Flynn’s Gone Girl fails to measure up to best-seller praise

Photo credit: Goodreads
Photo credit: Goodreads

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

 3/5 stars

With all the promises of “I just couldn’t put it down!” and “OMG, so addicting!!!” I ventured into this best-selling novel with high expectations. This dually narrated suspense story follows the lives of Nick and Amy Dunne, a married couple experiencing difficulties in their relationship.

How refreshing.

The story finally sparks interest with the sudden and unexplained disappearance of Amy on their fifth wedding anniversary. Flynn’s narrative segmentation between Nick’s real-time observations and Amy’s diary nearly forces the reader to keep reading by breaking off in the middle of providing vital information. It’s just as frustrating as it is tiresome.

Flynn also struggled with inequality in character development. Where Amy, self-professed genius and master of manipulation is fleshed out to the fullest, Nick remains the inept, bumbling husband regardless of climactic stimuli. Though it’s clear by the end that Amy is the unadulterated center of the story, it doesn’t change the supremely unbalanced points of view.

Is this a plot device? Maybe, but to the average reader it comes across as sloppy writing more than an extensively crafted linguistic choice.

Overall, Flynn’s writing is strong. Strong enough that after finishing this book I pursued another one of her works Dark Places. However, the ending and the self-indulgent-Amy-show narration made the book semi-predictable and, at times, uninteresting.

Though I wouldn’t extol this book’s praises as others have before me, I would still recommend it if you’re at all interested. You may end up enjoying Flynn’s work in ways I didn’t. Colorful supportive characters and an early plot twist redeem the aforementioned flaws, so it’s not an entirely hopeless pursuit.

Gone Girl is a well-written, well-paced suspense story, but it could have been better. Venture with an open mind and low expectations and you won’t be disappointed.

The Maze Runner sends readers running in search of better writing

Photo credit: Goodreads

Photo credit: Goodreads

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

2.5/5 stars

The first of three books in James Dashner’s young-adult dystopian series, The Maze Runner follows a group of teenage boys confined to a world of gears, “grievers” and grief serum.

The concept was enticing—a post-apocalyptic future world where children are monitored in a giant, moving maze by unknown “Big Brother” figures—but dully executed. Unlike Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy, the language was unimaginative, predictable and insipid.

The terrifying concepts of a self-shifting maze and “grievers,” giant, metallic worms that hunt through the maze at night for runners that haven’t made it back safely behind the walls, were diminished to a bland bedtime story with amorphous monsters. Description is clearly not Dashner’s strength.

In a last-stitch attempt to spike the plot, there appears a lone female, sent up in the metal elevator box used to send supplies to the boys once a week. However, she’s written with no personality except for the glaringly stereotypical infatuation with the main man, Thomas, and an impressively unimpressive amount of intellect.

The two can communicate telepathically as well—the origin of which Dashner hasn’t yet specified as a likely ploy to keep the reader pushing through the next few novels.

The pacing of the story flat-lined, making the only motivation to keep reading stem from an overwhelming desire to just finish the book and move on. The climax, when the characters venture into the “griever hole” at the center of the maze, was beyond predictable.

There are two other books in the Maze Runner series, however, if they’re anything like the first I have no desire to read them. Essentially, this series read like a cheap knock-off of Roth’s Divergent series or Collins’ Hunger Games Trilogy.

Color me disappointed.

The Maze Runner movie, featuring Dylan O’Brien as protagonist Thomas, is scheduled to hit theaters in early September 2014. Perhaps the concept will do better on screen than it did in print.

In which mind is master

In the midst of a most-hindered sleep,

I lay unaided by my sheep.

Eyelids left to sentry eyes

Clamped shut, restless ‘neath dark’ning skies.

 

But lo, rare seconds beg the mind

To a wondrous place– and dream did I!

Down a rabbit’s hole, one could say

Where day was night and night was day.

 

Strange murmurings of tasks at hand,

In a queer and deconstructed land.

Militant were expectations,

Scorned and scathed were jubilations.

 

Into a second sleep fell I,

A dreamer’s dream in Mind’s third eye.

No guide except my instincts there,

As Alice with the Hatter’s hare.

 

Three consciousness danced ‘neath these tresses,

Confused and gambling in my wake,

Lessons learned, a sister spurned,

A dreamer fearful of mistake.

 

Hark! Too soon the bells did ring,

And unforgiving dawn did bring

The bitter scent of coffee ground,

As dreams they fled,

mind left unsound.

But Mom, I want a gold medal too!

The Olympics are the only sporting events that I truly enjoy watching.

Granted, I’ve taken in a few Buffalo Sabres games with my mother and some Sunday NASCAR races with my father, but sports only snare me once every four years.

However, with this global celebration of athleticism comes the imminent and overwhelming gloom of inadequacy.

Photo credit: Huffington Post
Photo credit: Huffington Post

Watching, slack-jawed, as 15-year-old Russian figure skater Julia Lipnitskaia dominated the women’s team short program, filled me with warring waves of awe and indignation.

I interrogated myself mercilessly, compiling my brief list of teenage accomplishments but discounting them quickly for one reason or another.  Somehow “Making high-honor roll every quarter” still doesn’t match up to the grandeur of “Winning top honors at the Olympics before I had my driver’s license.”

As I sat on my parent’s couch, cat in my lap and frown furrowing my expression, I realized something.

Accomplishment is relative.

Yes, Miss Lipni—too many consonants— may end up with this gold circle to love and cherish for the rest of her life. BUT, that achievement was most likely her only focus since she triple-axeled out of the womb.

For someone like me, a recent college graduate with a severe lack of job prospects, finally finding paid work was enough to throw a block party, ya know, if I wasn’t broke. For someone recovering from serious addiction, accomplishment could be waking up, showering and making it through the day without relapsing.

Photo credit: Creative Commons
Photo credit: Creative Commons

See what I mean? It’s all relative.

So, before you sit there berating yourself for your lack of pre-pubescent metallic medallions, remember that everything you do is important. Whether it’s mailing the bills on time, submitting the last draft of a dissertation, or finally proposing to your significant other—your efforts matter.

Keep pushing yourself. Find a goal, and motivate yourself to achieve it.

You’ve got this, so keep going.

Write on!

Day 18: Favorite book-to-screen adaptation

Day 18
Day 18

Day 18: Favorite screen adaptations- The Great Gatsby, She’s the Man (Based off Twelfth Night), Macbeth ft. Patrick Stewart, and Romeo and Juliet ft. Claire Danes and Leo DiCaprio

I loved the adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Though it may not fit the plot to the letter, the similarities are striking and the presentation is ridiculously entertaining.

The versions of Macbeth and R &J are both highly symbolic and I really enjoyed the gritty and unique way they were produced.

Gatsby made the list purely because it was SO close to the book that I had almost no complaints. Other than the neglect for color symbolism, which was so apparent in the text, the movie followed the plot-line to the letter. I was impressed, entertained and fulfilled as a reader.

 

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