Gone Girl

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn

I have often thought about committing the perfect crime. I have read enough crime novels and books about serial killers to think that maybe, possibly, I could pull it off, so this book was basically written for me. It combines the excitement of murder mysteries with the psychology behind it and I was totally into it!

My favorite thing about this book is how uncomfortable it seems to make some people. It makes them so uncomfortable they call it trash or sick or hateful, like they can’t fathom that these two main characters, while fictional, are a lot more real than they would like to admit. This book is supposed to make people uncomfortable as they realize that at some point they, too, ever felt that tiny urge to slam their loved one’s head against the wall (be it their partner, their siblings, their parents…) for whatever reason. It’s supposed to be ugly and unsettling, leaving that bad aftertaste of taking a hit too close to home. Everyone gets the urges, but most (!) people aren’t so unbalanced that they can’t control and shake them off.

I started this book hating both characters-- Nick was such an idiot from the beginning. It’s one thing to be so checked out of your marriage that you can’t even muster an ounce of worry for your missing wife, but can you at least have the decency to fake it? Even if he wasn’t guilty, the fact was that people were pointing their fingers at him and instead of doing damage control, he just incriminated himself further and further every time he opened his mouth or stepped out of his house. Idiot!

I hated Amy for reasons that stopped applying after the first act of the book. Victims of abuse are a touchy subject for me and reading about them annoys me because I’m the kind of person who wonders, “well, why aren’t they speaking up? Why won’t they go to the police/tell their family/run away???” even though, logically, I know it’s not that easy and victim blaming is gross. It makes me feel powerless, uncomfortable, and hating the character seems to be the way I deal with it. Amy came off as a pushover and she seemed to become the person she seemed to hate at first, which made me hate her.


I knew the “twist” was coming, but it was still so delightful to read about how carefully Amy built this plan. A whole year! She studied for it. That’s some insane dedication and I commend her for it. The second act was my favorite part of the whole book because you get to see how brilliant and calculating Amy is, while also realizing that all that intelligence is not enough to help her survive out there in the real world. She didn’t even last a week on her own before she ran into some trouble and had to rethink her whole plan. Walking around carelessly carrying a ridiculous amount of money in cash? Come on, Amy!

It’s also in the second part where Nick becomes likeable, or at least where I started feeling more sympathetic towards him, because he was still an asshole husband, but he wasn’t the abusive asshole husband that Amy wrote him to be. And he finally wakes up! Realizes that he and Amy can play the same game and does a beautiful job at catching her attention, making “go back home” part of her new plan and saving his ass in the process.

This second act was so beautifully executed. There was reason for every decision made, you can see how far back and deep Amy’s psychopathy runs, and it had me going back and forth on who to root for as I finished each chapter.

Third act, though, everything went downhill.

Don’t get me wrong, it was still good storytelling! It got better by just being 10x more terrible, if that makes any sense. Amy’s evil nature just completely takes over and it’s chilling to realize how truly fucked up she is, willing to do just about anything to have her happily ever after. I even felt bad for Nick as he struggled to find a way to get rid of her, while also feeling awed by Amy, who seemed to think of everything and was always one step ahead.

My grievances with the ending have nothing to do with the writing or the characters, but my own personal sense of justice. She doesn’t end up dead or in prison, he’s trapped in a marriage with a psychopathic murderer and there’s a baby on the way? WHERE IS THE JUSTICE! Why, oh why, is the world so cruel?

Again, logically, I understand why they stay together even if I don’t agree with it. It’s not just because there’s a baby on the way, or because Nick is worried about how this baby will turn out if he leaves. It all boils down to them both being so fucked up, feeding off of each other’s twisted and disturbed faults, that they are willing to stay together to achieve their goals. Amy wanted her happily ever after, she wanted to be the Amazing Amy her parents always faulted her for not being; she wanted the marriage, the doting husband and the perfect baby and damn it, she’s getting it all, even if she has to threaten and blackmail people to make it happen! And Nick, poor deluded Nick, who thinks he needs a kid to prove to himself and the world that he’s not his father, that he can do right by a child, love and nurture it like his dad never did to him and Go.

Is he really doing right by this kid when he’s allowing it to be born into a fucked up relationship to a crazy as hell mother, though?

So yes, the ending was good, but I didn’t like it. It made me uncomfortable to think about the future of these characters and sad that it looked so terrible and bleak. The book served its purpose of leaving a terrible aftertaste and I loved it, but I also hated it and I demand justice!


Stardust: The Gift Edition - Neil Gaiman

Stardust is the perfect example of why I shouldn't read a book if I've already seen the movie. The problem is that the movie was such a good adaptation of the book (I won't say perfect because it's been a while since I've watched it and there were some things that they changed/added, but I digress), that reading the story just became tedious to me. I already knew what was going on and the 'twist' that makes you go, "oh no!" right about the end, and that took away from the enjoyment I bet people who read this book for the first time get to experience.


However! That doesn't make this book any less magical. The world building is fantastic (literally!) and the author drops you in headfirst without any kind of explanation whatsoever because it's not about the cat-eared fays, the human-shaped stars, the witches or the lightning collectors. And it isn't just a love story, either; I believe it's a story about growing up and going on adventures and finding yourself and knowing that there's more to the world and life than what surrounds us, and Neil Gaiman does a good job at conveying that.


It's an enjoyable, feel-good read regardless of whether you've already seen the movie or not (though if you haven't, you should because it's hilarious and delightful and also Robert De Niro is in it being awesome) and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who enjoys fairy tales and happily ever afters.


The Girl With All The Gifts

The Girl with All the Gifts - M.R. Carey


WARNING! This review contains spoilers!


(TL;DR for the people who want to avoid spoilers and this rambling mess: This book is really good. Go read the summary and if it sounds at all intriguing to you, read it. You will not regret it. I'll accept your gratitude in the form of chocolate.)


I have realized over the course of these past few months trying to get back into the habit of reading that when I go into a book with little to no idea of what it is about, I end up enjoying it 10x more ("Duh!" says everyone with common sense) and this book is a perfect example of that. I picked it up on a whim at the library because nothing I had actually gone to look for was available and I had seen this one mentioned around a few times so I figured, why not? I read the first two chapters before deciding to check it out and I was immediately HOOKED, which was one of the many reasons why I liked it so much.


This book is interesting from the get go. It's narrated in third person and the POV shifts every once in a while, but the first couple of chapters are from the point of view of the main character, a 10 year-old girl called Melanie. Melanie lives in a cell and every day, she gets strapped into a wheelchair and rolled into a classroom until lessons are over and back into her cell she goes. None of that is a spoiler because that is literally all the summary tells you and it's enough to pique your interest because you can't help but wonder why. Why does she live like that? Why is she so CHILL about it? Of course, you start making pretty good guesses from the start because it's so obvious, but you're still left with so many questions that even when they reveal the main reason (spoilers! It's zombies! /end of spoilers!) you're already invested in these characters and want to find out EVERYTHING.


Another thing that I really enjoyed was that a quarter into the book, it all goes to shit. There is no dragging on of the plot until you're bored to tears, only to make interesting things happen when the book's about to end. It's just, hi, these are our main characters, this is what they're here for, BOOM WHAT IS HAPPENING EVERYBODY RUN. I compare it to the way series are written these days: "Let's drag out these stories for as long as possible and sell them as a trilogy because reasons!" This book could have probably done that— I could tell you exactly where M.R. Carey could have cut this book to sell it in parts and call it a trilogy or a series or whatever and I'm SO glad he didn't. He tells a story in 400 pages and wraps up loose ends pretty nicely for the most part and you close the book at the end feeling satisfied and maybe a little bit sad that it's all over but that happens every time you finish a book anyway.


And yes, okay (maybe spoiler ahead?) there's that part in the book halfway through where all they do is walk and walk and sleep and bicker that might remind you of Deathly Hallows and you might wonder, when are they getting to their destination? When will people start dying? (That might have just been me, though. I always root for some death when characters are on a journey. Sorry, Ron!) And some people might find that boring, but personally, I wasn't bothered by it because the slow pace of the plot gave way to a lot of character development. I liked finding out the driving forces behind Parks, Justineau, Gallagher and Caldwell. At the beginning, I was annoyed by these characters. Parks was just a hard-ass and Justineau was so stupid, how was she even a teacher! Gallagher was that character tagging along that you knew would die a pretty gruesome death eventually to prove a point and Caldwell was the token bitch because there always has to be one, right? I even felt like Justineau and Caldwell were like two sides of one person because I couldn't fathom two people having such extreme, opposite personalities. It all seemed very black and white to be taken seriously. As the book progressed, it became more obvious that they weren't being dense for no reason, they just happened to have different goals and purposes which happened to clash with one another.


(The flare, though? That was just plain DUMB. Shame on you, Justineau!)


Of all that character development though, I think Parks' was my favorite. He goes from being this tough soldier guy hardened by an apocalyptic event who just wants to focus on doing his job, BUT THEN he gets stranded with a bunch of stupid civilians who are just making his life harder. Instead of becoming a tyrant leader, though, and imposing his rules on the least experienced, he's willing (albeit begrudgingly!) to listen to their ideas and take their opinions into account before making decisions. It was refreshing that the main dude in charge wasn't a sexist asshole who forced everyone to follow his lead no questions asked because he KNOWS BETTER (you know the type). Even his relationship with Melanie progressed in a way that showed he wasn't the bad guy you expected from his first appearance, but just a human deeply affected by the Breakdown and afraid of the unknown.


And now, let's talk about Melanie. Oh, Melanie. Regardless of what she might be, Melanie still is just a 10-year old girl forced to grow up too fast. Sure, she's super smart and maybe shouldn't be called a kid at all, but her emotional maturity is still very childlike and it was painful watching her realize what she was and come to terms with it and keep it in control while also getting to see the world for the first time and not passing out from information overload. I've seen people call her a Mary Sue (which I can kinda see, because isn't she always so convenient to have around?), but I still believe her character was well written and developed and you can always pass those extraordinary features as a consequence of her condition if nothing else. Second gen hungries are part superheroes? Sure, I'll buy that.


This book isn't without flaws (obviously, because nothing's perfect and I am super picky), both plot- and writing-wise. I mean, am I really supposed to believe that first-gen hungries are having babies when 200 pages back you said they don't even notice or bother to make contact with each other? Or were these second-gen hungries spawning some other way not entirely explained in the book? Did I miss something??? I read Caldwell's explanation a couple of times and I'm still confused! Also, does anyone care to explain the logistics of Miss Justineau's survival? And finally, I really enjoyed the big concepts and ideas used in this book, but all those big words felt a little like overkill sometimes.


Overall though, I really loved this book. I loved that I went in with no expectations and it still managed to surpass them. It wasn't your typical zombie story. It was fun and intriguing and kind of creepy, the kind of book you wanna read really fast to see how everything unfolds, but that you also don't want to finish because you're so immersed in the story, you don't want to let it go. Definitely in the top 5 of books I've read this year! 5/5 stars.

Nineteen Eighty-Four

Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell

How does one man assert his power over another, Winston?’


Winston thought. ‘By making him suffer,’ he said.


‘Exactly. By making him suffer. Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.’


I went into this book thinking it would be action packed and exciting! It was not. It was slow and at times kinda boring and I really couldn't care less about the main characters, but man, the world-building and the social commentary alone were good enough (GREAT, EVEN) to pick up the slack and make this worth getting through.


I understand why people say 1984 is very relevant to society these days because the ideas of Big Brother and its government could probably be applied to any form of modern government, to the point where it's scary to think how obvious this has been for years and yet people are still being brainwashed and intimidated into falling for it.


Read 1984. It's an excellent book that will definitely make you think and probably snooze a couple of times because these main characters are SO DULL. But really, it's a great book. Read it!