I hate when a book comes highly recommended and I just can’t get into it. I recently started reading Gone Girl, a book that got great reviews from critics, family, and friends, but I just couldn’t get into it. I talked to some friends about it, who once again gave it great reviews, but after giving it a second try I decided to call it a day for the time being. I think a big part of the problem is that it just isn’t what I feel like reading right now. I lean towards two extremes when I read: nonfiction or literary fiction that I need to think about a lot, or escapist novels that draw me in so completely that my bus sometimes goes right past me when I’m reading at the bus stop (this happens more often than I’d like to admit!). This book fell somewhere in the middle of those extremes, with characters that I didn’t like (which is the point, I think) and who I couldn’t relate to at all, and I decided that this book just isn’t for me right now.
The many, many people who recommended this book told me that it was a psychological mystery, the type of book that you stay up too late reading because you can’t wait to find out whodunit- exactly the type of book I love! I’ll give this book another shot in the future when I might be more up for plowing through its beginning. In the meantime, I may give some of the books on the Gone Girl Read-Alikes booklist a shot. For those who, like me, just weren’t able to get into this book, here are a few I would recommend instead:
He’s Gone: I just finished this book, and it’s actually the novel that brought me to finally read Gone Girl. It’s the story of a woman who wakes up to discover that her husband is missing without a trace. She has troubling gaps in her memory from the night before, but remembers fighting with her husband at a party they attended, and the novel is her first person account of what may have happened to her husband. I don’t often enjoy books that are told in the first person, but I found this one to be compelling. The questionable reliability of the narrator only added to the suspense.
The Killer Inside Me: Want disturbing crime fiction? This goes down as one of the most disturbing books I’ve ever read. Less of a whodunit and more of a who-will-find-out-I-did-it, this is another story told in the first person, but in this case the narrator is the killer. There isn’t much more to say about this book except that it is truly chilling, and for some time after reading it you may start to suspect that everyone around you is a potential sociopath.
The Cry of the Owl: I think this probably holds the number 2 spot for me in terms of chilling psychological thrillers. People either love this novel or think it’s one of Highsmith’s worst; I obviously fall into the former camp. I think what makes this book so creepy is how mundane and ordinary everything is, and the plot sneaks up on you in ways you don’t expect. If this book isn’t available for you right away, you could read any Highsmith novel to get your dose of sinister for the day.