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Could I Handle Gone Girl?

It’s been a long time since I have been more on-the-fence about a book than I am about Gone Girl.  I want to read it and I don’t want to read it at the same time.  So hopefully people who have (or are not going to for some reason) read it can nudge me definitively to one side or the other.  If I’m going to start it, I want to grab it tomorrow.

Reasons why I don’t want to read it:

A few nights ago, Josh asked me to watch Broadchurch with him.  I knew nothing about it.  Early in the episode when the boy was missing, I knew this was something I didn’t want to see and passively mentioned that to Josh several times.  I sat through the end of the first episode even though it made me feel sick (especially when the mother ran across the sand).  Then I had terrible nightmares that night.  I often have nightmares, but these nightmares were worse than usual — more violent, more upsetting.  They stuck with me the whole next day.

I don’t know if that was because the person harmed was a child, or if I’d feel the same way if it were a husband.  I have never been one to watch CSI or any of the police shows.  Thinking about someone being murdered isn’t entertainment for me.

Gone Girl is about a woman who goes missing, so I’m scared that it will end up giving me nightmares and sticking with me in the worst way, coating my day.

Reasons why I want to read it:

Despite sounding as if I’m completely anti-suspense novels, I usually do enjoy mysteries or suspense novels the few times when I’ve read one.  I like trying to figure out what happened, and I’ve heard that the ending of this book provides an authentically surprising twist.

It also doesn’t sound realistic to our particular life.  I could imagine how the characters on Broadchurch felt — just a small town family who has lost their child — and the show focuses on their grief.  Whereas my understanding of Gone Girl is that this isn’t a murder case per se (it’s a missing persons case).  The characters sound completely alien from our lives, like reading about celebrities.  It sounds like a safer choice when talking about a suspense book.  I couldn’t, for instance, read The Lovely Bones.  But Nick and Amy don’t sound (from the description) like people we are or people we would know.  That gives me a lot of distance that allows me to enjoy the story.

It’s been on the bestseller list for so long that I feel a little strange avoiding it.  Similarly, I’d like to read JK Rowling’s Cuckoo’s Calling since I really loved the Casual Vacancy.  Though that’s another one that I worry whether I could handle though it sounds so far removed from my real world that perhaps I could read it without getting scared.

So, for those who have read Gone Girl (or for those who aren’t reading it and can explain why), could I handle this book?  Or hey, weigh in on Cuckoo’s Calling too if you can.

Crowdsourcing my reading list…

34 comments

1 Laurel (Dawn Storey) { 08.17.13 at 3:13 pm }

I’ve read Gone Girl, and no spoilers, but based on what you’ve written here – YES, I definitely think you could handle it.

2 Maresi { 08.17.13 at 3:25 pm }

The main leads in Gone Girl are such chariactures that you could totally handle it.

3 Lollipop Goldstein { 08.17.13 at 3:28 pm }

Okay, the fact that they’re over-the-top is good to know; it sounds like I CAN view them from that distance rather than feeling what they’re feeling deeply. On that note, either of you read Cuckoo’s Calling?

4 It Is What It Is { 08.17.13 at 3:31 pm }

YES, definitely read it. I would be very surprised if the content gave you nightmares.

It is a good book, a page turner, but not horrifying (or I am jaded).

5 missohkay { 08.17.13 at 4:14 pm }

I have criticisms, but I still liked it A LOT (and it was such a page-turner that that aspect outweighed the criticisms… for me. Others disagree.) From what you’ve said here, I don’t think you’ll have a problem with it, and it is quite over-the-top. There’s a bit of IF in it too, so yay?

6 Jamie { 08.17.13 at 5:00 pm }

It’s good. It doesn’t feel like real life. Or at least nothing like my real life… I vote yes.

7 Jodifur { 08.17.13 at 5:05 pm }

It’s not about what you think it is about.

8 shelli { 08.17.13 at 5:37 pm }

I’m just 1/4 of the way though Gone Girl. I must be hard to impress because it hasn’t sucked me in yet. Considering how many good reviews this book has, right now I’m just.. Meh.

9 Mina { 08.17.13 at 5:40 pm }

I do recommend Cuckoo’s Calling. A good old whodunnit, in the Agatha Christie style. We want to know what actually happened and see that justice is done, and not slit our wrists because the victim is dead. I liked it better than Casual Vacancy, precisely because it is lighter reading (it is summer after all) and justice is done in the end. Might be because the world of super models is farfetched under all circumstances, and it is easier to suspend belief when one reads about that. But the characters in Casual Vacancy, I can see myself passing Kris in the street and not know the depth of her misery and blame myself afterwards when I see her pictures in the papers. Chilling thought.

I have stayed away from both Broadchurch AND Top of the Lake. I doubt I would want to watch those during winter either. On the other hand, I might have missed only a couple of Hercule Poirot’s adventures this year on ITV 3. I love David Suchet.

10 May { 08.17.13 at 6:16 pm }

You should read it, Mel.

11 Katie { 08.17.13 at 6:51 pm }

Read it. It’s not what you are expecting. At all.

12 Pepper { 08.17.13 at 7:04 pm }

I agree with everyone who’s said it’s not about what you think it’s about and you should read it.

However – it will stick with you. Not in the way you are concerned about, but it will. (I truly did not like the story or the way it ended but I am not sorry I read it – if that makes any sense.)

13 orodemniades { 08.17.13 at 8:29 pm }

Broadchurch is brilliant. And it made me cry at the end. Can’t wait for series 2!!

And you can totally handle Gone Girl – there’ll be a movie out next year.

14 Ana { 08.17.13 at 8:29 pm }

As someone who seems similar to you (in terms of not being able to handle a lot of movies/books/even TV shows that may trigger longstanding nightmares) I’d say you are perfectly safe with this one. As someone noted above, the characters are so un-relatable that you have some distance from them. And yes, it isn’t what you think it is. @Shelli…I thought that too (meh), but it really got good about half-way in…and then you won’t be able to put it down.

15 Mel { 08.17.13 at 8:32 pm }

Okay, I’m convinced. I’m picking it up tomorrow. I’m glad I asked and stopped wondering about it. Thank you for everyone who weighed in. Though there is still time to talk me out of it if you think I can’t handle it.

16 a { 08.17.13 at 9:23 pm }

Nah – you’ll be fine. It’s a good, suspenseful novel. But the emotions it evokes are not the ones that would give you nightmares…

17 Alexicographer { 08.17.13 at 10:19 pm }

You’ll be fine, though honestly I wish I hadn’t read it (although there were points when I couldn’t put it down — but I had exactly the same reaction, both directions, to the Da Vinci code) — it annoyed me, partly because of the IF bit Missohkay mentions. But I think you should read it, because I’d be interested to know your reaction to it. So, there’s that.

18 marianne { 08.17.13 at 11:11 pm }

Ummm you won’t be scared. And it was a good book in many ways, but I did not think it was near as great as people made it out to be. It’s a fairly quick read though.

19 Betty m { 08.18.13 at 3:18 am }

If Broadchurch was too much you should definitely avoid Southcliffe ( a Channel 4 drama about the effect of mass gun murders in a seaside town). Brilliant but very dark.

20 Ellen K. { 08.18.13 at 8:42 am }

It’s excellent; I’ve read it twice. And it won’t give you nightmares. I can’t watch or read true crime or horror; if DH watches even a couple of minutes of such a show, I am in tears.

21 meghan { 08.18.13 at 9:57 am }

It’s hard to talk about this book without spoilers but I think you could handle it. Like others have said, the characters are over the top, almost caricatures of real people. Also, there is an IF storyline, although that part upset me more than the missing persons part. Made us all look bad

22 loribeth { 08.18.13 at 11:54 am }

I have not read it. Yet. I’m cheap and waiting for the paperback. 😉 It is definitely on my to-read list, though. I don’t like horror, but I do like a good mystery/thriller. (Ditto on Cuckoo’s Calling.)

23 jjiraffe { 08.18.13 at 1:53 pm }

Agreed with everyone here: it’s not about what you think it’s about. I hated Gone Girl, but not because of the subject matter or because it was poorly written. I won’t say more until you have read it.

24 Jenny { 08.18.13 at 9:15 pm }

Read both. I think you can handle them. Neither of them is gruesome, nor do they feel like real life. Both kept me interested and were good reads.

25 SurlyMama { 08.18.13 at 9:43 pm }

You can definitely handle Gone Girl. It is a page turner. I burned through it in one sitting, but was slightly disappointed. It was hyped so much that I was expecting something more profound and jolting. I was very ‘meh.’ I’m interested to see what you think of it.

26 Arwen Rose { 08.19.13 at 6:51 am }

I loved Gone Girl as it was a good page turner, once you got past the annoying beginning, even though I truly hated the ending and nearly threw it down in disgust! The characters are ridiculous but that’s a good thing. I do share one of the other posters comments about the IF bit, makes us all look really awful. As usual.

27 Sarah { 08.19.13 at 10:25 am }

I don’t think it’s what you are expecting, and I think you are fine to read it! That being said, I didn’t love it. I mean, it’s an interesting book, and a page turner… but… I just don’t know. We can discuss after you are done 🙂

28 KeAnne { 08.19.13 at 11:26 am }

I’m looking forward to seeing what you think of it! I hated both characters but as Claire Messud notes, that’s not a flaw 🙂

29 betttina { 08.19.13 at 1:31 pm }

Me TOOOOOO! I *want* to read it but I am afraid. I like the movie The Grimm Brothers with Matt Damon and Heath Ledger, but it scares me too. That’s my litmus test for how scary something is – scarier than Grimm Bros? Nope.
For example, my friend convinced me to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas and it terrified me.

I read Lovely Bones (book club at work) and HATED it. So awful. That book still upsets me. I changed the tv channel every time the Ohio kidnappings were mentioned because I DON’T WANT TO KNOW.

I’d also like to read 1963 by Stephen King but I am afraid of that one too.

30 nonsequiturchica { 08.19.13 at 4:09 pm }

It’s not scary and you could totally read it.

31 Geochick { 08.19.13 at 4:16 pm }

I think Gone Girl is more suspense than anything.

I read The Lovely Bones and hated it much like bettina. It stuck in a scary way. Gone Girl does not stick like that.

32 Monica { 08.20.13 at 9:58 am }

Absolutely LOVED Gone Girl….and can’t wait to hear your opinion (plus all the other fun comments that will go with it.)

33 Raquel { 03.07.14 at 11:18 am }

What on earth does “IF” mean?

34 Colby { 10.06.14 at 12:48 am }

Thanks for asking this questions to the interwebs. As a frequent sufferer of nightmares, I’ve been wondering the same thing!

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