about all of her characters from that point forward. The challenge in enjoying a novel, where I feel nothing for the characters, is insurmountable. I see no redeeming quality. In any of them.

Usually when I’m reading, watching a movie, or TV series, observing art, or watching theatre or opera, I try to take my writers hat off and just enjoy how the piece unfolds before me. But this time, I can’t. And I’ll explain.

I’m reading a book where I feel a disconnect, I’m bored, I’m no longer emotionally invested in any of the characters from Part 2, right through to the end.

On the upside of things, female psychopaths everywhere are being validated. I can see that Flynn busts through the myth that all women, like children, are innocent. She shows that female psychopaths, like male psychopaths exist.

All Flynn had to do was make Amazing Amy pregnant and keep her preggers the first time that she said that she was. Something that would have tugged at my emotional strings. Oh, she’s not pregnant? Meh.

I don’t care about privileged, psychopathic problems that Amazing Amy created. All of the privileged white problems that predominate the book and exist in Amazing Amy and Lance-Nick’s worlds. I can’t even care about any of the characters as they all become weak and Flynn writes about them all in a spiteful light making it hard for me to connect with any of them.

Misandry

I realize I’m reading some misogyny which then turns to being fully a book on misandry. I think that this book has a larger agenda. Let’s show just how much we can get away with hating men.

We talk a great deal about rape culture and misogyny on social media. This book is the flip side. It’s misandry. Misandry is the discrimination of men. As a feminist, I don’t support this.

This misandrist book deserves one star because I’m unsure of why this book was written and how men are portrayed and why. Because I am left with questions. Is Flynn a misandrist? Does she denigrate men? Does she sexually objectify men? She does in the book.

This is an ego booster being sent right out there to affirm misandrists. And everyone is reading this novel and raving about it. This says a great deal about our society. Morally and ethically we seem to be breaking down when we celebrate this novel for how amazing it is purported to be.

As a feminist, I cannot appreciate hatred for men, just as I cannot condone hatred for women. I don’t need Amazing Amy to be so nice either. I just need to connect to a character, any character in the book. Amy can be as duplicitous as she is written and as much of a psychopath as Flynn wants. But give me someone to hang onto in your book, Flynn.

Overwriting

My gut says: man hating, cheesy, easy-way-to-make-a-buck book. And oops, you dropped your character sketches into your story. So much over-explaining. Biggest piece of hand holding narrative I’ve ever read.

And the overwriting that perhaps could have been edited out. Words that speak to the reader in brackets telling us what has already been shown. For example, “(I sometimes use humor as self-defense.)” This insults my intelligence. There are many more examples of thoughts in brackets and many instances where characters lift their eyebrow in a certain way so that we would know exactly what they were doing, even though I already knew what they were thinking. The repeating of words to describe someone. Perhaps she read Fifty Shades of Grey and adopted and adapted poor writing techniques.

Jen Lancaster, best known for Bitter is the New Black, uses footnotes to add to the humour in her novels and it works splendidly. Flynn uses brackets for whatever she wants – there is no consistent method to her overuse of brackets.

The last time I was in Chapters, I saw Gone Girl on the same display with Fifty Shades of Grey – both with their movie covers.

The intellect of our society is shot.

Women

And FWIW, men cheat and so do women. I had a chat with a co-worker. She was getting a divorce. She was talking about how most of her female friends who were getting divorced, were the ones having affairs on their husbands. I wasn’t shocked. I don’t live under a rock. And it’s been a problem since forever. It’s not just a straight man thing.

I’m long tired of women portrayed as innocent creatures.

Life is art, art is life. Manet was a misogynist. You can see it in his painting Luncheon On The Grass. Flynn is a misandrist in her novel. And I can sleep at night, knowing that I gave it one star for spreading the hatred of men.

That’s not where I want to continue the feminist discussion and how I hope we rid the world of misogynist thinking. I’m unhappy to stand by and watch misandry and revel in it. By topping misogyny with misandry is not the way that we are going to become equal.

My reaction is to move in a different direction. I don’t fight aggression with aggression. I don’t fight misogyny with misandry. That’s why I despise this book.

It tears down feminism by showing Amazing Amy lying in such a disgusting manner, just as I have known women in real life to lie. This character is not only strongly flawed, she is weak, she is not strong. She is not powerful, she uses her sexuality in a way that is setting women back decades. I want to see her leave Lance-Nick behind, get herself a job, a new family, a new husband and get on with her life. Not use sex and violence to get back at her husband. Bringing us back into the dark ages when so many women are still fighting the myth that a lot of women are lying about being abused. I’ve had psychopathic women push me down before and it does not mean that I will enjoy reading about one. I already know that they exist.

So, about the timing of this novel. It couldn’t be worse for women and sexual assault cases. We see a “he said, she said” tale that makes me clearly believe the man over the woman in just about everything. That’s not how I view the world. It is not that black and white and it is written as such. I don’t care what the actors in Hollywood have to say about the layered and deep characters that they portray. There is no depth. And that’s part of the problem. Im not just disappointed – I’m angry. The word disappointed is a wimpy way to say I’m angry.

Grey

Amazing Amy seems as dumb as the young woman in Fifty Shades of Grey, and the writing, which I found to be rather manic at times, was almost as poorly written as the first Fifty Shades. I laughed all the way through that book. The writing was poor.

I’m not saying ban the book and burn it. Perhaps, sit it up on the shelf with Fifty Shades, because that’s where it seems to belong. There’s a market for it, and I’m not in the market for these books. If I want something thrilling, or sexually gratifying, I can make other choices. Reading this was a waste of my time, but I had to finish it to be able to justify my argument, that yes, chuck it out the window, put it on the shelf next to Fifty Shades, but not next to literature. Flynn’s a writer, she can produce her art, but take it at face value: smut. It’s not important, intellectual and I didn’t learn anything.

And the tone of the book on all characters shifts at one point. All of the men and women are portrayed as uglier and weaker than they first were. Why so bitter Flynn? Why hating on the human race? You can’t think how to inspire us, so let’s just denigrate all and wipe everyone out starting at Part 2, but paint it with the whole sexual brush strokes for the masses to understand you. I think that this is a reflective piece of the writer.

I’ve been fighting all my life to get away from sexual objectivism, which means that I want to keep sex in my life and all of the adult pleasures that go along with it. But I am no one’s object. I want to get away from the portrayal that we are weak women who can only use sex as our superpower. I’m done with the chauvinist pigs, the down with the feminists, the men who get away with the sexual assaults, the victims who are not believed. I’ve been taught to stand on my own feet and use my mind. If I want to have great sex at the same time, then I can too, but at least make my way to where I want to get on my own terms and with using my own smarts. This debases women more than in a manipulative way. Women writing sex into their novels are beginning to bore me. I’m not a bored housewife who needs to learn to get it on with her husband nor do I need to learn how to manipulate my way, anywhere.

This art, this prose, is not transferable to entertainment for many because of the current struggles in the media that deny alleged abusers and alleged victims their day in court and they are being judged by all through media streams, both traditional and social. This book hooks onto this and gets rushed along with the same current.

I think this is the book that finally pushed me over the edge – I’m tired of stupid characters that are glorified by everyone.

I need to go cleanse my palate – read some poetry or some literary work. Or, maybe a horror novel, well written.

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4 thoughts on “Five Reasons Why Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” is Sour – A Book Review

  1. Ok, so my gut was warning me that Gone Girl is a PASS and this review just drove that home. It sounds as dreadful as it looks. I am SO tired of stupid shallow characters being glorified by everyone as well. Psychopaths are not nearly as intriguing as smut writers want us to believe, in real life they are tedious bores. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this.

    Liked by 1 person

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