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Reviewletts: Super Popular Fiction I Loved

by Kim on December 4, 2012 · 17 comments

In an effort to maybe, perhaps, hopefully get caught up on all the books I haven’t reviewed, I’m planning to start doing mini-reviews every couple of weeks for books that I read but didn’t have much to say about. If you have more specific questions about any of this week’s titles, leave them in the comments!

Even though I primarily write about nonfiction on the blog, I do still love to read really great fiction because I love to get lost in a good story. And, I’ll be honest, because I like being able to read the books that everyone seems to be talking about. I don’t always get that buzzy community fannishness with nonfiction, you know? So in today’s reviewletts, I’m going to share some brief thoughts on a couple of popular books I read and really loved.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet? (Source)

It’s really better to go into Gone Girl knowing as little as possible about the plot of the book because the twists are part of what makes it such a fun read. But in addition to being a fun mystery/thriller, Gillian Flynn does a remarkable job of really exploring the psychology of these very distinctive narrators. I tend to like my fiction with a little bit of an edge or a little strangeness, and this book has it in leaps and bounds. Oh, and Flynn can flat-out write. The prose just pulls you in. Overall, Gone Girl was a good, suspenseful, unsettling read that I recommend picking up.

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway

Joe Spork fixes clocks. He has turned his back on his father’s legacy as one of London’s flashiest and most powerful gangsters and aims to live a quiet life. Edie Banister retired long ago from her career as a British secret agent. She spends her days with a cantankerous old pug for company. That is, until Joe repairs a particularly unusual clockwork mechanism, inadvertently triggering a 1950s doomsday machine. His once-quiet life is suddenly overrun by mad monks who worship John Ruskin, psychopathic serial killers, mad geniuses and dastardly villains. On the upside, he catches the eye of bright and brassy Polly, a woman with enough smarts to get anyone out of a sticky situation. In order to save the world and defeat the nefarious forces threatening it, Joe must help Edie complete a mission she abandoned years ago, and he must summon the courage to pick up his father’s old gun and join the fight. (Source)

There are just so many things about the description of Angelmaker that got me super excited for this book. Like I said before, I like my fiction with a bit of weird… and this book has a TON of craziness in it. But at the heart of a plot that feels a bit like a madcap James Bond movie is a really careful constructed story about a man coming to understand himself and his place in the world. It has a lot of heart, in the midst of mystery/spy thriller/love story about the potential end of the world. This one was a really delightful read, and it made me excited to read more from Nick Harkaway.

Disclosure: I borrowed Gone Girl from my local library and purchased a copy of Angelmaker for myself.

Photo Credit: albertogp123 via Flickr

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeanne December 4, 2012 at 7:42 am

I’m glad you had a good time with Angelmaker. Did you like the Edie Banister plot? I thought that made it more than just a Bond-type thriller. At first it added the element of comedy (c’mon, a little old lady as an action hero?) but then her story expanded to include Joe’s.

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Kim December 5, 2012 at 6:52 pm

I did! Edie was a hoot as an old woman, and a fascinating character as a younger agent. I liked the contrast she offered to Joe — someone deeply involved with big things, not afraid of leading a life that isn’t quiet — and the way their stories came together. So yes, absolutely, her part of the story is a big part of what elevates this book :)

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Stephanie December 4, 2012 at 12:57 pm

I like my fiction with a bit of weird, too. :-) Both these books sound intriguing. I’m adding them to my list. I like this mini-review format, by the way.

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Kim December 5, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Thank you! I’ve been doing mini-reviews off and on throughout the year, and I think I finally found a format for them that I like too.

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Nikki Steele December 4, 2012 at 1:02 pm

I had so much fun with Gone Girl but ended up disliking the female character so much by the end that it kind of lost some of the appeal.

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Kim December 5, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Amy is really awful, but on some level so is Nick… You certainly have to be ok immersing yourself in a world of generally horrible people for this book. It didn’t get to me too much, but I know what you mean.

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bermudaonion(Kathy) December 4, 2012 at 2:18 pm

My book club selected Gone Girl to read this year. One member keeps saying her daughter hated so she’s suggested we drop it. To be honest, that kind of made me mad because I want to read it!

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Kim December 5, 2012 at 7:03 pm

I hope you don’t! It’s a good read, and one that I think a book club would have a lot to talk about.

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Jenny December 4, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Both of these are on my list for Christmastime plane ride reading. I think they’re going to be excellent plane reads. I liked The Gone-Away World and (more recently) Sharp Objects.

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Kim December 5, 2012 at 7:04 pm

These will be great plane reads. They’re totally absorbing. Angelmaker starts out a little slower than Gone Girl, but once I got into the story I was hooked.

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Natalie ~ the Coffee and a Book Chick December 5, 2012 at 11:11 am

I’m all about the weird for my fiction! Loved GONE GIRL, but I haven’t heard of ANGELMAKER before. On the list it goes, thanks!

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Kim December 5, 2012 at 7:05 pm

It’s quite fun, and probably much more on the weird scale than Gone Girl. But delightful and fun and sort of genre-y weird.

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Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm December 6, 2012 at 9:17 pm

I liked Gone Girl a lot!

The other “buzzy” fiction book I just finished (and LOVED!) is The Secret Keeper. Not weird or strange… but you might like it anyway! :)

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Kim December 9, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Thanks for the recommendation — I’ve heard that book mentioned, but didn’t look into it until you mentioned it. The plot sounds intriguing. I do love mysteries!

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Andi (@estellasrevenge) December 7, 2012 at 6:42 pm

*sigh*

I really need to finish Gone Girl.

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Kim December 9, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Finish? You started and didn’t read it straight through? Even though I knew it was going to be a twisty book, but I will still totally absorbed.

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The Journey December 11, 2012 at 3:25 am

I really need to finish Gone Girl this week. Its a good read.

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