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GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn
Reviewed by Camille Hove
Gillian Flynn has written a masterpiece of murder and intrigue. A marriage gone wrong and a potential killer on the loose, Gone Girl starts off with a bang.
Nick and Amy have been married five years, living in a posh brownstone in New York. But when the internet steals both of their magazine occupations, they take to moping around the house in pajamas and taking long afternoon naps. Soon though, things need to change, so they pack up and head to Nick’s hometown of Carthage, Missouri. With his pockets quickly becoming shallow, and his mother dying cheerfully of cancer, (no, seriously, she’s the most upbeat character in the book) Nick and Amy soon settle into a new routine.
This routine is broken rather abruptly on the morning of their fifth anniversary when Nick finds the door wide open and the house turned upside down with no Amy in sight. When she is declared missing by the police, Nick is obviously the first suspect, and he has no alibi (Editor’s Note: Duh duh DUUUUUHHHH!). Flynn presents information in such a shocking way; you won’t want to put this heavy tome down.
Split into three parts, we dive deep into what seemed like the perfect cookie cutter marriage of two gorgeous people with more money than they could keep track of. But when the deepest darkest thoughts of Nick and Amy are brought to light, you’ll be surprised at what you learn. Nick admits, “As a man, I had been my most impressive when I loved her—and I was my next best self when I hated her.” Troubled with the thoughts of his wife, he knows his character is in question when it comes to being together. Who is he without Amy? Half of a whole? What happens to people when their marriage breaks apart?
Amy muses on the theory of self, “Can you imagine, finally showing your true self to your spouse, your soul mate, and having him not like you?” True nature, be it dark and gritty, utterly terrifying, or just plain simple can have a deep effect. Amy is a troubled, intelligent woman who has found a fault in her husband. Flynn spins her character wider than a spider web to lure you in.
Fond of women who have troubling secrets and dark inner thoughts, Flynn works this piece around the psychosis of Nick and Amy Dunne. What happened to their marriage? How did they end up like this?
Gone Girl explores the depths of the human mind and what it means to really love someone—and what they would do to keep that love.
ELANTRIS by Brandon Sanderson
Reviewed by Sierra Patheal
It’s 2:38 in the morning and you’re thirsty. You try to ignore it, but you can’t get back to sleep. So, sighing, you slip out of bed quietly, trying not to wake your roommate, and grope your way toward the door.
A moment later, two feet before where the wall should have been, you slam your toe into the doorframe. Cursing soundlessly, you bite your lip as pain washes over you and lights your entire foot on fire. You wait, breathing deeply, for the pain to recede.
But what if it never does?
This isn’t the central concept in Brandon Sanderson’s Elantris, but it’s the one that has stuck with me the longest. For a certain group of characters in the novel, injuries, once sustained, never heal, and the pain, therefore, never fades. In the first chapter of Elantris, Prince Raoden awakes one morning to find he’s been taken by the “Shaod,” a transformation which was once considered a blessing and turned citizens into god-like, immortal wizards, but now, for reasons no one can decipher, turns them into gnarled, zombie-like animated corpses, who, despite being very difficult to kill, lack the blessings of eternal youth and regeneration. Instead, the moving, sentient corpses are thrown into the walled city of Elantris, which used to be the city of the gods, and the walls are locked behind them, the rest of the world pretending they’re dead. Cursed to live forever with bodies which cannot repair themselves but whose nerve endings are nevertheless fully functioning, the cursed citizens probably wish they were.
The book centers around far more than this idea, and despite it being Sanderson’s first widely-published book, it remains one of my favorites due to its skillful plot structure, interesting world, and dazzling originality. The chapters are split between three main characters—Prince Raoden, his fiancée Sarene (who, despite never meeting him before his transformation, nevertheless manages to meet and fall in love with him while he’s still a zombie), and the creepy cult priest Hrathen, who comes to Raoden’s city with the orders to convert everyone or murder them all—and, as the seemingly-disparate story strands weave tighter and tighter, the eventual explosion is unavoidable. Toward the end, a hundred pages pass easily in a frantic half-hour, homework and sanity alike discarded in favor of one more chapter. Despite its slow buildup, the novel suddenly and violently grabs ahold of the reader and refuses to let go—or to leave once it’s finished.
I’ve read seven other books by Sanderson now, and while they all have their gems, the concept of everlasting, searing pain still stands out to me as one of the strongest, most disturbing scenarios he’s designed. I’m clumsy; I run into doors and walls frequently, and if I were to fall over and need stitches or a trip to the hospital via ambulance, it wouldn’t be the first time. If those momentary flashes of pain never, ever faded?
I can understand why Raoden goes insane.
So, if you’re looking for a break from midterms and enjoy the escape fantasy has to offer, give Elantris a try. It’s worth it.