Attention: Gone Girl Fans

Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl has landed with a big splash onto summer reading lists.  Critics galore applauded her first two books, Sharp Objects and Dark Places, so Gone Girl’s success is no surprise.

Amy and Nick Dunne’s fifth anniversary promises to be a romantic night filled with perfectly wrapped presents and renewed vows of devotion.  Without warning, Amy disappears and all clues point to a guilty, cheating Nick.  A familiar plot, but Flynn stretches it wide.  She takes the concept of the unreliable narrator — a character who tells the tale, is part of the tale, but who completely fools himself as the reader comes to understand exactly what’s going on —  and ramps it up.  Both husband and wife tell their stories alternately: two unreliable narrators.

The book has an element of noir, girl noir actually.   You know film noir:  black and white, thirties or forties, disheveled PI alone in shabby office, chain smoking and nipping at the office bottle, single light bulb hanging overhead.  In strolls incredible babe who needs his help, and it’s all over for him.

Writers such as Gillian Flynn are turning this convention 180 degrees out. Like the men, these women are often being duped, and like the men, they have been around.   The difference is that they take charge.  They might have been kicked around, but these chicks are kicking back. They act like men in their unabashed pursuit of sex, yet reveal a certain vulnerability.  Aren’t these the qualities that drew so many to Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?

Gone Girl combines unreliable narrators and girls “kicking butt and taking names.”  What could be better?  For more books like Gone Girl, click here.

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