This summer is my summer-of-trying-to-read-the-book-before-I-see-the-movie-based-on-the-book. The first book in that category (longest name of a category ever) was Gone Girl, which I read a few weeks ago while on vacation. That was perfect timing, really, because it’s a complete page turner and it was fine for me to keep reading till the wee morning hours. Seriously, I think I stayed up until 3 the first night.

The novel is a mystery-thriller, and I don’t often read mysteries or thrillers, but because this book was included in at least half a dozen summer reading lists back in May, I thought I’d give it a try. Also, the trailer didn’t hurt, seeing how the movie looks great. Also, Ben Affleck. But getting back to the book. There I was, a non-mystery reader, reading this mystery and gleefully–gleefully!–anticipating every little reveal in the plot. The pacing was so good and the plot so skillfully developed that I wished I could read the various drafts of the book that would show how it all took shape.

Gone Girl is about a wife who goes missing and how the public blames her husband. At least, that’s the top layer of the story. Really it’s the story of a marriage. By interspersing flashbacks with the novel’s current-day mystery, Flynn lets us get to know the characters and their story slowly, over time. The fact that I spent half of the book in denial (“No–he isn’t that stupid! He can’t be such a jerk! No way she’s smart enough to . . . “) is proof of the shifting tensions and the steady conflict in the novel. And the ending was a surprise (Me: What . . . ? No… What?). But no more about that; I must avoid spoilers.

I can’t say that I loved the characters. They were too imperfect for love, which is imperfect enough to be really interesting. And the novel didn’t have me contemplating heavy themes. (But there were heavy themes, believe me.) I was simply engrossed and entertained, which is, for me, more than good enough. I’ll be looking forward to seeing how Flynn adapted her novel for the screen.

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